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Top 5 reasons to go watch the WTA Royal Indian Open

If you’re a tennis fan and are in or around Pune this week, make sure to catch the action at the WTA Royal Indian Open at the Balewadi Tennis Complex. And here are the top 5 reasons you should not not miss this event!

1) Women’s tennis returns to India

India used to host 2 WTA Tour events, but both have now fallen off the map since 2008. The WTA Royal Indian Open is the biggest international women’s event to be held in the country for more than 4 years. Pune is one of 2 WTA $125,000 Challengers that have been introduced in 2012 – one level below the main WTA tour events and one rung higher than the ITF events. The field features 2 players from the top 100 and 10 from the world’s top 150. With no likelihood of a main WTA event in India being added to the schedule, this is going to be our best chance to see women’s tennis action. Baseline slug-fests, loud grunts and short skirts are assured. And hopefully, the tennis will be great too!

2) Support the Indian girls

There’s no Sania Mirza, but there will be 5 Indians in the 32-woman main draw – 3 wild cards and 2 qualifiers. The most intriguing match involving the Indians is the one between Kimiko Date-Krumm and Rishika Sunkara. Other first round matches involving the home players include – (2) Misaki Doi vs. (WC) Prerna Bhambri; Chang Liu vs. (WC) Prarthana Thombare; So-Ra Lee vs. (WC) Rutuja Bhosale and Buyukakcay vs. (Q) Nidhi Chilumula. Hopefully, the home-court advantage and the local crowd support will inspire one or more of the Indian girls to go deep in the draw. With a bunch of ranking points available for grabs, this could be a perfect opportunity for any of the Indian girls to take a head start over the rest.

3) Andrea Petkovic

A top 10 player just twelve months ago when she reached the quarter-finals of 3 of the 4 Grand Slams, Petkovic has suffered horrible luck in 2012. She injured her back in January at the Australian Open, and took a couple of months off. Then in her first event back in Stuttgart, she rolled over her ankle – sending her to the sidelines once again. The French Open, Wimbledon and Olympics passed by, as did the top 10 ranking. Now on the comeback mould, Petkovic is ranked No. 140 and if she remains healthy, she will certainly be back into the top 20 next year. But Petkovic is not only about tennis; the German is one of the more articulate and intelligent players on the tour and she has a cult following thanks to her Petko-dance routine and Petkorazzi vidoes. Here’s hoping someone gets Petkovic to do some Bollywood style pelvic thrusts dance after her wins in Pune.

4) Kimiko Date-Krumm

For those who miss the tennis from the 1990s, here’s your chance to take a trip back in time to watch a player from a different era. Kimiko Date-Krumm was ranked No. 4 in the world in 1995, when former greats like Steffi Graf and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario ruled the roost. The Japanese player then retired in 1996, and after a 12-year break, decided to take up the challenge of competing again at the age of 38. It’s been 4 years now, and Date-Krumm is still churning out improbable victories. Date-Krumm went all the way to the top 50 in 2010, and has finished the last 3 years in the top 100. At a time when most players are baseline bashers, Date-Krumm plays intelligent tennis. She takes the ball early, hits it flat off both wings, moves her opponents around the court and comes into the net to hit volleys as well. In what should be an intriguing first round clash, the 42-year-old, ageless wonder will meet 19-year-old Indian Rishika Sunkara.

5) Donna Vekic

This 16-year-old from Croatia is on the verge of breaking into the top 100. The days of teenage phenoms are over but Vekic is one to watch for in the coming years. Vekic has also played the ITF events here and won in India in the past. The talented youngster is the highest ranked player from her generation and a good performance in Pune will make her the youngest player in the top 100.

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