Bengaluru: The third edition of the Bengaluru Open will see the best field thus far considering the names who have signed in for the richest ATP Challenger Tour event to be held at Bengaluru’s KSLTA from Feb 10 to 16.

Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis, ranked 69th in the world ATP rankings, followed by 74th ranked Stefano Travaglia of Italy, lead the stellar field which was released by the ATP.

Japanese journeyman Yuichi Sugita (91) and Australian James Duckworth (94) are the other players in the top-100 ranking who will be vying for honours in the biggest ATP Challenge Tour event in Asia which offers a total prize purse of $ 162,000.   

Bengaluru Open defending champion Prajnesh Gunneswaran (pictured above), currently the highest ranked Indian at 123, leads the home challenge followed by Bengaluru Open 2017 winner Sumit Nagal at 131. Ramkumar Ramanathan (185) and Mukund Sasikumar (267) are the other Indians in the fray who have made it to the main draw.

Evgeny Donskoy (Russia, No. 106), Jiri Vesely (Czech Republic, No. 109), Thomas Fabbiano (Italy, No. 114), Peter Gojowczyk (Germany, No. 120), Zhizhen Zhang (China, No.137), Blaz Rola (Slovakia, No.145) and Ilya Ivashka (Belarus, No.149) make up the under-150 list.

The main draw of 48 includes players from 22 countries while the players list in the Alternates consists of players from 12 other nations, thus giving the semblance of a truly international event.

The list also includes eight players who had reached a career high ranking of 50 and below with the Serbian Viktor Troicki being ranked No. 12 in the world and is currently ranked 159th.    

The top seed Ricardas’ exploits include four titles on the ATP Challenge Tour – Vancouver Challenger, the Rennes Open (France), Drummondville (Canada) and Busan (South Korea).

The 29-year-old, who began playing tennis at the age of two, reached a career best ranking of 50, three seasons ago. An injury had relegated him in the 200 club. However, Ricardas has worked his way back into the top 100 in 2018 and has maintained a steady form.

Meanwhile, Prajnesh has had a superb run of form in 2019, reaching a career high ranking of 75 in April last year. He also had the distinction of making it to the main draw of the Grand Slam, five times in a row in including the current edition of the Australian Open.

Although the Indian does not have a title, a runner-up finish at Annning China and a semifinal exit in the Shangai Open have been his best on the Challenger series with the 30-year-old playing the ATP 250s for most part of the year.

The main draw of 48 comprises of 40 players who get a direct entry. Five wild cards, two qualifiers and one special exempt category making up the final number of 48.

“It is very heartening to note that the Bengaluru Open has achieved the status of an important event on the Challenger circuit in such as a short period. The strong field means our boys will get a chance to rub shoulders with the best in the field and a great opportunity to improve, apart from earning valuable points that will catapult them into getting an entry into bigger events,” said Priyank Kharge, chairman of the organising committee.

“On behalf of all our sponsors and KSLTA, I welcome sporting ambassadors from more than 22 countries to Bengaluru. We will ensure that the players return with an enriching experience,” he added.

Sunil Yajaman, who is the tournament director, was more than satisfied with the field. “I think this is one of the best fields seen on the ATP Challenger circuit. There is a great depth in the quality of the field and it is a high cut-off draw,” said Sunil.

“It would be a treat for budding tennis players and sports lovers of Bengaluru to see these players in action,” he added.