Indian Tennis

Yuki Bhambri, Ramkumar Ramanathan lead India’s charge at Pune ATP Challenger

The wildcards so far have been given to Mumbai’s Aryan Goveas (697) and Pune’s Arjun Kadhe (767).

The fourth edition of the Pune ATP Challenger will be held at the Mhalunge-Balewadi Tennis Complex from November 13- 18, kick-starting the series of season-ending international tennis events in India.

Organised by Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association and Pune Metropolitan District Tennis Association, this ATP Challenger event will see all the top Indian singles and doubles players in action. The tournament participants were announced in Mumbai on Friday by the MSLTA.

The Indian names headlining the singles draw include Yuki Bhambri (140), who had won the event in 2014 and Ramkumar Ramanathan (148). Last year’s runner-up and current world No 255 Prajnesh Gunneswaran, will also be playing, along with Saketh Myneni who has come back after injury and therefore is ranked very low at 912. Sumit Nagal and N Sriram Balaji are among the other Indian Davis Cup players names in the qualifying.

Current world No 98 Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia and Radu Albot, ranked 86 from Moldova, will be the top two seeds at event which will see players from 16 countries.

The wildcards so far have been given to Mumbai’s Aryan Goveas (697) and Pune’s Arjun Kadhe (767). There could be a couple of special exemption players and two more wildcards given as well.

In the doubles, four out of India’s five top-100 players – Divij Sharan (50), Purav Raja (62), Leander Paes (70) and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (97) – are expected to play. Rohan Bopanna, the top-ranked doubles player, has been invited to attend the last two days of the Challenger.

Proven track record

The tournament is being held for the fourth consecutive year, making it one of the longest-serving tennis events in the country. The event also marks the beginning of a busy period for MSLTA, with the Mumbai Open next week and the ATP 250 event Maharashtra Open in January.

The purpose behind keeping the Challenger so close to the season’s end is to ensure that Indian players can benefit from the ranking points at home heading into the new season. The singles champion will get 80 ATP points, while the runners up will get 48. These points are on par with that of a $75,000 tournament.

“The cut-off makes it a very strong Challenger at this level. We expect at least eight to ten players from India to make it to ATP draws in the main and qualifying draw,” MSLTA Secretary Sunder Iyer said.

The tournament also has a strong track record for winners, according to Kishor Patil, President of PMDTA.

“The 2014 champion, Yuichi Sugita of Japan won the event and went on to make it to the Top-100 in 2015 and is currently ranked 39 in the world; our own Yuki Bhambri bagged the title to propel into the top-100. The event helped last year’s finalist Prajnesh Gunneswaran to move into the top-200 bracket and also grab a Davis Cup spot and the 2016 winner Sadio Dumbia moved into the top-125.”

Another interesting aspect is the higher tournament cut-off this year of 303, an almost 200-point increase from 500 last year, according to Iyer.

One of the reasons given for this is the facilities at the Pune stadium, which has hosted a record seven of the 12 international tournaments in the state this year. Another reason could well be the inaugural Maharashtra Open next year, which was moved from Chennai earlier this year.

The qualifying rounds will be played on November 11 and 12 while the main draws begins Monday.

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.