Indian Tennis

Mumbai Open: Aryna Sabalenka, Vera Zvonareva headline India’s first WTA event in 5 years

Four wildcards are expected to go to Indian players with Ankita Raina, Rutuja Bhosale, Karman Kaur Thandi and Zeel Desai among frontrunners.

India is all set to host a WTA host event after five years with the Mumbai Open scheduled from November 18-26 at the Cricket Club of India’s courts. The tournament will be headlined by World No 78 Aryna Sabalenka, the top seed, and former world No 2 Vera Zvonareva among the 32 players from 19 countries.

Sabalenka, 19-year-old from Belarus, is a fast-rising young player on the women’s tour. She was the runner-up to Maria Sharapova at the Tianjin Open last month and beat US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the Fed Cup final on Sunday. She has also reached the finals of two and won one ITF tournament in India back in 2015.

Russia’s Zvonareva is best known for reaching the finals of both Wimbledon and US Open in 2010. She has also won four Majors in women’s and mixed doubles and an Olympics bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games. She is making her comeback to tennis his season after giving birth and having won an ITF title in Egypt in July, the Russian will be a player to watch out for in Mumbai.

The other seeded players in the fray are former world No 12 Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium who is currently ranked 112th, Zhu Lin (105) of China, Arina Rodionova (117) of Russia, Naomi Brady (120) of Britain, Anna Schmiedlova (132) of Slovakia, Jasmine Paolini (136) of Italy and Lizette Faith Cabrera (137) of Australia.

Four wildcards are expected to go to Indian players with India No 1 Ankita Raina, Maharashtra’s top-ranked player Rutuja Bhosale, junior No 1 and national runner-up Zeel Desai and upcoming player Karman Kaur Thandi being among the frontrunners. Two more Indians will be given wildcards for the qualifying draw and local players are expected to team up in doubles as well.

The logo and website of the Women’s Tennis Association $125K L&T Mumbai Open was launched in Mumbai on Monday by Amruta Fadnavis, Chairperson of the Organising Committee.

“The logo represents Mumbai, with Bollywood and the Gateway of India shown in it,” said Sundar Iyer, Secretary of the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association which is organising the event in association with the Maharashtra government.

The tournament will be streamed live on WTA TV and telecast on DD Sports, with the qualifying from November 18. The singles winner will get $20,000 and 160 ranking points while the runner-up will receive $11,000 and 95 points. In the doubles, the winner will get $5,500 and 160 points and runners-up will receive $2,700 and 95 points.

The last time India hosted a WTA event – the Royal Indian Open in Pune in 2012 – it was then the biggest title of champion Elina Svitolina’s career, who is a top-10 player today.

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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.