Cilic, Bautista Agut Ready For Battle In Pune
The Tata Maharashtra Open is set to get underway this week with Marin Cilic heading a field of 28 players vying to start their 2018 ATP World Tour seasons off with a bang.
Leading the charge for the first time in the West Indian metropolis of Pune, is World No. 6 and 2014 US Open champion Cilic. With nothing to defend in the opening week of 2018, Cilic will look to add on precious ranking points to nudge himself closer to the career-high of No. 4 in the Emirates ATP Rankings that he achieved late last season courtesy of his run to the Wimbledon final. The 29-year-old Croat is a two-time champion at Tata Maharashtra Open in both 2009 and 2010, when the tournament was held in Chennai.
Seeded second in Pune is 2017 US Open finalist Kevin Anderson. Despite missing the first months of his 2017, the South African returned with vengeance, skyrocketing back into the Top 15 by reaching the second week at all three Grand Slams he played in addition to an appearance in the final of Citi Open. Anderson will play either Ruben Bemelmans or a qualifier in his first match.
Defending champion and World No. 22 Roberto Bautista Agut returns to India having claimed the crown in Chennai one year ago over Daniil Medvedev. Having landed in the same half of the draw as Cilic, Bautista Agut will have to fight past Tennys Sandgren or Gilles Simon to have a chance at a potential semi-final showdown with the Croatian No.1 seed.
Benoit Paire and Robin Haase also join the competition in Pune, with a possible quarter-final meeting between the two should they navigate past their opening obstacles. Paire kicks off 2018 against either Nicolas Kicker or Marton Fucsovics, while Haase plays Blaz Kavcic.
Additionally, returning from a lengthy injury layoff is Pablo Andujar. Andujar, who reached a career-high of No. 32 in the Emirates ATP Rankings back in 2015, hasn’t played a tour-level match since late 2016 and will look to start 2018 with momentum when he faces Nicolas Jarry in the first round. Jarry made his Top 100 debut in November and will be keen to build upon his three ATP Challenger Tour titles in 2017 as he transitions on to the ATP World Tour in 2018.