Who will win South Asia’s ONLY ATP event? That’s the question that is on everyone’s mind as we close in on the final match of the Tata Open Maharashtra 2019. In just a few hours from now the Centre Court at Pune’s Balewadi stadium will come alive with some electrifying tennis and the amazing energy of the fans.
2018 was a fantastic, career-best year for world no. 6 Kevin Anderson. He took to social media a few days ago to share his preparations for the forthcoming season. And he looks in great nick. The road to 2019 for Anderson will certainly be paved by the successes he carries forward from the year that went by. And what a year it was for him – He began his year at the Tata Open Maharashtra tournament in January 2018 by making it to the finals. He fell last year to Gilles Simon (will today be different? For the sake of Anderson and his legion of fans, we certainly hope so!) It was his third tournament of the year that saw him muscle his way back into World Top Ten, when he won the inaugural New York Open. He reached the finals in the next tournament that he played, but fell to del Potro. He reached the quarters of the first two Masters of the year, the fourth round at the French Open. And then he made history. He pulled off the upset of the year when he defeated the iconic Roger Federer in an epic quarter final. He reached the finals at Wimbledon, where he fell to Djokovic. He became the first South African since Kevin Curren in 1985 to reach the finals at Wimbledon. And today, he looks to start his 2019 season with a win in the same place where his dream run began last year!
On the other end there will be the meteoric Ivo Karlovic. The gentle giant that Karlovic is, he continues to defy age and remain a formidable opponent. His serve, as we all remember, is the stuff of legend. With his height he is able to use that serve like a weapon. It is no surprise then that the Croatian former World No. 14 holds the record for highest number of aces served (13,024)! One of the tallest professional tennis players in history, Karlovic is a terrifying sight to behold as he prepares to serve what most certainly will come at you with the speed of a bullet. There are ways to beat Karlovic, of course. But if he gets into his unmatched serve and volley rhythm, there is no saying what he can pull off. It has been a great tournament so far for Karlovic – he defeated teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime in the first round in what was again a record; the age gap between the two of them, the oldest and the youngest players in the tournament was 21 years and six months, the largest on the ATP tour since 1976! As Karlovic prepares to take on the much, much younger Anderson today, he has a whole lot of popular support going his way too – after all, he is the oldest finalist on the ATP tour since 43 year old Ken Rosewall won the 1977 Hong Kong Championship.
Clearly, there’s so much excitement waiting to happen at the Centre Court at Balewadi today. And from the packed seats we can tell you, it is indeed #AdvantagePune!