Poor turn out at Chennai Open after spate of pull-outs

Last Updated: Jan 05, 2012, 21:32 PM IST

Chennai: Blame it on a field which does not have a star player and the pull out local hero Somdev Devvarman, the Chennai Open had failed to attract the crowd in this ongoing edition.

Two top-10 players -- in Janko Tipsarevic and Nicolas Almagro -- are there in the men`s singles draw but less than two hundred people turned up to watch the tennis matches.

Even the star Indian players Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi failed to bring in the fans, last night when they are in action.

Over the last 16 years, the country`s only Tour has seen big names such as Boris Becker, Patrick Rafter, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Carlos Moya and Rafael Nadal gracing the SDAT courts here, but the ongoing edition is witnessing only a sparse crowd.

Today, before the start of the Yuki Bhambri-Tipsaveric clash, about 100 odd tennis lovers watch the proceedings at the 6,000 capacity centre court.

As the contract between the IMG, license holders of the event, and the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association expires at the end of 2013, there are reports that the TNTA is going it alone to organise the event without IMG`s help.

TNTA secretary CBN Reddy was quoted as saying that they are also looking at the possibility of upgrading the event from 250-point to 500-point to attract more big names such as Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

According to the Tour rules, it`s mandatory for the top players to compete in certain number of 500 events

A spate of withdrawals hasn`t helped the organizers either. Even before the tournament took off, Croat Marin Cilic, twice singles champion (2009 and 2010), withdrew due to injury.

India`s highest ranked singles player Somdev, ranked 84, pulled out due to a recurring shoulder injury on the first day.

With all four bottom seeds have been ousted, the top four seeds ? Tipsarevic (Serbia), Almagro (Spain), defending champion Stanislaus Wawrinka (Switzerland) and Canadian Milos Raonic remain in fray.

The organisers are hoping that there would be greater support from the fans in the remaining three days of the tournament which will witness quarterfinal, semi final and final of both singles and doubles.

According to Reddy, a good turnout is expected for the next three days.

"I am confident about the better turnout for the next three days. The reason for it is that I go by the demand for tickets coming forward from the quarterfinal onwards."

PTI