| Mumbai |
Updated: October 29, 2018 9:12:52 am
As the West Indies tour of India moves to Mumbai for the fourth One-Day International, scheduled for Monday, the country’s only 125K WTA event, the Mumbai Open, has been forced to postpone its regular Monday start by a day.
The decision to delay the tennis event, which will be held at the Cricket Club of India courts, was made on the back of the BCCI shifting the cricket match from its regular venue Wankhede Stadium to the Brabourne Stadium, which is housed within the CCI complex.
“Keeping in mind the large gathering which will be coming for India vs West Indies cricket match and to avoid any untoward incident, the organisers and WTA officials have jointly decided to start the main draw matches on Tuesday,” joint tournament director Sunder Iyer said in a statement.
Security concerns arise since a sizable crowd that will be seated at the East Stand of the 25,000-plus capacity stadium will enter the venue from the same corridor that the tennis players will use to get to the courts. At the same time, the WTA event has free entry for spectators, but not enough capacity to cater to the large number of fans that may spill over from the cricket stands.
With the first-round main draw matches now scheduled for Tuesday, arrangements have been made for the players to practise on the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) courts nearby. “The courts at MSLTA are the same as the ones at CCI, so the players will still get a chance to adjust to the conditions here,” Iyer said.
Earlier this month, the BCCI decided to shift the ODI to Brabourne after the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) – the body in charge of the Wankhede Stadium – cited financial constraints. Due to the recommendations of the Lodha Commission, the MCA asserted it lacked office-bearers authorised to clear the payments necessary for hosting an international match.
The move to Brabourne, which has in recent years been used as a venue for practice matches for visiting teams, means the stadium will host its first ODI since 2006.
The WTA had successfully hosted its first 125K Series event in India in five years at the inaugural edition of the Mumbai Open last year. The tournament last year had provided as many as four wild cards to the main draw for Indian players, and Ankita Raina – currently India’s highest-ranked player – took advantage to reach the quarterfinals.
This year, the 25-year-old’s rank of 195 was enough to earn her a direct spot into the main draw, which is headlined by top seed and world no 47 Saisai Zheng of China. Last year’s finalist, Dalila Jakupovic enters as the second seed, while 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, who has struggled with injury and fallen to No. 220, has been granted a wild card for the event.