All eyes will be on world number six, Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic and world number 14, US Open runner-up Kevin Anderson in Tata Open Maharashtra -- India's only ATP 250 tennis tournament, starting January 1 at Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune.
Yuki, Ramkumar lead Indian campaign
However, India's top-ranked singles players Yuki Bhambri (116) and Ramkumar Ramanathan (148) will be looking to start the year on a high in front of their home crowd.
Notably, the ATP 250 event was moved from Chennai to Pune due to financial reasons.
Bhambri will open his campaign against lower-ranked compatriot and wildcard entrant Arjun Khade in the first round.
The 25-year-old may expected to meet the top seed and two-time champion Cilic in the quarter-final. However, he needs to get past eighth seed Frenchman Pierre Hugues Herbert, whom he might take on in the second round.
Also read: Bhambri opens up on 2018 targets
Bhambri had gone through a difficult year in 2016 as he suffered a tennis elbow and was out of action for almost seven months.
However, the Delhi youngster clinched his biggest career win when he defeated Frenchman Gael Monfils at ATP Masters 500 tournament in Washington (Citi Open) in August before losing quarter-final to Anderson.
Bhambri ended his 2017 season on a high winning a Challenger in Pune and finishing as runner-up in Bengaluru in November.
Working with trainer Abhimanyu Singh has helped Bhambri become fit enough to compete at the highest. It will be important for the local hope to start the season well, especially after a positive 2017.
Tough draw for Ramkumar
On the other hand, Ramkumar opens his campaign against higher-ranked Spaniard, Roberto Carballes Baena. The 23-year-old made headlines when he defeated world number eight Dominic Thiem in Antalya in June 2017.
The tall Chennai lad is drawn in the same quarter as his compatriot Bhambri and Cilic. It would require a performance similar to the one he came up with in Antalya if he is to get past the initial rounds in Pune.
Sumit Nagal in main draw
Meanwhile, world number 223 Sumit Nagal made it to the main draw of the tournament after winning his qualifier on Sunday. He will take on lower-ranked Ilya Ivashka in the first round.
Nagal is heading into the tournament with a lot of confidence on the back of his maiden Challenger win in Bengaluru last month. The 20-year-old, who relies on his forehand winners, stunned Bhambri enroute to the top step of the podium in the Garden City.
On the other hand, defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain is seeded third and he is likely to meet Cilic in the semi-final of the tournament.
Maharashtra Open 2018 seeding
|Roberto Bautista Agut|
|Pierre Hugues Herbert|
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