As the new year beckons so does the start of the 2018 season at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune, India, which takes the place of Chennai that stood for 20 years. This 23-year-old tournament is a traditional season opener amongst the ATP players alongside the Brisbane International and Exxon Mobile Open in Qatar.
Two-time champion Marin Cilic and current defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut return to India as the number one and three seeds respectively. South African Kevin Anderson debuts here in the Asian tournament and comes in as the second seed while Benoit Paire is the fourth seed.
Croat Marin Cilic, the top seed headlines the draw and this opening quarter. The 29-year-old crashed out in the second round last year and will be hoping to avoid the same consequences. With a Bye into the next round, the 2014 US Open champion faces either wildcard home favorite, Ramkumar Ramanathan or Roberto Carballes Baena. The Indian will be making his fifth appearance with a quarterfinal in 2016 being his best result.
This top section includes two more home players in Yuki Bhambri, who made the quarterfinal in 2014, and wildcard Arjun Khade who face off in the opening round. The winner will go on to face either Marco Cecchinato or eighth seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert who will be hoping to gain some early season form. Should he avoid an upset, expect Cilic to make it comfortably out of this section with the draw favoring him.
Quarterfinal: Marin Cilic-Marco Cecchinato
Semifinalist: Marin Cilic
This section quarter features the defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut. The Spaniard who triumphed over Daniil Medvedev last year has been given a slightly tough second-round match having been given a Bye. The 29-year-old awaits the winner of Gilles Simon and Tenys Sandgren. The Frenchman endured a poor 2017 season and has fallen down the rankings to world number 91 giving the American hope.
Czech sixth seed Jiri Vesely has been given one of the kindest draws in this year's tournament as he is guaranteed a qualifier and plays one himself. The 24-year-old is clear favorite to progress to the quarterfinals alongside Bautista Agut should he come through his second round match. If the Czech is on form, Bautista Agut will also have to be with the tennis Vesely can produce which makes this a tough one to call.
Quarterfinal: Gilles Simon-Jiri Vesely
Semifinalist: Jiri Vesely
Entering the bottom half, this third section is stacked with Benoit Paire, the fourth seed gaining a Bye to the second round. He awaits Nicolas Kicker or Marton Fucsovics and barring any dip in form, the Frenchman remains favorite not only in this match but the section. At the top of this quarter is the 5th seed, Robin Haase, who can trouble Paire should the two meet.
He faces Blaz Kavcic and should come through comfortably. Spaniard Pablo Andujar is using his Protected Ranking to enter the tournament having fallen down the rankings to world number 1694 due to serious injury problems over the past few years. He faces Nicolas Jarry, who despite not being on his favorite surface remains the favorite in this match due to ongoing problems for his opponent.
Quarterfinal: Pablo Andujar-Benoit Paire
Semifinalist: Benoit Paire
Debutant Kevin Anderson headlines this final section of the draw. The African had a wonderful season in 2017 season by making the US Open final. He would be hoping to take that form into the start of the 2018 season. He faces Ruben Bemelmans or a qualifier and with the big weapons he has up his sleeve, he should come through comfortably.
Seventh seed Mikhail Kukushkin opens up against Moldovan Radu Albot and shouldn't take him lightly in a slightly tough match to predict. The winner of that match will face either Laslo Djere or Marius Copil and should the Kazakh come through his first match, he should be favorite but overall, this section is Anderson's to lose.
Quarterfinal: Radu Albot-Kevin Anderson
Semifinalist: Kevin Anderson
Semifinals: Cilic def. Vesely, Anderson def. Paire
Final: Anderson def. Cilic