Tough openers for Bhambri, Somdev
Chennai: India’s singles challengers at the Chennai Open on Saturday drew tough first round opponents as Yuki Bhambri was pitted against world number 56 Dutch Robin Haase while comeback man Somdev Devvarman will open his campaign against Czech Jann Hajek, ranked 106.
Both Bhambri, ranked 217, and Devvarman ( 663) have been granted wild card entries.
Devvarman, who rose to as high as 63 in the singles ranking in 2011, had reached the singles final in Chennai in 2009 but a shoulder injury, which needed surgery to heal, put a brake on his progress. “I have trained hard and happy that I do not experience any pain on my shoulder and it is working well. I am looking forward to staying healthy in the whole new season. I am playing Jann Hajek for the first time,” he said.
Bhambri, who has had some decent results last year, will also be playing his rival Robin Haase for the first time on ATP tour.
Meanwhile, the top four seeds in the tournament, starting from world No 6 Thomas Berdych, Janko Tipsarevic ( 9) of Serbia, Croat Marin Cilic, twice winner of the title here, and world No 17 and defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka have been granted byes into the second round.
Wawrinka said it would be tough to get into the groove in his first tournament after the off- season. “It’s always tough after not having practiced for one or two months. But I’ve played really well here and in 2011, I played my best tennis,” he Wawrinka, who won the title here last year having initially deciding to skip the event, said.
In doubles, defending champion Leander Paes and his new partner E Roger- Vasselin of France would be playing Ratiwantana brothers from Thailand while Mahesh Bhupathi and Daniel Nestor of Canada will take on young Indian pair of N Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhian of India. Third seeded Rohan Bopanna and Rajiv Ram ( USA) clash with Yen- Hsun Lu of Taipei and Go Soeda of Japan. S Singh and Vishnuvardhan have been drawn against the duo of B Paire of France and S Wawrinka of Switzerland.
Yuki Bhambri of India ( left) and Marin Cilic of Croatia unveil the Chennai Open trophy on Saturday