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Som faces prodon in opener

CHENNAI: India’s top singles player and 2009 finalist Somdev Devvarman will meet 19th seed and world No 97 Eric Prodon in the first round of the 2011 Aircel Chennai Open which begins at the SA

Published: 01st January 2012 02:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:06 PM   |  A+A-

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Former champion Xavier Malisse, Karti P Chidambaram (vice-president, AITA), Stanislas Wawrinka, Somdev Devvarman and MA Alagappan (president, TNTA) at

CHENNAI: India’s top singles player and 2009 finalist Somdev Devvarman will meet 19th seed and world No 97 Eric Prodon in the first round of the 2011 Aircel Chennai Open which begins at the SADT Tennis Stadium from Monday. A win in the opener will pit Somdev against defending champion and world No 17 Stanislas Wawrinka in the next round. Somdev has a reputation of being a giant-killer a n d a l - though he has a good chance to get past his first hurdle, the player from Assam sounded modest. “It is still a long way before I play Stan (Wawrinka). Eric is strong player and so I have to be fit and play well,” said Somdev after the draw ceremony on Saturday.

Somdev, who had his formal tennis training at the BAT in Chennai, and as a player, grew up watching the Chennai Open, is yet to win the coveted crown. Many feel it is high time he plays to his potential and has a crack at the title. “I am working hard and will give my best shot. I will be playing Eric for the first time. I will do everything to start the season on a good note,” added Somdev.

When asked if meeting Eric for the first time was an advantage.

“For whom it is an advantage whether for Eric or me,” joked Somdev before leaving for practice, adding “every match is important. I take one match at a time.” India’s wild card entrant Yuki Bhambri has drawn a tough first-round opponent in Slovakia’s Karol Beck, who is ranked 101 in the world.

The other Indian wild card Vishnu Vardhan has a tougher match than Yuki. He is pitted against fifth seed and world No 36 Ivan Dodig of Croatia in the season opener.

The third wild card David Goffin of Belgium faces former champion and compatriot Xavier Malisse in the opening round.

For the first time in the Open history, the top four seeds Serbian world No 9 Janko Tipsarevic, Spain’s world No 10 Nicolas Almagro, Wawrinka and Canada’s world No 31 Milos Raonic have been given a bye, which will now be a 28-man draw.

Top seed Tipsarevic, a semifinalist in the previous two editions, will kick-start the new season against the winner of the first round between Yuki Bhambri and Karol Beck, while Almagro will face the winner of the match between Blaz Kavcic of Slovakia and Belgian Steve Darcis. “It is a great tournament.

Last year I was playing some of my best tennis and I hope to start well this season too,” said Wawrinka.

Malisse a former champion and a regular at Chennai was happy to be back in the city.

“It has been nice coming back here. I’ve played here 4-5 times and it is always nice to play in front of a good crowd,” said Malisse, who finished runner-up in the last edition.

Fourth seed Raonic will take on the winner of the first round clash between American Sam Querrey and Victor Hanescu while Italian sixth seed Fabio Fognini will open against Dudi Sela of Israel and Belgian eighth seed Oliver Rochus will meet a qualifier.

All India Tennis Association vice-president Karti P Chidambaram, who was present at the draw ceremony, believed that all the matches would be tough. “Both Yuki and Vishnu who were given wild cards based on their good showing in the recent past, should utilise this opportunity and improve their rankings,” said Karti.



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