Tough draw for Indian players

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 Yuki, ranked 217, and Somdev Devvarman (663) have been granted wild card entries into the top ATP tournament.

Somdev, who rose to as high as 63 in the singles ranking in 2011, had reached the singles final here 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.

Yuki, who has had some decent results last year, will also be playing his rival Haase for the first time on the ATP tour.

Meanwhile, the top four seeds in the tournament, from world no 6 Tomas Berdych, Janko Tipsarevic (9) of Serbia, Croat Marin Cilic, twice champion 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,”  Wawrinka, who won the title here last year after initially deciding to skip the event, said.

In the doubles, defending champion Leander Paes and his new partner 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 clash with Yen-Hsun Lu of Taipei and Go Soeda of Japan.

Other five doubles first round matches: R Bautista Agut (Esp)/ F Cipolla (Ita) vs R Klaasen (RSA) / N Monroe (US); S Singh (Ind)/ V Vardhan (Ind) vs B Paire (Fra)/ S Wawrinka (Sui); A Bedene (Slo)/ B Kavcic (Slo) vs E Donskoy (Rus)/ A Kuznetsov (Rus); A Begemann (Ger)/ M Emmrich (Ger) vs J Delgado (Gbr)/ K Skupski (Gbr); M Kohlmann (Ger)/ / P Petzschner (Ger) vs Robin Haase (Ned)/ I Sijsling (Ned).

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