David Ferrer faces tough road to fourth title in Valencia
Valencia: World number three David Ferrer faces a tricky opening round clash with Gael Monfils as he goes in search of his fourth Valencia Open title this week.
Ferrer failed to claim his third title of the season on Sunday as he was beaten by Grigor Dimitrov in the final of the Stockholm Open.
And the defending champion will need to be close to his best to beat an in-form Monfils, who pushed Novak Djokovic all the way in the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters in his last outing.
Indeed, the mercurial Frenchman has a 3-1 lifetime record against Ferrer, although the Spaniard did emerge victorious from their last meeting in Auckland earlier this year.
The draw doesn`t let up for Ferrer even if he should beat the world number 31 with big-serving fifth seed Jerzy Janowicz his potential quarter-final opponent and number three seed Nicolas Almagro also in his half of the draw.
Ferrer has at least sealed his place in the season ending ATP World Tour Finals in London, and second seed Tommy Haas is still in contention to join him.
The 35-year-old German continued his fine year with a second title of the season in Vienna on Sunday.
Victory moved Haas to within 700 ranking points of Richard Gasquet in the fight to make it to London and with 500 points on offer in Valencia, he is hoping to move even closer to the Frenchman ahead of the Paris Masters next week.
"I have to give my best tennis, nothing is impossible. I want to play good tennis for the rest of the season," said Haas after downing Robin Haase to claim his second title in Vienna.
"I still have a small chance, but I have to play extremely well."
Haas also faces a tricky opener against compatriot and world number 24 Philipp Kohlschreiber on Tuesday.
In the other standout ties of the first round, number four seed John Isner takes on world number 26 Ernests Gulbis and Mikhail Youznhy and Bernard Tomic square off for the right to play the winner of the clash between Haas and Kohlschreiber in the last-16.