Plenty of Indian interest at country`s only ATP event

Last Updated: Sunday, January 2, 2011 - 18:08

Chennai: Somdev Devvraman will look to carry forward his good form and repeat his 2009 performance while the doubles duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi will re-unite on the ATP tour for the first time since their 2002 separation, when action begins at the Chennai Open here from Monday.

After winning the singles gold medals at the Commonwealth and the Asian Games, Somdev has raised expectations and a singles ATP Tour title, which is still eluding him ever since turning pro in 2008, would certainly be on his mind.

It will not be easy for Somdev, considering the tough field -- four top-30 players in fray -- but he has the penchant for achieving the difficult aims.

He has a special liking to Chennai courts where he recorded his best ever ATP performance -- a summit clash appearance in 2009 -- and also eked out memorable Davis Cup victories.

Top seed and world number six Thomas Berdych of Czech Republic, who derailed Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, though would though start favourite.

World number 14 Marin Cilic of Croatia is bidding for his third successive here and will open his campaign against Japan`s Kei Nishikori.

Rohan Bopanna, who had a dream 2010, and Yuki Bhambri have got wild card entries and would look to cash in on the opportunities.

Bopanna`s forte is doubles and he has got a tough singles draw as he finds himself against third seed and world number 21 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland.

If he can cross the first hurdle, his second round rival could be Somdev, who will open his campaign against a qualifier at the USD 450,000 tournament.

Delhi boy Yuki is an intelligent and hardworking player but his transition from junior to senior has not been without hiccups. Injuries have started troubling him too early and he would be keen that he does justice to his talent.

India has a lot of interest in doubles as well and the reunion of Paes and Bhupathi -- known as Indian Express before separation -- has made it all the more exciting.

The reunion has come with an aim. The two players have won all Grand Slam titles but the Australian Open. As they change their partners for 2011, they found that perhaps they need each other to complete the tally.

Together they have done well at multi-sporting events and as they gradually reach the end points of their respective careers, it would be a great chance for the top seeds to prepare well for the season`s first Grand Slam with a good run at the home event.

Bopanna has partnered Pakistani Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi while Somdev has teamed up with his Asian Games gold medal winning partner Sanam Singh.

Another Indian team of Vishnu Vardhan and Divij Sharan makes for a strong Indian presence and plenty for the home crowd to look forward to.

No Indian could make the singles main draw through the qualifying round.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, January 2, 2011 - 18:08

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