Somdev, Yuki to lead Indian challenge at Delhi Open

PTI| Updated: Feb 16, 2014, 17:55 PM IST

New Delhi: India`s top two singles players, Somdev Devvraman and Yuki Bhambri, would aim to win another ATP Challenger title but they will face stiff challenge from a number of talented players at the USD 100,000 Delhi Open, beginning here on Monday.

After a long wait, the country`s players have got the opportunity to play in back-to-back Challenger events in India and the players have relished the chance to compete in a field, which features top players.

Yuki won the first leg in Chennai and Somdev reached semifinals of both Chennai and Kolkata events while players such as Sanam Singh and Saketh Myneni too did well.

The field for the Delhi Open has two top-100 players, including Somdev and top seed from Kazakhstan Aleksandr Nedovyesov apart from six more players in top-160.

Somdev has been countering not only his rivals but also his own indifferent form as he has struggled against his lower-ranked compatriots of late. The week ahead will be full of challenges for India`s number one player and it gives him a good preparation for the gruelling season ahead.

Delhi boy Yuki has been on a roll in the last three-four months and with the kind of form he has displayed since the start of the season, he will be a serious title contender.

However, the road would not be easy as players such as Ilija Bozoljac, who triumphed at the Kolkata leg, Alexander Kudryavtsev and Evgeny Donskoy are all tough customers.

Sixth seed Yuki will open his campaign against Frenchman Lucas Pouille and is expected to run into big serving compatriot Saketh in the second round and if that hurdle is cleared, he may find top seed Nedovyesov in the quarterfinals.

Somdev will clash with compatriot Karunuday Singh, who has been given a wild card entry, in his opening round and may find Japanese fifth seed Go Soeda in the last-eight.

Ramkumar Ramanathan, who had stunned Somdev in Chennai Open at the start of the season, has looked like a completely different player since the start of the season.

He has played aggressive brand of tennis and has been rewarded for his efforts. His fearless game, crushing inside-out forehands have won him many a admirers.

He has also got a wild card entry and is pitted against Serbian Bozoljac, who has been given a special exempt entry for making the finals in Kolkata.

Another Indian player to watch out for is Sanam Singh, who faces eighth seed Ukrainian Illya Mrachenko.

Sanam is one of the most talented players with great hands but results have never showed the true potential of the diminutive Chandigarh boy.

Simultaneously, the USD 25,000 ITF women's event will also be played and the country's top players such as Ankita Raina, Rishika Sunkara, Prarthana Thombare, Natasha Palha and Nidhui Chilumula will all get good experience.