Nadal meets Montcourt in opening round of Chennai Open tennis

By Anand Philar, IANS

Chennai : World No.2 and top seed Rafael Nadal of Spain will take on Mathieu Montcourt of France in the first round of the $ 436,000 ATP Chennai Open tennis tournament commencing here Monday.

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Nadal, who lost to Xavier Malisse of France in the semi-finals last year, has third seed Carlos Moya (Spain), a winner here in 2004 and 2005, in his half of the draw besides seventh seed Werner Eschauer (Austria), and eighth seed Marc Gicquel (France).

Defending champion but unseeded Malisse is in the bottom half of the draw along with 16th ranked second seed Marcos Baghdatis (Cyprus), fourth seed and one of the title favourites Mikhail Youzhny (Russia).

“It is a very well spread out, heavy and deep draw. You cannot say a particular player has an easy run and I feel the tournament is very open this time,” commented Vijay Amritraj who conducted the draw.

“There are quite a few players in the draw who are capable of causing a few upsets. There is Malisse and Youzhny besides the eternal favourite Moya who will be vying for honours along with Nadal and Baghdatis,” Amritraj added.

He felt that none of the players can fancy an easy run through the draw due to the presence of several dangerous “floaters” who can trip higher-ranked opponents on their day.

While Amritraj expected a “decent run” for Nadal up to the quarter-finals in this 32-player draw, a potential hazard for the Spaniard was the 33-year old Werner, who attained a career-high ranking of 52 this year before finishing the season at 66.

“Likewise, I would keep an eye on the likes of Nicolas Mahut (France, 5th seed), Giles Muller (Luxumberg, unseeded) and Marin Cilic (Croatia), all of whom are capable of pulling off surprise wins. So, I find the draw very competitive and we should see some high quality tennis through the week,” Amritraj opined.