Davydenko to meet Koellerer in Chennai Open first round

January 3rd, 2009 - 8:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Jan 3 (IANS) World No.5 and top seed Nikolay Davydenko from Russia was drawn to meet journeyman Daniel Koellerer from Austria in the first round of the $450,000 ATP Chennai Open tennis tournament starting here Monday.Heading the bottom half of the draw is second seed and World No. 13 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland who was drawn to meet a qualifier.

Former Davis Cup star and chairman of the organising committee Vijay Amritraj, who conducted the draw, said the tournament could throw up a few surprises.

“There is a lot of talent and we could see a winner from any of the top six players,” he said with specific reference to third seed Marin Cilic of Croatia who is ranked 23.

Echoing the view, Leander Paes, returning to Chennai Open after a three-year gap, said: “I saw Cilic practice today. I think he is a great talent. He was stroking well and generated amazing power in his shots.”

The 20-year-old Cilic will meet Alberto Martin, one of the six Spaniards in contention, in the first round, and is in the top half along with Davydenko.

Cilic though could meet Janko Tipsarevic, the 24-year old 49th ranked Serbian who lost to Roger Federer 10-8 in the fifth set at the 2008 Australian Open, in the quarter-finals.

“It being the first event of the year, the players need to work themselves into the tournament and in the process, there could be a few upsets,” warned Amritraj.

For Davydenko, it would be his second appearance in Chennai. In 2001, he made it to the main draw as a qualifier but lost in the first round to Byron Blake. However, the 27-year old Ukrainian’s ranking has improved vastly now.

The 23-year-old Wawrinka, winner of the doubles gold medal along with Federer at the Beijing Olympics, appears to have a fairly smooth passage up to the quarter-finals where he might run into Rainer Schuttler of Germany, the 33rd ranked fifth seed who lost to Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals at the 2008 Wimbledon.

Schuttler, in turn, will take on India’s Davis Cupper Prakash Amritraj, one of the three wildcard entries, in the first round. “I practised with Prakash just two days ago and he has improved a lot. I will have to be at my best to beat him,” commented Schuttler.

The only other Indian in the main draw, Somdev Dev Varman, also a wild card entry, will be facing Kevin Kim of the US who is ranked 117.

Also in the bottom half is the favourite and former champion Carlos Moya, the 42nd ranked sixth seeded Spaniard who is making his sixth consecutive appearance at the Chennai Open.

Undoubtedly, the field is one of the strongest ever for Chennai Open with six players in the top-50 and five in the top 100, besides Davydenko, competing.

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