Bopanna, Varman get Wild Cards for Kingfisher Airlines Tennis Open

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Mumbai, Sep 17 (UNI) India's leading singles player Rohan Bopanna and his compatriot Somdev Varman have got wild card entries in the Kingfisher Airlines Tennis Open 2007, scheduled to be held from September 24-30 here.

Top notch players from around the world will take centre stage at the second edition of the 416,000 dollars Kingfisher Open, being organised by Globosport.

The strong line-up that will battle it out on the hard courts of the Cricket Club of India (CCI) include power-packed performers like 2006 Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis, Wimbledon and US Open Champion Lleyton Hewitt and Richard Gasquet, a release said here today.

Mahesh Bhupathi, Managing Director of Globosport, said ''Both Rohan and Somdev have performed remarkably well in 2007. It will be a great opportunity for them to participate in South Asia's biggest sporting spectacular on home ground and play along side some of the greats from this era. We are certain that it will provide them the right experience and encouragement to compete at the highest levels of the game.'' Tournament Director, Gaurav Natekar, in the release, said, ''Safin has withdrawn from the tournament due to injury. We are looking for a suitable replacement for him and we will announce the third wild card shortly.'' Bopanna, ranked number 252nd in the world, has probably had his greatest year with a singles title at the Challenger in Dublin and a semi-final appearance at Manchester. In the doubles, he had notched up five title wins and was a finalist in another.

Bopanna was a wild card entrant in the singles in the first edition of the Kingfisher Airlines Tennis Open last year too, where he succumbed in the first round but not before rattling the eighth seed Wesley Moodie who won a hard-fought three-setter 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

However, in the doubles, Bopanna and his partner Mustafa Ghouse had a field run, upsetting the top and fourth seeds en route to a final appearance against eventual winners Mario Ancic and Mahesh Bhupathi.

The title did not come easy for the third-seeded Ancic-Bhupathi pair, who scraped through 6-4, 6-7 (6), 10-8. This was Bopanna's second final in an ATP doubles tournament having paired with Prakash Amritraj at Chennai in 2006, where the duo were wild card entrants.

The 22-year-old Varman has won the USA F1 doubles title at Tampa, USA and also reached the quarter-finals of the singles at the same event, the release added.

UNI

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