Tough first round outing for wild card Vishnu Vardhan

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Chennai, Dec 29 (UNI) It would be a tough first round outing for the newly-crowned national grass court champion Vishnu Vardhan of Andhra Pradesh in the Chennai Open ATP world tour tennis championship beginning at the SDATN stadium here on December 31.

The left-handed Hyderabad lad has been pitted against France's Edouard Roger Vasselin, whose ATP world ranking is 97.Vishun Vardhan has been given a wild card into the main draw by dint of winning the national title. He had also won the doubles title.

The other Indian wild card in the main draw Prakash Amritraj, son of tennis legend Vijay Amritraj, has been drawn against a qualifier who would be known only tomorrow after the final round.

However, Vijay who presided over the draw ceremony said even Prakash would not have an easy outing as many of the players in the qualifying rounds, were talented and tough to play.

''Both Prakash and Vishnu would really have to play top class tennis if they are to come through to the second round'', Vijay said, commenting on the two Indians.

The defending champion Xavier Malice, who had upset world no 2 and the top seed Rafael Nadal in the semis in last year's Chennai Open, has been drawn to play Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, ranked 117 while second seed Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis will take on Robin Haase, ranked no 114 in the first round.

Three times champion and crowd favourite Spain's Carlos Moya, seeded no 3 and top seed Rafael Nadal who will play Frenchman Mathieu Montcourt ranked 123, will have an easy first two rounds.

But they will meet their match in the quarters, Vijay said.

Commenting on the draw and the field, Vijay said ''the draw is heavy and Nadal will have a good chance to make it to the quarters.

Meanwhile, apart from four wild cards in Karan Rastogi, Harsh Mankad, Sriram Balaji and Yuki Bhambri, 13 other Indians including Prakash Amritraj's cousin and son of former Davis cupper Anand Amritraj, are in the qualifying rounds.

Amongst them Mustafa Ghouse who defeated coutryman Ajai Selvaraj 6-1, 6-3, Karan Rastogi who downed Divij Sharan 7-5, 4-6,6-4 in a tough contest made it to the second round of the qualifying matches.

UNI

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