Top seeds Bopanna & Qureshi meet holders Wawrinka & Paire in opening round blockbuster

India’s Somdev Devvarman faces a potential second round opponent in Spanish World No.38, Marcel Granollers, at the Aircel Chennai Open which begins on Monday. Before that, the top-ranked Indian, who finds himself in the same quarter as the French fourth seed Benoit Paire, needs to negotiate his way past one of the four qualifiers.

“It’s never easy playing against someone who wins three games in two days in the qualifying. But I hope to do well and give the fans something to cheer about,” said the 2009 finalist and World No.90.

“Granollers is a fantastic player. He reached the semis here in 2009 and had a good U.S. Open this year. He is a typical Spanish grinder with a good all-court game. He is indeed a tough opponent,” he added.

At the draw held here on Saturday, the top four seeds — Stanislas Wawrinka, Mikhail Youzhny, Fabio Fognini and Benoit Paire — all received byes, as has been the norm in recent years.

Of the top eight, Wawrinka, Fognini, Vasek Pospisil and last year’s singles finalist Roberto Bautista Agut are slotted into the top half of the draw while Youzhny, Paire, Granollers and Edouard Roger-Vasselin occupy the bottom half.

The other two Indian in fray, Yuki Bhambri and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, have been handed stiff openers. While the former faces the 22-year-old Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, the ATP’s most improved player of the year, the latter needs to surmount the ATP’s ‘Star of Tomorrow’ (the youngest player who finishes in the top-100), 20-year-old Czech Jiri Vesely.

Victories in the first round for Bhambri and Jeevan will put them face-to-face with possible opponents in Fognini and Roger-Vasselin respectively.

The only blockbuster opener comes from the doubles draw. Rohan Bopanna and Aisam ul-Haq Qureshi, who lead the field as the top seeds, will take on defending champions Wawrinka and Paire.

Leander Paes and Fognini, playing together for the first time, are seeded second. Devvarman, who had hoped to enter the doubles field in combination with Purav Raja, failed to make the cut.

In the qualifying rounds which commenced on Saturday, only two Indians of the nine in total progressed to the second round. R. Ramkumar overcame Sumit Nagal 6-2, 6-0 while Sanam Singh ousted Ajai Selvaraj 6-0, 6-0.

The top seed in the qualifying draw, Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky, ranked 98 in the world and Roger Federer’s conqueror at Wimbledon 2013, fell at the very first hurdle, losing 1-6, 6-4, 4-6 to the Russian World No.270 Alexander Kudryavtsev.

Qualifying results: First round: Alexander Kudryavtsev (Rus) bt Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukr) 6-1, 4-6, 6-4; Go Soeda (Jpn) bt Mohit Mayur 7-6(2), 7-5; Dusan Lajovic (Srb) bt Mukund Sasikumar 6-3, 6-4; Rajeev Ram (USA) bt Lorenzo Giustino (Ita) 3-6, 6-4, 3-2 (retd); Mikhail Elgin (Rus) bt Andrej Martin (Svk) 0-6, 7-6(5), 6-0; Illya Marchenko (Ukr) bt Flavio Cipolla (Ita) 6-3, 6-0; Radu Albot (Mda) bt Yasutaka Uchiyama (Jpn) 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-1; Frederick Nielsen (Den) bt Marton Fucsovics (Hun) 6-3, 6-2; Karen Khachanov (Rus) bt Hiroki Moriya (Jpn) 6-2, 6-4; Sanam Singh bt Ajai Selvaraj 6-0, 6-0; Henri Laaksonen (Sui) bt Sriram Balaji 6-1, 5-7, 6-4; Alessandro Giannessi (Ita) bt Mate Pavic (Cro) 6-4, 7-6(3); Norbert Gombos (Svk) bt Benjamin Balleret (Mon) 7-5, 7-6(7); R. Ramkumar bt Sumit Nagal 6-2, 6-0; Philipp Oswald (Aut) bt Saketh Myneni 6-3, 6-4; Ze Zhang (Chn) bt Vijay Sundar Prashanth 6-4, 6-1.

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