Chennai: India's singles challengers at the Chennai Open today drew tough first-round opponents as Yuki Bhambri was pitted against world number 56 Dutch Robin Haase while comeback man Somdev Devvarman will open his campaign against Czech Jann Hajek, ranked 106.
Both Yuki, ranked 217, and Somdev (663) have been granted wild card entries into the top ATP tournament. Somdev, who rose to as high as 63 in the singles ranking in 2011, had reached the singles final here in 2009 but a shoulder injury, which needed surgery to heal, put a brake on his progress.
"I have trained hard and happy that I do not experience any pain on my shoulder and it is working well. I am looking forward to staying healthy in the whole new season. I am playing Jann Hajek for the first time," he said. Yuki Bhambri, who has had some decent results last year, will also be playing his rival Robin Haase for the first time on ATP tour.
Meanwhile, the top four seeds in the tournament, starting from world no. 6 Tomas Berdych; Janko Tipsarevic (9) of Serbia; Croatia's Marin Cilic, twice winner of the title here; and world no. 17 and defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka have been granted byes into the second round.
Wawrinka said it would be tough to get into the groove in his first tournament after the off-season. "It's always tough, after not having practised for one or two months. But I've played really well here, and in 2011 I played my best tennis," Wawrinka, who won the title here last year having initially deciding to skip the event, said.
In the doubles, defending champion Leander Paes and his new partner E Roger Vasselin of France would be playing Ratiwantana brothers from Thailand while Mahesh Bhupathi and Daniel Nestor of Canada will take on young Indian pair of N Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhian of India.
Third-seeded Rohan Bopanna and Rajiv Ram (USA) clash with Yen-Hsun Lu of Taipei and Go Soeda of Japan.