Tough 1st round for Bopanna, Somdev

Chennai: An all-Indian encounter is in the offing with the posibbility of country`s two best players, Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna facing each other in the second round of the Aircel ATP Chennai Open tennis tournament if they clear their first hurdle starting here on January 3.

According to the draw announced here today, Somdev, ranked 106th in the world, and Rohan Bopanna would be crossing swords in the second round provided they win their tournament openers.

While Bopanna has a tough first round opponent in wild card entrant and last year finalist, Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, Somdev will take on a qualifier to be announced tomorrow.

The first round match against Wawrinka will also give Bopanna a chance to avenge his last year`s first round 1-6 4-6 defeat at the hands of the same opponent.

But it won`t be as easy task for the Bangalorean as Wawrinka ended on the second spot last year after losing to Marin Cilic of Crotia in the summit clash.

Among other Indians, wild card entrant Yuki Bhambri, who is making his fourth appearance here, will also play a qualifier in the first round.

"This is my fourth visit to Chennai. I have been here for the last couple of days and I hope to do well," Yuki said after the draw of lots.

Somdev, meanwhile, refused to comment on his prospective sceond round clash against Bopanna but said he was looking forward to the first round encounter between the Bangalorean and Wawrinka.

"Rohan has had two good matches on the Centre Court here during the Davis Cup while Stan has had a good year. It should be a good match," the local favourite said.

Somdev, who made the country proud winning the singles gold in the Delhi Commonwealth Games as well as the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, said, "It is always nice to return to Chennai and I have been here for the past five days and trying to get used to the conditions. I have been hitting the ball well."

Among the prominent stars in action, top seed and and world number 6 Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic will meet Portuguese journeyman 101th ranked Frederico Gil.

Defending champion and second seed Cilic will take on Japan`s Kei Nishikori, ranked 98.

Commenting on the match between Cilic and Nishikori during the draw ceremony, Wawrinka said, "Whoever wins (Cilic or Nishikori) it will be a tough three-setter."

Wawrinka had earlier decided to skip the Chennai Open and later expressed his desire to play here, forcing the organisers to give him one of the three wild cards.

Fourth-seeded Richard Gasquet of France is pitted against a qualifier while another Frenchman and fifth seed Jeremy Chardy will take on Slovakia`s Blaz Kavcic.

Sixth seed Janko Tipsarav of Serbia will play Argentina`s Eduardo Schwank while seventh-seeded Belgian Xavier Malisse, the lone player to win both a double here, will take on Turkey`s Ilhan Marsel

The Netherland`s Robin Haase, eighth seed, has been drawn against Canada`s Frank Dancevic in another first round encounter.