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Teenage malaysian pair given doubles wild card entry

Teenage Malaysian tennis rising stars Mohd Assri Merzuki and Syed Mohd Agil Syed Naguib were given a golden opportunity to play against the best in world tennis as they were handed a final doubles main draw wild card here at the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2012, that began today with the qualifying rounds at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Seventeen-year-old Mohd Assri and 18-year-old Mohd Agil will face Polish top seeds and 2009 tournament champions Mariusz Frystenberg and Marcin Matkowski in their first round match on Monday. The Poles were also finalists in the tournament in 2010.

“I am proud and very thankful to the organisers IMG and LTAM for giving us this opportunity. There is little pressure on us as we are playing the top seeds but we will do the very best we can to put up a fight,” said Agil, who added that duo have been playing tennis together since young, but have been training separately over the last three years.

Another Malaysian will also feature in the doubles main draw, as Si Yew Ming and singles wild card and US Open first round winner Jimmy Wang of Chinese Taipei will face third seeded Austrian-Brazilian pairing of Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares, the 2012 US Open Mixed doubles Champion.

Five Malaysians in total took part as wild cards in the qualifying matches held today, but none managed to overcome their more experienced opponents.

In the first match of the day on Centre Court, Treat Conrad Huey overcame Malaysian youngster Mohd Assri Merzuki 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in a match that lasted close to two hours.

Fresh off a strong showing on the ITF Junior Circuit this year, 17-year-old Mohd Assri played brilliantly in the second set to tie the match, breaking his opponents serve three times, but failed to maintain his energy in the third against the 27-year-old Philippine doubles specialist. It was the first time that a local player had won a set in the tournament.

Malaysian number one Si Yew Ming went down tamely in the second round of the qualifying to Indian Sanam Singh 6-0, 6-1 in 56 minutes. The 33-year-old had earlier notched Malaysia’s first ever win in an ATP 250 tournament when he beat fellow Malaysian wild card entry Colin Wong 6-3, 6-1 in 65 minutes in their first round qualifying match.

Meanwhile, another Malaysian wild card entry Ahmed Deedat Abdul Razak lost to Great Britain’s Dominic Inglot 6-1, 6-4 in 51 minutes, with the 17-year old Malaysian struggling to hold his serve throughout the match. Despite the results, it was an encouraging day for the locals who have all improved since the tournament last year – and with a first time set and now a match won by locals in the event, things are looking brighter for the future.

American Michael Yani who lived in Singapore for eight years and has played every edition of the tournament, overcame a strong first set challenge from Mohd Agil to move on to the qualifying finals with a 7-5, 6-1 victory. The plucky 18-year-old held serve admirably in the first set against the second seeded qualifier ranked No. 241, but eventually succumbed in the ninth game.

In other matches held, third seeded qualifier Riccardo Ghedin moved on as expected to the final qualifying round after disposing of Austrian Alexander Peya 6-2, 6-4. The Italian will face Treat Conrad Huey tomorrow for a spot in the main draw.

Other matches tomorrow will see Austrian Julian Knowle face Japanese Toshihide Matsui, Michael Yani taking on Sanam Singh and another American Austin Karosi taking on Dominic Inglot of Great Britain for the four main draw single spots up for grabs.

Live main draw throws up a few intriguing first round clashes

The main draw for the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur was held publicly at the main entrance of the Putra Stadium at 3pm today, with tournament third seed and top Asian tennis player Kei Nishikori assisting in the draw.

The Japanese world No. 17, a local favourite after three consecutive appearances, did himself no favours by setting up a second round clash with Albert Ramos, should the Spaniard dispose of his qualifier opponent in the first round.

Currently ranked at No. 46, the 24-year-old Barcelona native Ramos is in the form of his life, having made the semifinal of two ATP 250 series tournaments this year, as well as his first ever career final at Casablanca in April.

“The field this year is stronger than before and I hope I can make the final. I need to be strong mentally and play at my best,” said the affable 23-year-old Japanese of his chances.

Nishikori has cause for confidence, as he is playing the most consistent tennis of his senior career, and made the quarter-finals of both the Australian Open in January and London Olympics in July, along with a host of other 250 series tournaments this year.

In Nishikori’s section of the draw is 2009 tournament champion Russian Nikolay Davydenko, who is still in France after making the final four of the ATP 250 Series Moselle Open. Once he arrives in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, he will face a tricky first round encounter with in-form Slovakian Martin Klizan, who is also in the final stages of the ATP 250 in Russia this week and who has won four Challenger tournaments this year and knocked Jo-Wilfred Tsonga out of this year’s US Open.

The 31-year-old former world No. 3 Davydenko currently ranks just three spots behind the mutually in-form Klizan at No. 48, making their clash among the more intriguing of the first round.

Meanwhile, his younger brother and twenty-year-old wild card Philip Davydenko has drawn a tough first round meeting against 24-year-old Australian Matthew Ebden, who is enjoying the best ranking of his career at No. 63.

Top seeded Spaniard David Ferrer who will play his first match on Thursday evening, has a seemingly relatively straight forward path to the semi-finals, and is likely to face world No 88 Russian Alex Bogomolov Jr., who faces a qualifier in his first match, in the second round.

Second seed and world #11 Juan Monaco of Argentina makes his debut in the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur against Chinese Taipei wildcard Jimmy Wang, who will need to beat a qualifier to set a date with the world No. 11 on Wednesday or Thursday.

Fourth seeded 23-year-old Alexandr Dolgopolov, currently ranked No. 19, will face the winner of the first round match between Colombian Alejandro Falla and American Rajeev Ram in the second round.

In another interesting duel, fifth seed world No. 32 Feliciano Lopez will need to successfully negotiate past 24-year-old Slovak Lukas Lacko in the first round. Lacko had a strong six match winning run in the Australian Open earlier this year, where he was eventually disposed of by Rafael Nadal and also made it to the final of the PDZ Zagreb Indoors in February.

Sixth seed Pablo Andujar of Spain will face Uzbek Denis Istomin in the first round. Both 26-year-olds are ranked just five placed apart, with the higher ranked Andujar enjoying his career best ranking of No. 33.

Meanwhile, 31-year-old Lopez, who was in the top 20 as early as June this year, has yet to make a final in 2012, but enjoyed strong runs in the London Olympics, US Open and Australian Open, where he too was overcome by Nadal.

Another wildcard, comeback king American Brian Baker, will also face a qualifier in the first round, before a possible clash with the newly married eighth seed Austrian Jurgen Melzer, who is up against the lowest ranked main draw entry, 22-year-old Canadian Vasek Pospisil, in the first round.

The tournament is supported by the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia and Tourism Malaysia and sponsors that include Rado, CNN International, the DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Wilson, 100 Plus, the Albukhary Foundation, Astro and the ATP World Tour’s Premier Partner Corona. The event is sanctioned by the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the official website, www.MalaysianOpenTennis.com.

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