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Assri at Malaysian open, Kuala Lumpur 2012

September 27, 2012 TPFI   

LARGEST EVER MALAYSIAN CONTINGENT TO ATTEMPT SPORTING HISTORY AT MALAYSIAN OPEN, KUALA LUMPUR 2012

Back from injury and with a point to prove, Chinese Taipei national Jimmy Wang is given the second singles wild card nod and will also partner Si Yew Ming in doubles main draw

The 2012 edition of the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur has pulled out all the stops in supporting the local tennis scene, handing out wild cards to no less than five of Malaysia’s best tennis players to compete in the US$ 1 million ATP World Tour tournament, which begins Saturday at Putra Stadium, Bukit Jalil.

No Malaysian has ever won an ATP 250 Series World Tour tennis match before, and this year, it will be up to national number one Si Yew Ming and a host of teenagers, including returning youngsters Ariez Elyaas Deen Heshaam and Ahmed Deedat Abdul Razak, along with debutants Syed Agil Syed Naguib and Mohd Assri Merzuki, to make history.

Rising star 18-year-old Ariez Elyaas has been given the distinction of playing as a wild card in the main draw of the singles, while Si Yew Ming, Ahmed Deedat, Syed Agil and Mohd Assri Merzuki have all been given wild card entries into the singles qualifying tournament that begins Saturday at 10AM. Yew Ming will also partner with singles main draw wild card recipient Jimmy Wang, of Chinese Taipei, to line up as a team in the doubles main draw.

Tournament Director Nick Freyer of organisers IMG praised the burgeoning talents of the Malaysian boys who have shown steady improvement since the tournament was launched,  and knows that exposure to the highest levels of the game are what the local players need to take their own games to the next level.

“One of our objectives in bringing the tournament here was to raise the expectations and standards of Malaysian tennis. Having each year provided these high level playing opportunities for our boys to go up against the stars of the ATP World Tour, we are gradually seeing the benefits of these and other LTAM efforts, with some exciting and young talented players coming through.  And it will only get better,” he said.

Si Yew Ming, the 33-year-old veteran of the Malaysian tennis scene, has seen his No. 1 ranking come under threat from Ariez this year, losing to the youngster in the final of Leg 1 of the National Malaysian Circuit. His performances in leading the Malaysian Davis Cup team, however, have been quite stellar. The strong serving Yew Ming only lost a single match as our nation once again advanced through to contest Group II promotion (but lost out after defeat to Kuwait).

With this being his fourth appearance in the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, Yew Ming’s ability to apply what he has learnt from his past experiences in the tournament will be key as he strives for that elusive first win at Tour level.

Ariez Elyaas can also be considered a veteran of the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, having participated in the last two editions, but the youngster has so far failed to make a mark against higher ranked Tour level players. The experience however certainly has paid off for him, as the teen picked up his first ever ATP point after victories in the qualifying and first round of the Laos ITF Futures held in October last year.

Now entering this tournament as the highest ranked Malaysian player (Si Yew Ming’s ranking has expired due to his absence from the tour), Ariez has be given the gilt edged opportunity of playing for the first time in the main draw of the singles. His wild card entry makes him the youngest Malaysian to ever play in the main draw of an ATP 250 Series tournament.

The local star will surely bank on the crowd at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium for support, and after his strong showing in the Davis Cup and landmark victory over Yew Ming in the final of Leg 1 of the National Malaysian Circuit in February, the confidence of this Kuching-born young man is at an all time high.

Just as Ariez’s victory over Yew Ming will drive him, the same can be said of Syed Agil’s win over Ariez in the semi-finals of Leg 4 of the National Malaysian Circuit, which was held in July. The 18-year-old went on to capture his first title of the year, beating Pruchya Isarov 7-6 (7-3) in the first set before the Thai retired due to injury.

Syed Agil, known for his strong net play, will be making his first appearance in the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, and like Yew Ming and Assri, has been given the chance to shine in the singles qualifying draw.

Ahmed Deedat made his Malaysian Open debut last year and will be back for a second bite at the cherry after he was given a last minute wild card entry into the singles qualifying draw. With a previous high of No. 492 on the ITF junior rankings, the 18-year-old has slipped down to stand currently at No.610. He will, however, look to replicate the form he had in June when he made the semifinals of the Thamrin Cup International Junior Championships in Jakarta if he is to cause an upset this week.

The youngest and perhaps most exciting player rounding off the Malaysian contingent is 17-year-old Mohd Assri. Making his Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur debut in 2012, Assri has been making waves on the ITF Junior circuit this year, emerging champion in Brunei and Trinidad & Tobago, where he also captured the doubles crown with Canadian partner William Tutecky. He had also previously won a doubles crown with G. Moraru in the 2011 USA F15 Futures Doubles.

Currently boasting a junior combined ranking of 208, his soaring performances have earned him a deserving spot in this tournament, which will be a prime opportunity for the Sarawak-born youngster to make even more headlines and a shot at making history for tennis in Malaysia.  Officials of LTAM and all four players themselves joined Tournament Director Freyer at a “Media Gathering and Makan” and court-side photo shoot with celebrity guest Kei Nishikori of Japan at Stadium Putra today.

 

All eyes on Wang as he exorcises injury demons; Davydenko and Norman take final doubles wild card slot.

Meanwhile, back on Tour after a two year hiatus due to a near career ending wrist injury, 27-year-old Chinese Taipei national Jimmy Wang has been confirmed as the second main draw singles wild card recipient. Jimmy qualified for the main draw at the 2012 US Open and also had a good run at Wimbledon this year.

Ranked as high as No. 85 in March of 2006, Wang was forced off the tour in 2008 due to a wrist injury and two subsequent wrist surgeries. As a former Junior world No. 3 and rising star in Asian tennis, the set-back was a painful one for Wang.

He returned in late 2010 with a vengeance and growing in confidence with every game played, he has steadily clawed his way back towards reaching his goal of breaking into the top 100 and getting a ranking higher than the one he had before his injury.

Among his best achievements this year include making the semi-finals of two hard court Challenger tournaments in Australia in January and again the following month in Singapore.

More importantly, the Saudi-Arabian born right hander also did well in the Grand Slams. He made it through the Wimbledon qualifiers, but lost to Fernando Verdasco in the first round, and went one better at the US Open, making it to the second round but bowing out to Frenchman Gilles Simon.

Wang’s victory over Ivo Karlovic in the first round of the US Open was his first victory this year over a Top 100 player.

His affinity for hard courts, coupled with the expected home support he will enjoy as an Asian and the partner of Malaysian Si Yew Ming in the doubles, makes this wild card an interesting dark horse for success in the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, and follows another comeback wild card story for the tournament, after American comeback kid Brian Baker was awarded the first main draw singles wild card.  Baker has since made it into the main draw, paving the way for Ariez’ place in the main draw of the singles.

The third singles wild card has been awarded to Philip Davydenko, brother of the inaugural tournament Champion Nikolay.

In the doubles, Russian Nikolay Davydenko and Belgian partner Dick Norman received the second and final doubles wild card for entry into the main draw. The 6’ 8” 41-year-old Norman is a doubles specialist and although he is currently ranked No. 67, he was in the doubles top-10 as recently as 2010.  As a tournament staple for the last four years, Davydenko’s familiarity with the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur and being one of three players to have held the singles champion trophy, combined with Norman’s firepower, makes this a pairing that could make a mark on the draw.  Should they themselves make it in to the main draw, their slot could go to another Malaysian pairing.

These final player announcements further compound the excitement of the most competitive Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur ever, with marquee attendees including World No. 5 David Ferrer of Spain who will play his first match on Thursday evening, and Argentina’s World No. 11 Juan Monaco, along with Asia’s leading tennis star and World No. 18 Kei Nishikori of Japan.  Nishikori will be on hand Saturday at 3PM to supervise the main singles draw ceremony, which will take place for the public at the entrance foyer of Putra Stadium.

World No. 19 Alexandr Dolgopolov will also feature amongst the top seeds, together with afore-mentioned tournament stalwart Nikolay Davydenko, who won the title in 2009. Meanwhile, American Brian Baker, who received the only other singles main draw wild card entry last week, will be making his debut at the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur. Similar to fellow wild card recipient Wang, the 27-year-old Baker returned to form this year after close to a decade of injury struggles.
Players from over 21 countries and across four continents will contest the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur  which will be broadcast live to over 350 million people across the globe.  The tournament was given a further boost this week when Astro confirmed that they will be producing matches for the international broadcasts in High Definition (HD) for the first time.

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.
 To read the article on malaysianopentennis, please click here.

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