Bangkok, Mumbai Out of Balance: ATP Previews

Posted on September 24, 2007

The Thailand Open in Bangkok and the Kingfisher Airlines Open in Mumbai, India, have roughly the same amount of prize money this week, but it's apparent who has more cash where it counts -- under the table, as in appearance fees.

The Thailand Open boasts three Top 10 players with some of the most charismatic names in the game in Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick, along with Czech ball-bludgeoner Tomas Berdych. Throw in former No. 2 Tommy Haas and former No. 1 Carlos Moya among the seeds and you have a solid event.

In Mumbai you have no Top 10 players, with a field headlined by Richard Gasquet, whose best-known result of late was pulling from his first-round match at the US Open citing a fever. Second-seeded in Mumbai is former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, now ranked outside the Top 20. He is followed by a host of non-marquee seeded players, many of who wouldn't even gain entry to a Masters Series event field by virtue of their low rank in Paul-Henri Mathieu, Jarkko Nieminen, Fabrice Santoro, Stefan Koubek, Julien Benneteau and Olivier Rochus, the last three ranked outside the Top 50.

The Thailand Open, by contrast, even had world No. 2 Rafael Nadal in their mix before the Spaniard withdrew citing a sore knee.

Mumbai organizers lost Marat Safin and Marcos Baghdatis to injuries, and may lose Hewitt before the event even begins since the Aussie withdrew from a Davis Cup match over the weekend with a viral infection.

As if things weren't bad enough in Mumbai, constant rains have kept players from practicing in the run-up to the event.

Joining Djokovic, Roddick, Berdych, Haas and Moya among the Bangkok seeds are Russian Dmitry Tursunov, Croat Ivo Karlovic and Spain's Fernando Verdasco. Openers of note include (5) Moya vs. German Benjamin Becker, (7) Karlovic vs. Feliciano Lopez, (8) Verdasco vs. Swede bomber Joachim Johansson, (4) Haas vs. Vince Spadea, and (2) Roddick vs. (WC) Yeu-Tzuoo Wang of Taipei.

In Mumbai, (3) Mathieu opens against (WC) Nicolas Kiefer, and (7) Benneteau vs. former Top 10er Rainer Schuettler are among the few first-round encounters of interest.