Spaniards Moya, Lopez Headline Play Today in BangkokPosted on September 25, 2007
First round action begins on Tuesday at the Thailand Open in Bangkok, a US$550,000 International Series tournament.
The first match on Stadium sees Michael Russell face Mischa Zverev for the first time. Bangkok debutant, Russell began the season well, collecting three ATP Challenger Circuit titles. However, the American has not won more than one ATP match in an event since ATP Masters Series Indian Wells, where he reached the fourth round (l. Chela). Russell is 0-4 against German players throughout his career. Zverev reached the Newport quarterfinals (l. Santoro) and, like Russell, has also enjoyed success on the ATP Challenger circuit this season with two titles in Karlsruhe and Istanbul. Zverev is 0-1 lifetime against Americans. The 20-year-old German is ranked a career-high No. 100 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings and is playing in Bangkok for the second time after reaching the quarterfinals in 2006 (l. Safin).
The second match on Stadium pits Spaniard Feliciano Lopez against No. 7 seed Ivo Karlovic of Croatia. Lopez currently leads the series 3-2, winning the most recent encounter at ATP Masters Series Indian Wells in March 2005. Lopez is returning to Bangkok for this third visit, and is looking to improve on previous results here, where he hast lost in the first round on both occasions (l. Johansson in ‘04; l. Srichaphan in ‘06). In 2007, Lopez has reached the US Open fourth round (l. Federer), the semifinals in Stuttgart (l. Nadal) and the quarterfinals in Las Vegas (l. Hewitt). Lopez has a career record of 8-6 against Croatian players and is 1-14 against Top 30 players this year. Karlovic is making his tournament debut and arrives in Bangkok enjoying a career-high South African Airways ATP Ranking of No. 30. The Croat has won ATP titles in Houston (d. Zabaleta) and Nottingham (d. Clement), reached the final in San Jose (l. Murray) and made two semifinals in Washington (l. Roddick) and New Haven (l. Fish) so far in 2007. Against Spanish players Karlovic is 9-15 in his career.
In the third match on the main show court 19-year-old Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro challenges Frank Dancevic of Canada. Del Potro is looking to record his first win over Dancevic, who recorded two wins at Indianapolis and ATP Masters Series Canada (Montreal) this year. Del Potro is making his debut in Bangkok. The Argentine began the season well, reaching the semifinal in Adelaide (l. Guccione) and later made the quarterfinals in Nottingham (l. Karlovic). Del Potro comes into the event having reached the third round at the US Open (l. Djokovic) and has a lifetime 0-2 record against Canadian players. Dancevic has had a successful North American hard-court season, reaching his maiden ATP final in Indianapolis (l. Tursunov) and the quarterfinals of ATP Masters Series Canada in Montreal (l. to Nadal). Dancevic reached the Bangkok second round last year (l. Nieminen). He has a 3-1 career record against Argentines.
Kicking off the night session is a first time meeting between Germany’s Benjamin Becker and No. 5 seed Carlos Moya of Spain. Becker reached a career-high No. 38 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, on March 5, 2007, after making semifinal showings at Delray Beach (l. Blake) and San Jose (l. Karlovic). However, disappointing results since then (8-21 record), including seven straight opening round losses – dating back to Wimbledon (l. to Chela), have seen his ranking plummet to No. 79. Becker will hope to get his year back on track by playing in Bangkok for the second time; he reached the second round last year (l. Ljubicic). Becker is 1-7 against Top 20 players in 2007. Moya returns to the Thailand Open for the first time since 2003, when he advanced to the quarterfinals (l. Nieminen). The 31-year-old Moya clinched his 20th career ATP title in Umag (d. Pavel) this summer and two final appearances in Sydney (l. Blake) and Acapulco (l. Chela) have seen his South African Airways ATP Ranking rise from 43 to No. 15. Most recently the former World No. 1 (March, 15, 1999) reached the US Open quarterfinals for only the second time (l. Djokovic). Interestingly, Moya has won his past seven career meetings against German players.
Israeli qualifier Harel Levy plays home favorite Danai Udomchoke in the final night match on Stadium court. Udomchoke won their only previous encounter at Tokyo in 2001. Levy is making just his second appearance at the Thailand Open, where he will be looking to improve on his first round loss in 2004 (l. Soderling). This is the Israeli’s first ATP event since Indianapolis in July 2006 (l. to Arthurs). The 29-year-old won an ATP Challenger circuit title at Manchester in July. World No. 203 Levy has never beaten a Thai player before in four attempts. Wild card Udomchoke plays at his hometown event for the fifth time; he will be hoping to improve upon his 0-4-tournament record. Udomchoke last won an ATP match at Newport in July (l. to Zverev in the second round). The 27-year-old started the year strongly by reaching the third round at the Australian Open (l. Djokovic) – a career-best performance at a Grand Slam. He has an encouraging 4-3 career record against Israeli players. (ATP Digital Services)