Hewitt Opens Play in Mumbai, Gasquet Also in Action

Posted on September 27, 2007

Three postponed first round matches and all eight second round encounters will take the court on Thursday at the Kingfisher Open in Mumbai, India.

At 11am local time, the three first round matches that were pushed from Wednesday’s schedule to Thursday due to rain will take Centre Court, Court 1 and Court 2 (please see Wednesday’s Notes for head-to-heads).

The first second round match on Centre Court pits unseeded Yen-Hsun Lu against wild card Nicolas Kiefer. Lu tries to win consecutive matches in an ATP main draw for the third time in his career, having made the third round in his first ATP main draw at Queen’s Club in 2004 (beating then-World No. 3 Guillermo Coria en route) and the quarterfinals at Memphis earlier this year (his first ATP quarterfinal). Having missed over a year due to a left wrist injury, Kiefer has been in fine form since returning to the ATP circuit during the grass court season, working his way back up to No. 130 (having been unranked between June 18 and July 8) on the strength of a pair of semifinal runs, including in his most recent outing in Beijing. Kiefer beat No. 3 seed Paul-Henri Mathieu in the first round this week. Lu fell first round in his Mumbai debut last year; Kiefer makes his debut this year.

The next singles match on Centre Court pits winners of two morning first round matches against each other, namely No. 2 seed Lleyton Hewitt or qualifier Ti Chen against Boris Pashanski or Sergio Roitman. Hewitt is by far the most accomplished of the four - a 26-time singles titlist on the ATP circuit (including Grand Slams at the 2001 US Open and 2002 Wimbledon, Tennis Masters Cups in 2001 and 2002 and the Las Vegas title earlier this year) and a former No. 1. He has also won 13 more matches this year than the three other players combined prior to the start of Thursday’s play. In an entire career of ATP main draws, Hewitt has lost just once to a player ranked outside the Top 200, to then-No. 203 Ivo Karlovic at Wimbledon over four years ago - not a good omen for the No. 321-ranked Chen. Neither Pashanski nor Roitman have had their best runs of the year at ATP hardcourt events - Pashanski has won one match on the surface this year (earlier this month - Beijing) while Roitman hasn’t won a match on it this year (although he reached two quarterfinals on clay). By contrast, Hewitt has won 16 matches on hardcourts this year. All four men are making their Mumbai debuts this week. Should Hewitt beat Chen, this will be the first time since the ATP Masters Series event in Toronto in 2004 that he will have to play two matches in one day (there, he beat Jiri Novak before falling to Fabrice Santoro).

The last second round match on Centre pits No. 1 seed Richard Gasquet against unseeded Fabio Fognini. Gasquet has had a breakthrough season, reaching his career-first Grand Slam semifinal (which was, in fact, his first time to reach even the quarterfinals at a major) and subsequently breaking into the Top 10 for the first time, spending five weeks among the game’s elite before dropping out. He is playing his first tournament since withdrawing from his second round match at the US Open due to a viral illness, and in the first round had an easy win over Kristor Vliegen. Fognini played his first ATP event almost exactly two years ago and only in his last two events won back-to-back matches for the first time, at Kitzbuehel and the ATP Masters Series event in Montreal (beating Andy Murray there for his first career Top 20 win). Both are playing here for the first time.

Other seeds in action are No. 4 Jarkko Nieminen, who tries to reach his third quarterfinal of 2007; and No. 5 Fabrice Santoro, No. 6 Stefan Koubek and No. 8 Olivier Rochus, who all try to reach their fourth of 2007. (ATP Digital Services)