Murray, Ferrero, Baghdatis Headline Marseille Tuesday

Posted on February 12, 2008

Three seeds – No. 4 Andy Murray, No. 5 Juan Carlos Ferrero and No. 6 Marcos Baghdatis – take Centre Court for their first round openers on Tuesday at the Open 13 in Marseille, France. Four Frenchman are also in action, including 2006 champion Arnaud Clement and 2001 finalist Sebastien Grosjean.

Frenchman Nicolas Mahut opens proceedings against Russian qualifier Michail Elgin. Mahut, 25, is ranked a career-high No. 44 while Elgin, 26, is ranked No. 209. Mahut has a 2-4 record in Marseille, reaching the second round in his event debut in 2001 (l. to Yevgeny Kafelnikov) and also last year (d. Ivan Ljubicic; l. to Jarkko Nieminen). He comes to Marseille straight from a semifinal effort last week at the Bergamo Challenger (l. to Julien Benneteau). In 2007, he reached two grass court ATP finals at Queen’s (l. to Andy Roddick) and Newport (l. to Fabrice Santoro) and posted a personal-best 22 match wins. Elgin has a 0-4 career ATP record with all four of his appearances coming in his hometown event in St. Petersburg. He won three Futures titles and the New Delhi 2 Challenger last year.

British No. 1 Andy Murray, the fourth seed, meets Dutch qualifier Jesse Huta Galung. Murray, 20, won the Doha title in the first week of the 2008 season but suffered a first round loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his first round match at the Australian Open. He finished 2007 ranked No. 11, winning two titles (San Jose, St. Petersburg) in four finals (Doha, Metz). Huta Galung, 22, made his only other appearance at an ATP tournament last year by qualifying into Marseille (l. to eventual winner Gilles Simon). He won the Alphen aan den Rijn Challenger in his home country last September.

Fifth-seeded Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero takes a 3-1 lifetime record into his match against Korean Hyung-Taik Lee in their first meeting since 2005. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Ferrero saved two match points before posting the 7-5 win in the third set. Lee’s only win against the former World No. 1 came in the 2003 Sydney final, when he saved a match point en route to a win in a third-set tiebreak. Ferrero, who celebrates his 28th birthday Tuesday, returns to Marseille for the first time since 2005. He reached the quarterfinals in his event debut in 2002 (l. to Cedric Pioline). The Spaniard opened the 2008 season by reaching his 27th career ATP final in Auckland (l. to Philipp Kohlschreiber). Lee, 32, is making his first event appearance. He posted a personal-best 25 match wins in 2007, achieving his best result on hard courts (16-15) with one semifinal and four quarterfinal finishes.

Frenchman Julien Benneteau faces Romanian Andrei Pavel for the first time. Benneteau, 26, has a 2-2 record in Marseille and reached the quarterfinals last year (l. to Jarkko Nieminen). He reached the Auckland semifinals in January (l. to Ferrero) and was a finalist at the Bergamo Challenger last week (l. to Andreas Seppi). Pavel, 34, is looking for his first win of the season (0-4) as he takes on his third straight Frenchman. He lost both his singles rubbers to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra in the first round of Davis Cup action. Pavel has a 1-2 record in Marseille and reached the second round in his debut in 1999 (l. to Nicolas Escude).

Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, the No. 6 seed and 2007 finalist, faces 2006 champion Arnaud Clement in the first round. The two have split their previous meetings, with Clement winning in their 2006 Lyon opener and Baghdatis prevailing in a third-set tie-break in last year’s Zagreb quarterfinals en route to his second career ATP title. Baghdatis, 22, is meeting his third event champion in five matches this season; at the Australian Open, he defeated past winners Thomas Johansson and Marat Safin before losing to Lleyton Hewitt. Baghdatis has a 4-2 record in Marseille while Clement has a 19-9 record. Clement, 30, has a 9-1 record in the Marseille first round with his only loss at the stage coming last year to Spaniard David Ferrer. He reached the final in 1999, falling in three sets to compatriot Fabrice Santoro, and clinched the title in 2006 by defeating Croat Mario Ancic.

Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka will attempt to improve his record against Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean to 2-0 in their first meeting since their 2005 Rotterdam opener. Wawrinka, 22, is making his Marseille debut this week. He attained a career-high No. 28 ranking in January after opening the year with a run to Doha final (l. to Andy Murray). Grosjean, 29, has a 14-7 record in Marseille and was a runner-up in 2001 (l. to Yevgeny Kafelnikov). With the exception of his event debut in 1997, he has advanced to the second round in each of his Marseille appearances. Last October, he ended a five-year title drought by becoming the sixth Frenchman to win the Lyon title (d. Marc Gicquel). (ATP Digital Services)