Chennai: Local favourite Somdev Devvarman could clash with defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in the second round of the Aircel Chennai Open if both the players manage to clear the first round hurdle.
Ranked 84, Somdev on Saturday drew French player Eric Prodon, placed 13 spots below the Indian in ranking ladder, for his tournament opener as the draw ceremony was held here.
Somdev, who made the final here in 2009 as a wildcard, said he's not taking his first round opponent lightly. "Eric is a very good player. I'll take it match by match and if I play well, I'll give myself a chance to win (lot of matches)," he said.
"Playing here is a great feeling, and I hope to start a good year with Chennai Open. I have attached a great deal of sentimental value to this venue, as this is where I grew up and played most of my (early) tennis. It's a long way before I start thinking of playing against Stan . Hopefully, if I can play good tennis I can beat him. Hopefully, the heat and humidity will help me acclimatise better with the one in Melbourne (Australian open)," he said.
Somdev and Prodon have never played each other before. Meanwhile, the top four seeds in the tournament, starting from World No 9 Janko Tipsarevic, World No 10 Nicolas Almagro, defending champion and World No 17 Wawrinka and World No 31 Milos Raonic, have been given byes into the second round.
The draw from this year has been shortened to 28 players in the first round from 32. Wawrinka said it would be tough to get into the groove in his first tournament after the off-season. "It's always tough, after not having practiced for one or two months. But I've played really well here and last year I played my best tennis (here)."
Other interesting match to watch out for is an all Belgian affair between former champion and last year's finalist Xavier Malisse and wildcard David Goffin.
Goffin had upset home favourite Rohan Bopanna in last year's edition and emerged as a crowd favourite, resulting in him being awarded a wildcard. The other two wildcards have been granted to India's talented teenager Yuki Bhambri and Davis Cupper Vishnu Vardhan.
Meanwhile, Milos Raonic (ranked 31), who was present at the draw ceremony said, "This will be my first tournament after six weeks. So it's a good platform to build up for the next year and continue the progress. I will look to improve next year and keep working hard. The more number of matches at the start of the year will help me prepare better for important fixtures."
Former winner of both singles and doubles titles, Malisse said, "There aren't many changes, and obviously if the tournament is good, you don't need many changes. I have been here a few times, and it has been great in every aspect, be it the organising or the hotel."
The doubles event will see top seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna meet the Belgian-British pair of Malisse and Ken Skupsky in the first round. Third seeds Leander Paes and Janko Tipsarevic will meet the Indo-Serbian pair of Somdev and Treat Conrad Huey.