Wednesday, 21 September 2011

ATP World Tour 250 - The Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2011

The Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2011 will play host to singles players from more than 15 different nations, with Russians numbering the most at three, followed by the Czechs and Serbs with two each.

“The cross-section of nations makes things incredibly exciting for the tournament because it allows word of the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur to cross the continents from Asia to Australia and from Europe to the Americas,” Tournament Director Nick Freyer, of organisers IMG, said. “I believe we are poised to see the best ever Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur unfold as such a variety of personalities will have fans enthralled with their unique styles and brands of tennis.”

“The entire tournament is delighted to welcome to KL such a nice mix of fresh faces and old friends.  Additionally, there is a wonderful blend of established names and future marquee names that are readily nipping at the heels of those at the highest echelons of the ATP World Tour rankings.”

Between them the players in the line-up for the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2011 have won a total of 37 career titles including the season-ending Championship, the ATP World Tour Finals, and appeared in a total of 40 career finals including a Grand Slam.

Berdych remains one of the most consistent players on the Tour. The Czech is constantly featuring in the business end of tournaments. His great power and reach will be right at home on centre court at Putra Stadium. To prove his consistency this year Berdych, who has career earnings of over $8.5million, has reached the semis in Bastad, Halle, Nice, Dubai and Chennai and he made the quarters at another seven events including the Australian Open and Masters 1000 events in Montreal, Rome, Madrid and Miami.

“It’s great to have been so consistent as I wanted to do that before the season started,’ Berdych said. “I’m looking forward to trying to go further the rest of the year, but so far, the season has been solid.”

Meanwhile, Almagro, nicknamed “Nico”, is enjoying the best year of his career having won three titles, in Nice, Buenos Aires and Costa do Sauipe and reaching the finals in Hamburg and Acapulco. He was also a semi-finalist four times and made the quarters of the Masters 1000 in Montreal last week. This year Almagro, with his glorious single-handed backhand, also became the 25th Spaniard to crack the world’s top-10 and has already banked in excess of $1million in prize money for 2011.

“The only thing that I want is to be at peace with my tennis,” Almagro said. “The only thing I want is to keep on working; working like I am doing and for sure the results are going to keep on coming.”

Stars like Berdych, 2009 winner Nikolay Davydenko and defending champion Mikhail Youzhny have developed quite a following in Kuala Lumpur, but they will be challenged by an incredibly exciting band of young players who have made stunning forays on the world rankings in 2011.

The Australian Bernard Tomic will draw plenty of attention in KL. His amazing run at Wimbledon that saw him reach the quarter-finals from the qualifying rounds, made tennis observers around the world sit up and take note. Then there is the other teenager Ryan Harrison from the USA, who will gain entry into the tournament via a wild card if required, and who is being touted as the next big thing in American tennis. Many feel these two youngsters will develop quite a rivalry in the future and the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2011 could well provide an early glimpse of that.

Joining them will be the explosive game of Canadian Milos Raonic, winner of the San Jose title in 2011, who possesses one of the fastest serves in the world.  Raonic made his breakthrough last year in Kuala Lumpur where he came through qualifying to reach the quarter-finals. The 20 year old from Ontario is thrilling to watch in full flight. His form this year has been so impressive that his ranking went from 156 at the start of the season to a career high of 25.  Recently recovered from a hip injury that required surgery, he will be looking to continue his run of fine form that began last year in Malaysia.

Asian tennis is well represented with Japan’s Kei Nishikori and India’s Somdev Devvarman who have both made impressive strides in 2011, while Malaysia’s #1 Si Yew Ming will certainly have the local tennis community abuzz when he plays doubles with Ryan Harrison. The pair has been granted a wild-card into the main draw of the doubles.

The Malaysian Open is one of only five World Tour stops in Asia and carries a total prize money of US$947,750 (RM2.9 mil). It will feature a 28-player singles main draw and 16 doubles pairs with the qualifying round for singles starting this Saturday.

Defending champion Mikhail Youzhny of Russia will be back in action and the other top stars include world No. 9 Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic, world No. 12 Nicolas Almagro of Spain and Serbians Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki.

Tickets are on sale for as low as RM10 with an Ipad 2 to be given out every day for lucky fans in the catch-the-ball promotion.