The action is back on the picturesque centre and the side courts as the curtain goes up on the 12th edition of Chennai Open 2007 beginning with the qualifying rounds in Chennai on Saturday.
There was excitement all over as tennis fans watched some of the players already arrived and learnt about the arrival of Spaniard Rafael Nadal, the world no 2. Nadal would be making his first appearance here, along with fellow countryman and two time champion Carlos Moya too arrived. Thai Paradorn Srichaphan followed, with World No. 8 David Nalbandian of Argentina expected over the next two days.
While the first round of qualifying matches would be held over two days, the singles main draw of 32 would be made only on Saturday.
The sale of tickets has touched a new high, thanks to the strong field assembled headed by the likes of Nadal and Nalbandian.
However, the only disappointment would be the withdrawal of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. Instead, the Indian challenge will be led by wild cards Prakash Amritraj and Karan Rastogi and qualifiers, if any.
Wild card for Nadal-Vidal
Meanwhile, Nadal and fellow Spaniard Bartolome Salva Vidal have been awarded wild card for the doubles main draw. Vidal has also been given a wild card in the singles main draw of the $416,000 event, along with Indian Davis Cuppers Prakash Amritraj and Karan Rastogi.
Nadal had won doubles here in 2004, partnering Tommy Robredo. He is the top-seed in a strong singles field. Vidal, popularly known as Tomeu, will be making his debut on the ATP tour here and the youngster was given the wild card for his consistent performances in the ITF and Challenger events with a Futures 36 (Vilafranca) win under his belt.
Hingis announces engagement
Gold Coast: MARTINA HINGIS confirmed she became engaged to Czech tennis player Radek Stepanek last month, telling a news conference here on Friday she was surprised it had taken so long for people to notice her ring.
"I'm happy," said the former No. 1-ranked Hingis, showing off a diamond ring. "I was surprised when it was spotted right away (in Australia) because in Switzerland I've been walking around for a month and no-one's said anything."
Hingis was returning to the Gold Coast for the Australian Women's Hardcourt Championship, where she launched her comeback last year after three years on the sidelines, as the last stop before the Australian Open.
Stepanek, 28, reached a career-high No. 8 ranking after reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, but has not played since then because of a neck injury. He is expected to make a comeback in Australia next week.