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Amritraj, Varadhan get wildcards

Prakash, had twice made the pre-quarterfinals in 2004 and 2006 and lost in the first round in the other four years.

sports Updated: Dec 24, 2007 20:15 IST

Prakash Amritraj, ranked 269 in the world, has got a wildcard to the ATP Chennai Open for the sixth year in succession, along with compatriot Vishnu Varadhan (ranked 944).

Thirteen-year-old tennis prodigy Yuki Bhambri of Delhi, who distinguished himself as number one (U-16) and three (U-18) in the AITA ranking list, has been extended a wildcard in the qualifying event of the championship slated for December 29 and 30 with the main event starting on New Year's Eve.

IMG, owners and organisers of the championship sponsored by a consortium of Indian companies, has given the third main draw wild card to Spaniard Bartolome Salva Vidal for the second successive year.

Vidal played a tough first round match against Austria's Stefan Koubek stretching him to three sets last year.

Thanking IMG for the opportunity to play in an ATP international series, Bhambri, ranked 1469 in world, said he was thrilled at the prospect.

"I will contine to play each game with enthusiasm and determination and look forward to the challenges that await me," he said.

Prakash said he always looked forward to playing at home.

"Undoubtedly, this year's field is the toughest but I am looking forward to give my best playing alongside (Rafael) Nadal, (Xavier) Malisse, (Marcos) Baghdatis, (Carlos) Moya, (Mikhail) Youzhny and others," he said in a IMG press release.

Prakash,24, a regular feature at the Chennai Open, had twice made the pre-quarterfinals in 2004 and 2006 and lost in the first round in the other four years.

After beating compatriot Harsh Mankad (also a wildcard) in 2004, Prakash went down fighting (6-3 1-6 2-6) to Thierry Ascione of France, who accounted for Rafel Nadal at 7-6 (5) 6-4 in the first round.

In 2006, Prakash got the better of Ricardo Mello of Brazil before losing to second seeded Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 6-3 0-6 4-6 in the pre-quarterfinals.

Current national champion Vardhan said "it is a great incentive to get a wildcard for the Chennai Open. It is triple happiness for me because winning singles and then doubles in domestic national championship is no joke. And then to top it all, I get to play some great international stars at the Chennai Open."