Date : September 20, 2014
DEFENDING CHAMP SOUSA AND ‘HALF-KAMPUNG KID’ KYRGIOS RECEIVE TRICKY FIRST ROUND TIES AT THE MALAYSIAN OPEN, KUALA LUMPUR 2014 SINGLES DRAW

MALAYSIAN WILD CARDS FEATURE IN TODAY’S FIRST ROUND OF QUALIFYING

 

 

The main draw of the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2014 singles event was held live today at the main entrance of Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil as the first round of the singles qualifiers featuring three Malaysian wild cards also got underway.

 

With the top four seeds, Kei Nishikori of Japan (world No.8), Ernests Gulbis of Latvia (No.13), Leonardo Mayer from Argentina (No.25) and Julien Benneteau of France (No.29) all receiving byes in the first round, early focus shifts to the remaining seeded players.

 

One of the more intriguing matchups in the first round sees eighth seed Nick Kyrgios, nicknamed the ‘half-kampung kid’ here in Malaysia, facing off against fellow Australian Marinko Matosevic.

 

The 19-year-old Kyrgios has won three Challenger tournaments this year and reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, shooting up more than 150 ranking points to enjoy a current career high of No.51.

 

Meanwhile, his opponent, 29-year-old Matosevic, was ranked as high as No.39 in February last year and will no doubt use his experience to put up a strong fight against his in-form and higher ranked compatriot.

 

Sixth seed and defending champion Joao Sousa of Portugal, ranked No.39 on the ATP tour and currently playing his semi-final at this week’s ATP 250 in Metz, France, will kick off the defense of his title against Benjamin Becker of Germany (No.60). Becker defeated Sousa on the grass courts of the Top Shelf Open in Holland three months ago and the 25-year-old Portuguese now has the opportunity for revenge on the court that brought him his first ATP title a year ago.

 

Fifth seed Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay (No.38), who lost to eventual winner Joao Sousa in the second round last year, will face Austrian Jurgen Melzer in the first round, while seventh seed Pablo Andujar, who is ranked No.44, will meet Gregoire Burquier of France in his first match.

 

In singles qualifying results, the first Malaysian qualifying round wild card to take to court, Johor-born Muhammad-Ashaari bin Zainal Abidin, put up a valiant effort but went down 6-3, 6-3 to Scott Lipsky of the USA in 62 minutes.

 

The 25-year-old Ashaari struggled to cope with the pace and power of the American doubles specialist, who does not currently possess an ATP singles ranking but is highly ranked in doubles at No.36.

 

In an all-Malaysian singles qualifying clash, Syed Mohd Agil Syed Naguib upset his higher ranked compatriot Mohd Assri Merzuki 6-0, 6-3 just over an hour. The 19-year-old Merzuki, who is Malaysia’s top ranked tennis player, struggled with lingering effects of the flu and never found his rhythm against the consistent Mohd Agil.

 

“I played it safe, kept the ball in and wasn’t overly aggressive as I know my opponent wasn’t feeling too well. It’s my first time in the second round after four attempts and I’m feeling a lot more confident,” said the 20-year-old.

 

Agil now faces an uphill task against third seeded qualifier Takuto Niki of Japan, who is ranked No.345 on the Tour and comes into the tournament in the best form of his career.

 

“He’s a steady player and an aggressive baseline player. I will play to my strengths, start off playing safe and maybe get a little bit more aggressive as the match progresses,” added Agil.

 

The only other Malaysian qualifying wild card who has yet to play is 16-year-old Koay Hao Sheng, who drew a bye in the first round and will take to court tomorrow against James Ward of England.

 

In other singles qualifying matches played today, Singekrawee Wattanakul of Thailand defeated Mithun Murali of India 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in a hard fought victory lasting 2 hours and 7 minutes. Austrian Philipp Oswald also moved into the second round of qualifying after beating Mexican Santiago Gonzales 6-4, 6-3 in 71 minutes. Stefan Merunka of Croatia eased past Brit Joe Cooper 6-3, 6-3 in 74 minutes to also make the next round.

 

Qualifying matches for the singles event will continue tomorrow while the singles and doubles main draw is set to get underway from Monday afternoon.

 

Events to look forward to in the coming days include a photo shoot with Nick Kyrgios on a specially constructed grass court at Merdeka Square on Sunday morning, a public autograph session with Kei Nishikori on Sunday afternoon at Pavilion mall at 5pm and a signature photo shoot with Michael Chang and Kei Nishikori at the Petronas Towers on Monday morning followed by a 6th anniversary media conference with Chang, Nishikori, tournament sponsors and representatives of the Ministry of Tourism & Culture, Malaysia.

 

On Tuesday, Ernests Gulbis will visit a KPJ Healthcare hospital in KL and a charity activity with the players at the DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur in aid of Hope Malaysia will be held on Wednesday morning.  

 

Wednesday evening will see the much awaited “Town Hall Meeting” where Nick Kyrgios and his mother “Nill”, who hails from Malaysia, will be meeting fans on Centre Court to answer their questions and discuss their journey in life and tennis.  

 

Kei Nishikori is likely to play his first round match on Wednesday evening whilst Kyrgios should feature in singles and doubles on Monday and/or Tuesday.

 

The tournament is proud to welcome back its suite of official sponsors. In addition to the distinguished support of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia and Tourism Malaysia as well as the Ministry of Youth & Sports, the event is proud to have prestigious commercial sponsors that include Rado, CNN International, the DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Wilson, the Albukhary Foundation, Astro, the ATP World Tour’s Premier Partner Corona, as well as welcome on board KPJ Healthcare Berhad, making its first foray into sponsorship of professional tennis.  Other supplier level sponsors include House Restaurant, Cream & Fudge, Pizza Hut, 100Plus, KFC and KiekLover.KL.

 

Tickets prices remain very reasonable and range from RM 10 to RM 160.  There will be free admission between Saturday, September 20 and Tuesday, September 23. Tickets can be purchased now on-line via the tournament website /2014/tickets.php, at TicketCharge outlets or through the ticket hotline at TicketCharge Ph: 603-92228811
  
For more information on the tournament, visit www.MalaysianOpenTennis.com or  https://www.facebook.com/MalaysianOpen.KualaLumpur  or https://twitter.com/KLopentennis.

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Local Media Director, Malaysia, Mr. Ghaz Ramli : ghazoo21@gmail.com ; +60 11 33241521 (MAS) / +61 4 23479484 (AUS)



 

About the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur
Please visit: www.MalaysianOpenTennis.com

 

About Malaysia
Please visit: www.tourism.gov.my

 

About IMG
Please visit: www.img.com

 

About the ATP World Tour
Please visit: www.ATPWorldTour.com

 

 

 

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