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December 27, 2002 20:35 IST

The Tata Open attracts some of the best tennis talent in the world to India. It also acts as a perfect warm-up tournament for the first Grand Slam of the year, The Australian Open. A look at the profiles of the top seeds of the 2003 Tata Open which will be held in Chennai from December 30.

The Open has twice been presented the ATP's 'Award for Excellence' and has also been judged the best-promoted tournament in the ATP's international series for the past four years.

1. Guillermo Canas (Argentina)

2. Paradorn Srichaphan (Thailand)

3. Sjeng Schalken (The Netherlands)        

4. Juan Ignacio Chela (Argentina)           

5. Andrei Pavel (Romania)

Guillermo Canas (Argentina)                        Seed No 1

Born

:

25 November, 1977

Place of birth

:

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Lives in

:

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Height

:

182 cm (6' 0")

Weight

:

80 kg

Plays

:

Right Handed

Turned professional in

:

1994

ATP Singles Ranking on 9/12/02

:

15

ATP Champions Race Ranking, 2002

:

15

ATP Champions Race Ranking, 2001

:

14

 

Career Record

Year 2002

Entire Career

Singles Titles

2

3

Singles Record

45-23

119-101

Doubles Titles

0

2

Doubles Record

0-4

 

Prize Money US$

1,276,617

2,480,970

At the Tata Open 2002 in January, Canas dropped only one set - during his semifinal victory over Karol Kucera. He beat Srichaphan in the finals in straight sets to win his second career ATP title. He reached the finals at Casablanca, Morocco, (where he won his first ATP title in 2001) for the second straight year, but this time lost to hometown favourite Younes El Aynaoui. Two weeks later, he reached the semi-finals in Barcelona, Spain, where he lost to another hometown favourite, Albert Costa. He had a great run at the French Open, beating Kucera and Alex Calatrava in the first two rounds, then scalping former Roland-Garros champion Carlos Moya in a hard-fought five-setter, and taking care of his old nemesis and world No.1  Lleyton Hewitt to reach the quarter finals where he ran into eventual winner Albert Costa, and lost once again after a tough five sets. But the biggest moment of his career came at the Tennis Masters Series in Toronto, where he played some unbelievable tennis, beating some of the best players in the world to lift the title while dropping only one set in the entire tournament. Canas first beat 10th seeded Roger Federer, then Srichaphan for the third time in the year, then 5th seeded Kafelnikov, then 2nd seed Marat Safln in the quarter-finals, then 3rd seed Tommy Haas in the semi-finals, and finally a red-hot Andy Roddick, to pocket the US $392,000 winner's cheque.

Nicknamed "WiIly" by his English-speaking peers, Canas began playing tennis at age seven. He enjoyed an outstanding junior career reaching the quarter-final at Wimbledon in 1995 and finishing No. 18 in singles in the final junior world rankings. He enjoys watching and playing soccer and considers Argentina's 1986 World Cup title his most thrilling sports moment. Growing up admiring countryman Guillermo Vilas he says, "I would love to be as famous as Vilas is in our country." Watching cartoons on Cartoon Network his favourite show is "The Simpsons". He considers the forehand is his best shot. In July 2001, he was one of nine guests to appear on an Argentine game show and won a car, which he gave to his mother. Has a 3-1 career Davis Cup record (2-1 in singles) in three ties. Coached by countryman Pablo Martin.

Paradorn Srichaphan (Thailand)    Seed No 2

Born

:

14 June, 1979

Place of birth

:

Bangkok, Thailand

Lives in

:

Bangkok, Thailand

Height

:

185 cm (6' 1")

Weight

:

75 kg

Plays

:

Right Handed

Turned professional in

:

1997

ATP Singles Ranking on 9/12/02

:

16

ATP Champions Race Ranking, 2002

:

18

ATP Champions Race Ranking, 2001

:

112

 

Career Record

Year 2002

Entire Career

Singles Titles

2

2

Singles Record

49-25

80-67

Doubles Titles

0

0

Doubles Record

0-4

 

Prize Money US$

651,089

1,049,417

The 23-year-old Srichaphan, beat former world number one Marcelo Rios last month in Stockholm, adding a second title to his first career win in Long Island in August. Besides the finals of the Tata Open 2002, the Thai also reached the finals in Washington (Iost to James Blake), and now has a 49-25 record in 2002 and has gone an impressive 34-11 since the start of Wimbledon. Srichaphan started the year with a bang, reaching his first-ever ATP final at the Tata Open 2002 in Chennai after beating Australian Open Champion Thomas Johansson in the quarter-finals and Andrei Pavel in the semi-finals before losing to No.1 seed Guillermo Canas in the finals.

The highlight of his tremendous year came when he won his first ATP title in Long Island, New York, beating Tommy Haas in the semi­-finals, and coming back from a set down to beat Juan lgnacio Chela in the finals. He also reached the final at Washington DC, beating Sjeng Schalken and Marcelo Rios before losing to James Blake in the finals. Recently, at the Tennis Masters Series in Madrid, he beat former World number one Gustavo 'Guga' Kuerten in the first round in straight sets and then went on to scalp World number five Tim Henman. He reached the quarter-finals, where he lost to eventual runner-up Jiri Novak. Srichaphan seems to elevate his game during big occasions, having beaten some of the biggest names in world tennis this year — former World number one Andre Agassi in straight sets at Wimbledon in the second round, former World number one Marat Safln in straight sets at Tashkent in the quarter-finals, and current World number one Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets at the Tokyo Outdoor Championships in the quarter-finals. In all, this year, Srichaphan has beaten six former or current World number ones (Agassi, Kuerten, Satin, Johansson, Rios and Hewitt). Recently, Srichaphan proved that he was indeed the Asian number one by winning the Asian Games gold medal in Busan, South Korea.

He began playing tennis at age seven with his father, Chanachai. His mother, Ubol, is a school teacher. He finished number ten in world junior rankings in 1996. A member of Thailand's Davis Cup team he has a 16-2 career record (11-2 in singles) in nine ties since 1998. At Southeast Asia Games in Brunei in 1999, came away as a triple gold medallist, winning singles, doubles (with older brother Naratom) and team categories.

He also, has an older brother Tanakom. Considers ground strokes as strength and hard courts as favourite surface. Hobbies include car racing and watching Thai kickboxing. Believes in touching the ground where he plays for good luck and says, "I pick up the grass if I have time before the match. I put it in my pocket. Got the idea from the Pope." Coached by his father, Chanachai.

Sjeng Schalken (the Netherlands)     Seed No 3

Born

:

8 September, 1976

Place of birth

:

Weert, the Netherlands

Lives in

:

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Height

:

190 cm (6' 3")

Weight

:

84 kg

Plays

:

Right Handed

Turned professional in

:

1994

ATP Singles Ranking on 9/12/02

:

20

ATP Champions Race Ranking, 2002

:

20

ATP Champions Race Ranking, 2001

:

26

 

Career Record

Year 2002

Entire Career

Singles Titles

1

7

Singles Record

37-29

223-212

Doubles Titles

0

6

Doubles Record

22-26

 

Prize Money US$

888,581

4,000,897

Schalken, who finished in the Top 20 for the first time in his career this year, finished as the No.1 Dutchman for the third straight year. After reaching the round of 32 at the French Open, he started the grass court season with a semi-final appearance at Queen's Club in London, beating Jan-Michael Gambill and Wayne Arthurs along the way, before losing to Lleyton Hewitt.

The following week, he thrilled his home crowd in Hertagenbosch, the Netherlands, by beating Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, Tommy Robredo in the semi-finals and Arnaud Clement in the finals to claim his seventh career ATP singles title. Schalken, who has a history of performing well in the Grand Slams, reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, where he lost to Hewitt in a thrilling 5-7 fifth set. At the US Open, he beat Mark Philippoussis, former World number one Gustavo Kuerten, and Fernando Gonzalez in the quarter-finals to reach the semi-finals. Later in the year, Schalken reached the finals in Moscow, beating top players like Wayne Ferreira, Nicolas Escude and Yevgeny Kafelnikov. He finished the year by reaching the round of 16 at TMS Paris.

He learned to play tennis against the wall and drove parents mad. He captured the US Open juniors (d. Mahdi Tahiri) title and reached Wimbledon junior SF in 1994. He also finished number nine in world junior rankings in 1994. He enjoys old-time cars, movies and his favourite is Dire Straits. He enjoyed reading Nelson Mandela's autobiography, A Long Walk to Freedom. He has a 11-9 career Davis Cup record (7-8 in singles) in 10 ties since 1996. His older brother, Pier, has Down's syndrome. Coached by Henk va Hulst and Ales Reynders, who travel with him.

Juan Ignacio Chela (Argentina)    Seed No 4

Born

:

30 August, 1979

Place of birth

:

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Lives in

:

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Height

:

190 cm (6' 3")

Weight

:

75 kg

Plays

:

Right Handed

Turned professional in

:

1998

ATP Singles Ranking on 9/12/02

:

23

ATP Champions Race Ranking, 2002

:

23

ATP Champions Race Ranking, 2001

:

177

 

Career Record

Year 2002

Entire Career

Singles Titles

1

2

Singles Record

46-29

70-60

Doubles Titles

0

0

Doubles Record

3-3

 

Prize Money US$

548,780

1,097,274

Juan Ignacio Chela, the young gun who jumped from 177 to number 23 in the 2002 ATP Champion's Race, joins Tata Open 2002 defending champion Guillermo Canas to form a formidable Argentine attack. An exciting player who had a career year, winning his second career title in Amersfoot, the Netherlands, with a convincing victory over French Open champion Albert Costa. Earlier in the year, he beat Costa in the first round in Sydney and ultimately reached the final. At Long Island, the week before the US Open, Chela beat Jan-Michael Gambill and Alex Corretja to advance to finals, where he lost to Paradorn Srichaphan, the runner-up at the Tata Open 2002 who will be returning to Chennai again in 2003. At the US Open, Chela defeated Tim Henman in straight sets, and, this year, has also beaten the likes of Enquist, Escude, Roddick and Philippoussis, who is also confirmed for the Tata Open 2003.

Began playing tennis at age six with his older sister, Eugenia. His father, Pedro Emir, is a factory supervisor and mother, Felisa Rodriguez, is a housewife. His best result as a junior was winning Latin American Junior Championships. His favourite surface is clay and he has a 0-2 Davis Cup record. Coached by Mariano Monachesi (since July 2001).                   

Andrei Pavel (Romania)                        Seed No 5

Born

:

27 January, 1974

Place of birth

:

Constanta, Romania

Lives in

:

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Height

:

182 cm (6' 0")

Weight

:

83 kg

Plays

:

Right handed

Turned professional in

:

1990

ATP Singles Ranking on 9/12/02

:

26

ATP Champions Race Ranking, 2002

:

23

ATP Champions Race Ranking, 2001

:

177

 

Career Record

Year 2002

Entire Career

Singles Titles

0

3

Singles Record

44-26

185-157

Doubles Titles

0

1

Doubles Record

16-16

 

Prize Money US$

646,098

2,966,321

Andrei Pavel, who was a semi-finalist at the Tata Open 2002, will be returning to Chennai for the fourth time. He was also a semi-finalist in 1997 and a quarter-finalist in 1998 in Chennai. Last year, Pavel had the highlight of his career, when he won TMS Montreal by beating Xavier Malisse, Francisco Clavet, Hicham Arazi, Andy Roddick, Tommy Haas, and finally Pat Rafter on his way to the title. This year he continued his streak of defeating top players such as former World No.1 Gustavo Kuerten, current World No. 7 Jiri Novak, French Open champion Albert Costa, and Tommy Haas twice this year.

He won the Roland Garros Juniors title (d. Navarra) and reached the semi-finals at the Wimbledon Juniors in 1992. An admirer of llie Nastase and the Romanian soccer player Hagi, Pavel moved to Germany at age 16, but competed for Romania in Davis Cup.

Has a 22-11 career record in 15 ties, 17-8 in singles. He considers his backhand as his asset. He speaks English, Romanian, German and Italian. Wife, Simone (married August 19, 1994); daughter, Caroline Elena (born July 19, 1999). Fitness trainer is Lonut Gavrila and coached by Radu Popsecu (since January 1998).

Sensation from the Past

Mark Philippoussis (Australia)                        Seed No 10

Born

:

7 November, 1976

Place of birth

:

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Lives in

:

Miami, Florida, USA

Height

:

193 cm (6' 4")

Weight

:

91 kg

Plays

:

Right handed

Turned professional in

:

1994

ATP Singles Ranking on 9/12/02

:

80

ATP Champions Race Ranking, 2002

:

72

ATP Champions Race Ranking, 2001

:

80

 

Career Record

Year 2002

Entire Career

Singles Titles

0

9

Singles Record

14-14

244-145

Doubles Titles

0

3

Doubles Record

4-3

 

Prize Money US$

215,637

5,380,987

The Australian, who has been clocked with the second fastest serve in the world at 227 km/h (141mph) in the history of professional tennis, had his career year in 2000, when he finished 11th in the ATP Champion's Race. That year, besides successfully defending his title in San Jose, he made a third straight trip to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, where he lost to Andre Agassi. At the French Open earlier, he beat Pete Sampras 8-6 in the fifth set in an epic battle at Roland Garros to advance to the fourth round. He captured his ninth ATP Title in Memphis last year, but was forced to miss a major part of the year due to injury, competing in only nine events. This year, he started off with a bang, reaching the finals at Adelaide, where he lost to Tim Henman. He beat Rusedski at Queen's Club, and the following week at Wimbledon, went on to beat Thomas Enqvist and Nicolas Kiefer, before losing to Richard Krajicek in the fourth round. In 1999, he had a dream run at the Tennis Masters Series in Indian Wells, where he defeated Corretja, Safin and Martin, before beating Carlos Moya in the fifth set to capture the crown. In 1998, he beat Tim Henman, Thomas Johansson, and Carlos Moya to proceed to his first Grand Slam final where he lost to Pat Rafter in an all-Australian final at the US Open.

He began playing tennis at age six with his father, Nick, a former soccer goalkeeper. In doubles, he and Ben Ellwood finished as No.1 junior team in the world in 1994, winning Australian, Wimbledon and Italian juniors. He played in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and reached the 3rd round in the singles event. Has a 9-5 career Davis Cup record in seven ties. Earned ATP Newcomer of the Year award in 1995 and was named the Sexiest Man Alive in 1998 issue of the in People Magazine. Enjoys basketball and is a frequent spectator at Miami Heat games. Featured in ATP's "New Balls Please" campaign. In People Magazine's “The Sexiest Man Alive 2000' issue, 80 men from around the world were listed in annual issue and among 15 Aussies in the Awesome Aussies' section, Philippoussis, Leyton Hewitt and Patrick Rafter were featured. Moved from Miami to Delray Beach, Florida. In June 2001. Coached by countryman Peter McNamara, a former two-time Wimbledon doubles champion (since October 2000)

Local Flavour

Prakash Amritraj, son of local idol Vijay Amritraj, also participates:

Prakash Amritraj (USA)            Wild Card Entry

Son of Vijay Amritraj, singles champion at the USTA  Supernational Hardcourt Championships and thus earned a wildcard entry into the US Open this year. He lost to Paradorn Srichaphan in the first round. His current ATP ranking is 712 (as of 9/12/02).

Born in 1983, Prakash Amritraj started playing tennis "at the age of two", and is coached by his father Vijay Amritraj. He failed to qualify for the main draw but had a wild card too.

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