Chinese Taipei's brightest young star Yeu Tzuoo Wang and Korea's warhorse Mi-Ra Jeon are top seeds in the men's and women's singles respectively at the $ 100,000 Asian Championships 2004 that begins on Tuesday, at the Tashkent Tennis Centre.
The men's qualifying rounds ended Monday, with six players moving into the main draw.
The men's and women's singles winners will take home US $7200 each and a wild card for the 2005 Australian Open. For every player at the tournament that's a double whammy like no other in Asian tennis. Doubles winners pick up USD 3,100.
Men's top seeded Wang has climbed to 168 on the ATP rankings this year. This 19-year-old belongs to an elite group of Asian talent willing themselves to break through the top 100 ranking barrier.
Thai superhero Paradorn Srichapan has done it and shown the way for a whole new world of Asians who need an icon to test the realm of possibilities.
In the men's section, Pakistan's Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi (ATP 205) is seeded second. He is drawn to meet eighth seeded Alexey Kedirouk of Kazakhstan in the quarters. Seeded third is India's Sunil Kumar Sipaeya, who's slated to run into Uzbek's best known player, Vadim Kutsenko, in the round of eight. Chinese Taipei's Ti Chen weighs in at number six, and China's Peng Sun is seeded seven.
Women's top seed Mi-Ra Jeon, 26, is drawn to play India's hard-hitting star Sania Mirza in the quarter-finals. This match promises to be a delight if both play to potential. Jeon's highest career ranking was 123 a few months ago.
A cab driver's daughter, Jeon took to tennis at an early age.
"I was fascinated by the tennis ball, that's how I began playing," she says. And, the ranking she has achieved is no mean feat for an Asian.
Sania Mirza is the seventh seed and comes into the tournament in match-winning form. Mirza crowned herself Wimbledon junior doubles champ in 2003 and then trained under Boris Becker's coach Bob Brett in Italy.
China's Na Li, with a WTA ranking of 192, is seeded second in the women's singles. Other seeds are Chinese Taipei's Chia-Jung Chuang (255), Japan's Ryoko Fuda (287), Korea's Jin Hee Kim (291), Chinese Taipei's Chin Wei Chan (306), and Thailand's Napaporn Tongsalee (337).
In doubles, Alexey Kedriouk of Kazakhstan and Vadim Kutsenko of Uzbekistan have been top seeded in the men's while India's Vishal Uppal and Sunil Kumar Sipaeya are seeded second.
In women's doubles, Chia Jung Chuang and Su Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei are top seeds. Here too, an Indian pair is seeded second - Rushmi Chakravarti and Sania Mirza.