BANGKOK (AFP) –
Top seed Janko Tipsarevic is hoping to make a winning return to “easy-going” Asia as the Thailand Open begins Monday and the ATP shifts east for the remaining weeks of the season.
The world number nine claimed last year’s Malaysian Open title in Kuala Lumpur, an indoor event played the same week as Bangkok.
But this time around the tattooed and bespectacled Serb, who says playing in Asia is welcome respite after a packed tennis calendar, will put his game to the test in the bustling Thai capital.
“I won my first ATP tournament in Asia. It’s one of my favourite swings, definitely this year because the season was so chaotic,” said Tipsarevic, whose last title came on clay in Stuttgart in July.
“We played so many tournaments including the Olympics. Coming to Asia, in a big way, calms me down. People are so relaxed and easy-going in Asian countries. I just love to be here.”
Tipsarevic heads the Bangkok field at the Impact arena ahead of Frenchman Richard Gasquet and third seed Milos Raonic, who arrives having helped Canada stay in the Davis Cup World Group with a win last weekend over South Africa. Frenchman Gilles Simon takes the fourth seeding ahead of Spain’s Fernando Verdasco. Serb Viktor Troicki is sixth ahead of Finn Jarkko Nieminen and Australian eighth seed Bernard Tomic.
Completing the big names is flamboyant French shot-maker Gael Monfils who will continue his comeback after nearly four months sidelined with a knee injury.
The event, being staged for the tenth year, was last year won by newly-crowned US Open champion Andy Murray.
The leading four seeds have first-round byes, with Tipsarevic to play either a qualifier or Dutchman Robin Haase in the second round.
Thai Danai Udomchoke received a wildcard to shoulder the hopes of local fans following the retirement several seasons ago of Paradorn Srichaphan, who put the event on the world map in its early stages.