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Monday September 24, 2012

Another East European show on the cards

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Open ATP 250 championship has always produced an Eastern European winner since its inception in 2009 and this year could be the same with Slovakian Martin Klizan likely to keep up the trend.

The first two years of the tournament saw Russians ruling the roost with first Nikolay Davydenko then Mikhail Youzhny lifting the title.

Last year, another Eastern European, Serbian Janko Tipsarevic, beat Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus for the title.

For this year’s edition, world No. 5 David Ferrer of Spain is the top seed but the 23-year-old Klizan could upset the form book.

The left-handed Bratislava native was outside the top 100 until last September when he reached No. 86 in the rankings.

This year, Klizan made heads turn with a stunning performance in last month’s US Open where he defeated world No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round.

After that, he made a fine run to the fourth round, before losing to Croatia’s Marin Cilic.

With the Eastern Europeans finding Malaysia a favourable hunting ground, Klizan, who beat Italy’s Fabio Fognini to win the St. Petersberg Open title in Russia yesterday, could very well serve up a few stunners at the Putra Stadium.

“Klizan is a very good player who has had a fantastic year and he could be the darkhorse in the Malaysian Open,” said tournament director Nick Freyer.

But the highly-rated Slovakian will have to get past Davydenko first. A win should see him face either sixth seed Pablo Andujar of Spain or Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin with a potential quarter-final clash against third seed Kei Nishikori of Japan.

Today’s first round will see national No. 1 Ariez Elyaas take on Dutch player Igor Sijsling.

Also in action will be Taiwan wildcard Jimmy Wang, eighth seed Jurgen Melzer of Austria and comeback kid Brian Baker of USA.

Results

QUALIFYING FINALS: Dominic Inglot (Gbr) bt Austin Karosi (US) 6-2, 6-2; Julian Knowle (Aut) bt Toshihide Matsui (Jpn) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4; Michael Yani (US) bt Sanam Singh (Ind) 6-4, 7-6; Riccardo Ghedin (Ita) bt Treat Conrad Huey (Phi) 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.

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