Hard road ahead for top Thai star
[TENNIS] Some tough opponents await Thai ace Paradorn Srichaphan in the year's second ATP Master Series in Miami on Thursday.
Paradorn, whose ranking rose to No 38 in the world this week after his amazing run in last week's Pacific Life Open Master Series in Indian Wells, will play a qualifier in the first round before the going starts to get tough. Waiting for him in round two is Slovakia's Dominik Hrbaty, ranked No 18 in the world and seeded 17th in the tournament. He received a first round bye like all the other 32 seeds.
The Thai and the Slovak baseliner have a 3-3 record against each other. After going down in their first two matches, Paradorn reeled off three straight wins including a victory in the first round at Wimbledon in 2003 and a second round win in 2003 at the US Open.
The last time they met, Hrbaty outperformed the Thai in three sets 7-6 6-3 6-3 in the third round of the 2004 US Open.
Paradorn is also in the same side of the draw as three of the biggest names in tennis - Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, Marat Safin of Russia and Tim Henman of Great Britain. Either one of the three is a possible third round opponent should the Thai get past Hrbaty.
Also in the same side of the draw is former world No 1 Andy Roddick of the United States. He is seeded fourth.
Paradorn needs to maintain the level he displayed last week at Indian Wells to prove to his critics that his wins over David Nalbandian and Juan Carlos Ferrero were not flukes.
Meanwhile in Redding, California, three Thais will enter the US$25,000 Advanced Laser Clinics USTA Challenger of Redding tournament which starts today. Second-seeded Tamarine Tanasugarn will play Marina Barnikow, Thai No 2 Suchanan Viratprasert will take on Serbia and Montenegro's Teodora Miric and qualifier Monthinee Tangphong will face American wild card Lauren Barnikow.