Danai runs roughshod over lowly Schneider
[TENNIS] Danai Udomchoke stormed into the final of the qualifying competition of the US$3.28 Million Pacific Life Open after vanquishing American Jonathan Schneider 6-1 6-2 in Indian Wells on Wednesday night.
Seeded second in the qualifiers of the year's first Masters Series event, Danai was barely challenged by the lowly-ranked wildcard opponent and finished his first round assignment in less than an hour.
"I was lucky to win this match because I didn't play well and nor did Schneider,'' said Danai currently ranked 77 in the world. "I think he is at another level. I checked information about him and found that he has only one ATP point, although he has been playing for four years."
As he had no background knowledge of his opponent, Danai googled to find out about the unknown American and admitted that he felt a load of pressure off his head when he knew that Scheider had never won an ATP match.
"Normally I don't check information about whom I play against but I knew nothing about this guy. So I just wanted to know if he had ever beaten any good players. I was totally relaxed after I got the info and the result was that I didn't play well today,'' said Danai, who next plays dangerous Chilean Paul Capdeville, who upset 18th seed Ilia Bozoljac of Serbia and Montenegro 6-3 6-4.
Danai needs to clear that hurdle to appear in a Masters Series main draw for the first time in his career. He is well aware that the match against Capdeville will not be a piece of cake. "I think he is the toughest guy who is not seeded in the draw. He has good ground-strokes and mixes the pace all the time,'' said Danai.
"His forehand shots sometimes are his Achilles heel. I will go for his forehand and If I can maintain my level of game, I can beat him," he said.
Meanwhile, Russia's Maria Sharapova will be battling to retain her world No 1 ranking as well as her title in the women's draw that started yesterday.
While top-seeded Sharapova enjoyed a first-round bye, Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands booked a shot at the Russian glamour-girl with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson.
When she does launch her defence later this week, Sharapova will be playing for the first time since February 3, when she strained her hamstring in the semi-finals of the Toray Pan Pacific Open.
She must reach the semi-finals here to maintain her world No 1 ranking over Belgian Justine Henin, one of several notable absentees.
Among other players jockeying for position in the first round, Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki booked a clash with third-seeded Martina Hingis of Switzerland.
Wozniacki defeated Slovakia's Jarmila Gajdosova 6-3 6-1 to set up the meeting with Hingis, the former world No 1 who won this title in 1998.
But seventh-seeded Czech Nicole Vaidisova said the field still offered a challenge.
"Sure the Belgians didn't show up but then you still have Maria [Sharapova] and Svetlana [Kuznetsova]," the 17-year-old said. "The field is tough. But I am very positive going into this event."