Nadal, A-Rod to light up Thailand Open
[TENNIS] Two-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal and American heart-throb Andy Roddick will lead a galaxy of stars in the US$550,000 ATP Thailand Open in September.
The current world No 2 Nadal will make his maiden appearance in the capital for this year's edition, which will take place at Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani from September 22-30. Organisers BEC-Tero plan to spend Bt160 million to stage the event.
Joining Nadal will be former US Open champion and world No 3 Roddick, the runner-up in 2004 when injury hampered him from posing a challenge to world No 1 Roger Federer in the title match.
Also returning to Bangkok will be Scot Andy Murray, one of the few players to have defeated Federer. It will be Murray's third attempt in the event where he made his first final in 2005.
However, it is not confirmed whether the reigning champion, James Blake, will defend his crown. Blake tamed Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia in straight sets last year in the final.
Paradorn Srichaphan and Danai Udomchoke will be carrying the hopes of Thai fans in the biggest tennis competition in the region. Paradorn has made straight semi-finals over the past two years while Danai's best performance was a second round showing last year.
The Thailand Open 2007 promises a host of new activities for sports and entertainment fans. One activity that could get players off-track is the presence of Miss Thailand World contestants who will perform the duty of ball girls in some matches.
The tournament has just launched its new logo and will be running an extensive campaign leading up to the tournament including interactive roadshows, the Thailand Open junior challenge, a Tennis Hot Shots programme with the BMA and a new and exhilarating approach to the sport - Tennis in the Dark.
The tournament week will also feature some exciting new changes to increase the enjoyment of all in attendance including a Kidz Zone, additional VIP pavilion, model ball girls and a host of new entertainment options for fans.
Danai stamps his authority
nDanai Udomchoke caused a big stir in the US$100,000 MW Tennis Championships in Florida on Wednesday by crushing world No 45 Florian Mayer of Germany 6-3 6-0.
Danai, ranked 77th, is taking part in the year's toughest Challenger which attracted an incredible field that includes Dmitry Tursunov of Russia, Dominik Hrbaty of the Slovak Republic, Gael Monfils of France and ex-Roland Garros champion Gustavo Kuerten.
The main draw is almost occupied by players inside the top 100 as they are using the low-profile tournament for next week's Masters Series which will take place in the same state.
Danai upset the fourth seed to line up a second round fight with Australian Oliver Marach. But his main concern is a knee injury he picked up during the doubles match two days earlier.
"I played well against Mayer but I felt pain in my left knee. I just tried to finish points and get through the match. I hope it will be better before the next round," Danai said.
Meanwhile in Indian Wells, California, young talents Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic staked a claim on future stardom on Wednesday as both plowed ahead into the quarter-finals of the Indian Wells Masters in convincing style.
The 13th-seeded Briton Murray reached his fourth quarter from five events this season as he upended Russian fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko 7-6 (7-3) 6-4.
Serbian Djokovic advanced with a comfortable 6-3 6-1 over France's Julien Benneteau.