Rising stars Vasek Pospisil of Canada and Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic began the new tennis season with first-round victories in the ATP Chennai Open on Monday.
Fifth-seeded Pospisil, who jumped from No. 140 to 32 in the rankings by the end of last year’s season, brushed past British wild-card Kyle Edmund 6-3, 7-5 at the Nungambakkam Tennis Stadium.
“Its nice to start the season with a win, but I have a long way to go,” said the 23-year-old, who is Canada’s No. 2 player behind the big-serving Milos Raonic.
Pospisil’s next opponent will be Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun, who ruined American Tim Smyczek’s 26th birthday with a 6-4, 6-2 victory on an outside court.
Vesely, who at 20 is the youngest player in the world’s top 100, survived a scare from Indian wild-card Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan before advancing to the next round.
Vesely, ranked 84, bounced back after trailing 1-4 in the first set to beat the Indian 7-5, 6-2 on the center court.
“I did not have a good start, but the important thing is that I won,” said the Czech, who was the number one junior player in 2011.
Swiss world No. 8 Stanislas Wawrinka leads the field in the US$450,000 tournament, South Asia’s only ATP event that serves as a warm-up for the Australian Open in mid-January.
Wawrinka, who won the Chennai title in 2011, will have world No. 15 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, No. 16 Fabio Fognini of Italy and the 26th-ranked Benoit Paire of France as his strongest challengers.
Also in the fray are the Spanish duo of Marcel Granollers and Roberto Bautista-Agut, and Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
Defending champion Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia withdrew from a seventh appearance in Chennai after failing to recover from a heel injury that troubled him all through the year, while Dudi Sela of Israel beat Slovak Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-2 to set up a clash against Youzhny.