The Indian Davis Cupper Fazaluddin Naeem Syed heads an impressive list of 10 players from abroad who will be vying for top honours in the Men's Invitation Super Singles in the 14th edition of the Marbella Open Tennis Championship.
Although India's Prahlad Srinath has pulled out citing injury, the Marbella Resort Recreation Manager Ajay Kumar stressed that the field for the Dhs 85,000 tournament was stronger than last year. "We will see some exciting close matches this time with the field wide open," Ajay said at a press conference held at the Marbella Resort yesterday.
Players from four GCC nations are in the fray with no representation from Oman and UAE. "Omar Behroozian is unavailable for this event," Ajay revealed. And, promising UAE teenager Abdulaziz Al Nuaimi has school examinations and will not be able to compete in the Super Singles.
The tournament could prove an ideal opportunity for the GCC tennis players to brush shoulders with the experienced players from India, Algeria and Tunisia. "We should more such tournaments where we can get opportunity to play against better players," felt Badr Al Mugayel of Saudi Arabia. "To play in such tournaments is vital to gain some experience before going to Future and Challenger events," the fourth seed reckons.
Top Bahraini Esam Jaafar Abdul Aal is the current GCC Champion and seeded sixth here. He has been around for a long time but has managed to stay at the top in the region. However, he feels that now young tennis players are emerging in the region to threaten the established stars. "Events like Marbella Open should be utilised by young players to enhance their talent," he said.
Fazaluddin has played in the UAE before but this will be his debut at the Marbella Resort. "I enjoy playing in the UAE and I would like to give my best," he promised. Another frequent visitor to the UAE, Algerian Hared Ouassel has an impressive record here. He has won the Aviation Cup in 1998 and has been a three time finalist. He also promised to give his best towards winning the title and added, "I enjoy playing here."
The New Zealander Andrew Batie, who won the Jebel Ali Open, beating Zeeshan Ali in the final, will be the dark horse of the tournament. Zeeshan has opted out of the tournament. However, veteran brothers Many and Eddie Gayon are the other UAE based challengers. The tournament is sponsored by, Sun and Sand Sports, Bank of Sharjah, Al Futtaim Motors, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, Kodak, Mobil, National Paints and Pocari Sweat.
The stage is set for the finale and Ajay hinted that they have plans to make their annual event even bigger next year when they host the 15th edition of the tournament.
Seeds: 1: Fazaluddin Naeem Syed (India); 2: Isam Jalili (Tunisia); 3: Hared Ouassel (Algeria); 4: Nadr Al Mugayel (Saudi Arabia).