CHENNAI, Dec 29: Spanish world number two Rafael Nadal will start his 2008 season against Frenchman Mathieu Montcourt in the first round of the Chennai Open ATP event starting on Monday.

Saturday’s draw pitted Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, the second seed, against Dutchman Robin Haase while defending champion Xavier Malisse of Belgium will play Giles Muller of Luxembourg.

Malisse, 27, who toppled French Open champion Nadal in the semis last year and also went on to beat the Spaniard in the doubles final, is unseeded after slumping to 112th in the rankings due to a wrist injury suffered in February.

Spain’s former world number one Carlos Moya, twice a winner in Chennai, is seeded third and Russian number two Mikhail Youzhny fourth.

Baghdatis, the current world number 16, said he was looking forward to a new start.

“This is the first tournament for the new year so it will be tough until I find my rhythm, but I’m ready,” he told reporters. “This year I want to get into the top 10 and stay there,” he added. —Reuters

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