Tipsarevic & Almagro play first singles matches in 2012

Chennai: The four remaining second round matches of the Aircel Chennai Open take to the courts on Thursday, with the Top 2 seeds playing on Centre Court - along with a few intriguing quarter-final doubles matches.

The first match is No. 2 seed Nicolas Almagro against Belgium’s Steve Darcis. Almagro had his first Top 10 season in 2011, finishing the year at No. 10. Although the last few months weren’t his best (he lost seven of his last nine matches of the year), he picked up three ATP World Tour titles (Costa do Sauipe, Buenos Aires, Nice) and made another two finals (Acapulco, Hamburg). He will try to find that form again today as he plays his first match of the year against Darcis. It will be an uphill battle for Darcis - the World No. 88 is 0-2 against Almagro and 0-9 against Top 10 players.

Next up is No. 1 seed Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia against Indian wild card Yuki Bhambri. Like Almagro, Tipsarevic had his first Top 10 season in 2011 - in fact, he had never even been ranked in the Top 20 until the summer, but a fantastic second half of the year - highlighted by his first two ATP World Tour titles at Kuala Lumpur and Moscow - propelled him to the year-end No. 9 ranking. He has done very well in Chennai in the past, reaching the semi-finals the last two years, but this time comes to Chennai as a Top 10 player for the first time (he was never even in the Top 30 here before). Bhambri is a 19-year-old Indian rising star playing a Top 10 player for the first time.

For the second day in a row the Centre Court ticket includes some legendary doubles action. After the singles matches, No. 1 seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna face Andreas Beck and Stanislas Wawrinka in a quarter-final match (Bhupathi, a former doubles World No. 1, is playing with Bopanna for the first time this week, their first round win being the first match of their new partnership). The second doubles match pits No. 3 seeds Leander Paes and Tipsarevic against Fabio Fognini and Igor Zelenay (Paes is also a former doubles World No. 1).

Bhupathi and Paes have won this tournament five times playing together (1997, 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2011) but neither has ever won it with another partner.