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Finally, an ATP event in Manila

Local players get the chance to play against some of world’s rising stars and tour veterans when the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Challenger is held from Jan. 18 to 24 at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.

The $75,000 event is the biggest in the country’s tennis history that’s why current stars are reveling for the once in a lifetime opportunity although one would not see the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Roger Federer in the tournament.

The biggest name so far is former world No. 8 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia.

Also confirming their participation in the event are Belgian Kimmer Coppejans, a junior champion at the 2012 French Open who is now ranked No. 130 in the world, doubles specialist Somdev Devvarman of India, who is at No. 177, and world No. 113 Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia.

Japanese Davis Cuppers Go Soeda, Tatsuma Ito and Yuichi Sugita – who beat their Filipino counterparts in the Asia Oceania Zone Group I tie in 2011 – also signed up for the weeklong event.

“This is next-level tournament and the players coming over are regular campaigners in the ATP tour,” said Philta vice president Randy Villanueva.

Philippines’ top junior player AJ Lim, former top junior netter Jeson Patrombon and 2009 Australian Open junior doubles champion Francis Casey Alcantara received wild card seats to the main draw round.

Davis Cuppers Ruben Gonzales and PJ Tierro, as well as Fil-American Mico Santiago gained wild card tickets to the qualifying round which starts tomorrow.