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Spanish players favourites to hold on to Gstaad Open

Spain's Albert Costa will be aiming to defend his title at this year's Swiss Open Keystone

Mark Rosset, Roger Federer and George Bastl will lead the Swiss challenge at this year's UBS Open in Gstaad. But Spaniards are expected to dominate the event again, with three players in the top four rankings. The qualifying rounds began on Saturday.

This content was published on July 7, 2000 - 18:55

The three Swiss players have all automatically booked their berths in the first round, which gets underway on Monday, a day after the Wimbledon finale. But they'll have to wait until early Saturday evening to find out who they'll be facing.

The Swiss Open's organisers had been looking to prolong the current tennis fever. But with Cédric Pioline's (ATP 6) withdrawal through bronchitis and Marat Safin (ATP 9) pulling out with an injured elbow, it'll be the first time since 1987 without a world top ten player in the draw.

There's still likely to be plenty of action to draw in tennis fans with many big names hoping to take home the 81,000 dollar first prize.

Spanish players lead the charge. They've won the Swiss Open seven times in the last eight years and last year's winner, Albert Costa (ATP 15), is back to defend his title. He'll face stiff competition from fellow clay-court specialist, Alex Corretja (ATP 11), a winner here in 1998, and the up-and coming star, Juan Carlos Ferrero (ATP 13).

There are also plenty of big names looking to break the Spanish hold on the Open. Germany's Nicolas Kiefer (ATP 12) is seeded two for the tournament. He'll be a major threat to a Spanish win along with France's Sébastien Grosjean (ATP 28) and the Moroccans Younes El Aynaoui (ATP 16) and Hicham Arazi (ATP 38).

Argentina's Franco Squillari (ATP 19) will head the South American challenge. Squillari has already beaten Costa this year on his way to the semifinals at Roland Garros. Another clay court specialist, Chile's Marcelo Rios (ATP 25) is also in the draw.

It'll be his seventh appearance in as many years at Gstaad. Rios will be looking to get back into top form after a break through injury, which has seen him slip in the world rankings.

Last year's tournament drew a record 46,930 attendance and organisers are hoping for another feast of top-level tennis to entertain this year's crowds.

by Jonathan Summerton



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