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TFC hands wild card to Thai star Danai Udomchoke

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Thai tennis legend Danai Udomchoke has been granted a wild card entry into the two back-to-back Futures events to be played in Phnom Penh from next week. Photo Supplied

The Tennis Federation of Cambodia has granted a wild card to one of Thailand’s best known pros, Danai Udomchoke, for the two back-to-back ITF Men’s US$15,000 Futures events coming up at the National Training Centre from January 24.

The right-handed 29-year-old, regarded as the second biggest name in Thai tennis after Paradorn Srichaphan, was at his raging best in 2007 when he reached his career-high world ranking of 77 and made it to the third round of the Australian Open, but in the intervening years had drifted back to as low as his current 458 following injury problems and loss of form.

A request for a wild card came from the former 2006 Asian Games and 2007 World University Games gold medalist through an email to TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivit a few days ago.

“The decision was not so difficult,” said Tep Rithivit. “We are honoured to have a player of his class and we decided almost instantly to grant him his wish. He has confirmed that he would reach Phnom Penh on January 23.”

Three wild cards for each Futures event are given to the host Federation, while a fourth is at the disposal of the world governing body ITF.

The TFC is roping in national players Bun Kenny and Tan Nysan as wild cards. “The third wild card has rightfully gone to a deserving name like Udomchoke. We are happy and excited to accommodate him here,” the Secretary General said.

Danai Udomchoke, picked up his first Futures title in his homeland in 1998, just a year after turning pro. He has also claimed eight Challengers titles – one step up from Futures tournaments – over the last seven years, with his latest coming in May, 2009, in Busan, South Korea.

The Bangkok native, who idolised Pete Sampras in his formative years, has a 61-43 career record with a total prize money close to one million dollars. A hard court specialist, whose forte is forehand ground strokes, Udomchoke has a 26-12 Davis Cup singles record over 25 contests.

“His current ATP Champions race position of 139 is a sign that he is fighting his way to back to the form the world has known him for,” Tep Rithivit added.

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