Ferrer headlines Malaysian Open as Monaco drops out
David Ferrer of Spain misses a shot against Richard Gasquet of France during their 2013 US Open men's singles quarterfinal match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center September 4, 2013 in New York. Ferrer returns to Kuala Lumpur to headline the Malaysian Open, aiming to return to winning ways after defending champion Juan Monaco withdrew with a wrist injury.
Last year's leading ATP winner with seven titles, the Spaniard has only claimed two crowns this year, in Argentina in January and New Zealand a month later.
Despite his lack of success in 2013, Ferrer has performed well at times this year, especially in the Grand Slams, where he reached the French Open final, Australian Open semi-finals and quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open.
He was to be joined at the start of the main draw on Monday by Monaco but the Argentinian withdrew late Saturday.
The world number 30 last played in a Davis Cup semi-final defeat against Czech Republic last week.
But the ATP 250 event is not about to lose its glitter with Ferrer and Swiss world number 10 Stanilas Wawrinka spearheading the tournament.
Ferrer has been given a clear path to the quarter-final with a bye in the opening round and will only start his campaign against a qualifier.
He is poised to face either 2009 champion Nikolay Davydenko or American Ryan Harrison in the last-eight and, barring any upset, a date with fourth seed Juergen Melzer in the semis.
Marcos Baghdatis, who has been ranked as high as number eight in the world and been a finallist at the Australian Open, also returns to Malaysia.
The Cypriot is a crowd favourite in the Malaysian capital and returns after getting married and becoming a father last year.
Now ranked 48th, Baghdatis will be a direct entry in the $984,300 tournament, which starts Saturday with the qualifying rounds.
The ATP 250 World Tour tournament, however, will miss world number 24 Marin Cilic of Croatia, who this week was handed a nine-month doping ban by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
The 24-year-old had the ban back-dated to May 1 this year, meaning he will be able to return to action on February 1, 2014.
Cilic tested positive for the stimulant nikethamide at the Munich Open in May.