Dallas Tennis Classic features strong field

IRVING, Tex. -- Main-draw matches in the $125,000 Dallas Tennis Classic start Tuesday at the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Las Colinas with five players ranked in the world's top 50 in town this week.

It's an uncommonly strong field for an event on the Challenger circuit, drawing an array of top-100 players because the tournanent falls between ATP Tour Masters Series stops in Indian Wells and Miami and thus attracts entrants as they make they way from the California desert to to South Florida. Top-50 players are typically not allowed to play in Challengers, but an exception is granted by the ATP Tour for this event because of where it falls on the calendar.

Former world No. 8 and 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus (currently ranked No. 35) and Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci (No. 38) are the tournament's top two seeds. Three more players ranked in the 40s are also in the field: Denis Istomin of Uzbekestan, Serbia's Viktor Troicki and Austria's Jurgen Melzer.

In notable first-round matches Tuesday, Istomin faces unseeded American Tim Smyczek, No. 5 seed Melzer plays Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic and former Baylor star Benjamin Becker of Germany takes on American wild card Robby Ginepri, who went all the way to the final of the $100,000 Challenger of Dallas last month at T Bar M Racquet Club.

A new champion is sure to be crowned in the second-year tournament after defending champ Frank Dancevic was ousted Monday in a first-round qualifying match.

As a qualifier last March, Dancevic stunningly rolled to the title despite needing to win two matches just to get into the main draw. But he was forced to qualify again this year with a world ranking of 141 and suffered a 6-3, 6-2 loss Monday to 214th-ranked Ukranian Denys Molchanov.