MOSCOW, October 13 (RIA Novosti)
President Vladimir Putin wished success Saturday to Russia's participants in the forthcoming Kremlin Cup.
The joint WTA and ATP event starts Monday in the Russian capital, and has attracted more stars of the women's game than that of the men's.
A total of eleven Russians are in the main draw, with 16th-ranked Maria Kirilenko leading the charge in the women's draw as fifth seed, and three-time champion Nikolay Davydenko leading five men. They could be joined by other qualifiers this weekend.
"These championships will again see the meeting of world-class professionals who have demonstrated fantastic preparation and skill, with some talented debutants," Putin was quoted as saying on the Kremlin website.
This season Russian players, he said, "have already brought us joy: the silver of Maria Sharapova and the bronze of Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova were worthy contributions to the Russian haul at the Olympics in London."
"I hope that the native walls and the support of the fans will help the Russians succeed in Moscow," Putin said.
The top four seeds for the WTA event are Sam Stosur, Marion Bartoli, Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic. On the men's side, they are Alexander Dolgopolov, Andreas Seppi, Viktor Troicki and Thomaz Bellucci.
All eight have byes into the second round.
Sports-mad Putin is a judo black belt and earlier this week was honored by the International Judo Federation with the rank of eighth Dan.
He is also a keen swimmer and ice hockey player, but has never been known to be particularly fond of tennis.
His predecessor Boris Yeltsin popularized the sport in Russia.
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