31 January 2016 | David Packman

Jordan Thompson will enter the Neville-Smith Forest Products Launceston International – beginning on Monday – as the highest ranked player in the draw.

“I’m looking forward to playing here,” Thompson, a semifinalist in 2015, said. “Another chance to win my first Challenger, that’d be nice.”

After a strong finish to last season, Thompson is currently ranked a career best world No.143. The 21-year-old from Sydney recently reached the semifinal stage in Noumea arrives at the ATP Challenger event in Launceston with solid momentum behind him.

Seeded second at the event – after top seed James Duckworth withdrew on Sunday morning having also stepped down from his semifinal in Maui – Thompson will face another in-form Australian, Matthew Barton, in the opening round.

“That’s a pretty tough first meeting,” Thompson said. “He’s in some good form.”

Barton qualified for the ATP250 in Auckland earlier this year, where he defeated American Steve Johnson in the first round and eventually bowed out to David Ferrer.

The winner will potentially face Omar Jasika, who reached the second round of the Australian Open before being defeated by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The only other Australian to be seeded in the Launceston draw is Luke Saville. The No.7 seed faces local wildcard Harry Bourchier with the winner to face either recent Australian Open junior quarterfinalist Max Purcell or Happy Valley Challenger semifinalist Andrew Whittington.

With Duckworth’s withdrawal, ninth-seeded Frenchman Stephane Robert takes his line in the draw allowing Sydney’s Jarryd Chaplin to advance through to the main draw as a lucky loser.

In other key first-round matches, teenage qualifier Marc Polmans finds himself up against Indian third seed Saketh Myneni, while Queensland’s Ben Mitchell faces fifth seed Matteo Donati of Italy.

Live scoring continues to be available through www.atpchallengertour.com.