Gstaad (Switzerland) (AFP) - Viktor Troicki will make his return to tennis when his controversial one-year doping ban ends on Monday, with the Serb playing on a late wild card entry at the Swiss Open in Gstaad.
Troicki was awarded his wild card only hours before the weekend draw, with the 28-year-old set to put his career back on track as he starts in the first round against Austrian eighth seed Dominic Thiem.
Troicki drew his ban for delaying a mandatory blood test at Monte Carlo in April, 2013 by a day, saying he felt ill.
Despite having blood drawn a day later, he was banned for a year.
After reaching a career high of 12 in the world and helping Serbia win the Davis Cup in 2010, the 28-year-old Troicki is now ranked at 842 in the world.
"Honestly, it's been a tough year," Troicki, whose original 18-month ban was cut to 12 on appeal, told CNN.
"Mentally it was tough to handle everything but as time went on, I started preparing and practicing, and I was focused on my comeback and new start -- and looking forward to it."
Troicki also praised the support of teammate and world number one Novak Djokovic with whom he practiced while he waited out his ban.
"Novak helped me a lot when he had weeks of preparation, he always invited me," he said Troicki. "He really did a lot for me and I will never forget that."
The claycourt event at Gstaad is headed by Russian title-holder Mikhail Youzhny, the top seed, who cannot seem to get enough of the lush alpine village venue.
Youzhny will be competing for the eighth year in a row and ninth overall in Gstaad as he returns following his title win in 2013 against Dutchman Robin Haase.
Spaniard Marcel Granollers, the 2011 champion, takes the second seeding, with the top four seeds all given byes into the second round of the event held at 800 metres above sea level.
Former semi-finalist Guilermo Garcia-Lopez is seeded third ahead of fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, who first played the event nine years ago but is returning for the first time in four editions.
Argentine Federico Delbonis is seeded fifth, starting in the first round against dreadlocked German Dustin Brown. Frenchman Gilles Simon takes the sixth seeding, facing an opening test against Spaniard Pablo Andujar.
Seventh seed Haase faces Aleksandr Nedovyesov.
The tournament was hit by the defection of draw card and world number four Stan Wawrinka, who was signed to a multi-year appearance contract as was Roger Federer a decade ago.
The Australian Open winner announced several weeks ago that he would not be able to play and would instead try to regroup in the post-Wimbledon period for the upcoming North American hard court season.