BANGKOK (AFP) - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bids to repeat his title triumph here in the injury absence of Rafael Nadal when the Thailand Open starts Monday. Tsonga, the world number seven who beat Novak Djokovic for the trophy a year ago at the Impact arena, is looking for the fifth title of his career and third in 2009 after winning in Johannesburg and Marseille in February. The Bangkok event begins three weeks for the ATP in Asia, with a new event in Kuala Lumpur also being held this week prior to dates in Tokyo and Beijing followed by the Shanghai Masters from October 12. Nadal, who was to have played the Asian event for the first time, was forced to withdraw last week to let the abdominal injury which has troubled him for more than a month properly heal. Tsonga, the 2008 Australian Open finalist, leads two other French seeds, with Gilles Simon on second and soon-to-retire veteran Fabrice Santoro taking number seven. Santoro is visiting Bangkok for the third time as he prepares to quit the game at age 36 in November. Santoro, 0-2 here, begins his final Asian campaign in the first round against Russian Evgeny Korolev. Also in the field is another player soon to quit. Marat Safin has been making his farewell tour since the start of the year as he prepares to retire in weeks. The appearance will be the fourth in the capital for the two-time Grand Slam winner, who reached Bangkok semi-finals in 2004 and 2006, losing to Americans Andy Roddick and James Blake respectively. Safin faces a challenge from the first round when he plays fifth seed Philipp Petzschner, a repeat of the 2008 first round here won by the 35th-ranked German. Young guns Sam Querrey, seeded third, and number eight John Isner represent the new US generation, with Isner playing in Asia for the first time. Querrey came to Bangkok two years ago but lost in the first round to a qualifier. Isner makes his start against Thai wild card Kittipong Wachiramanowong, ranked outside the Top 500. Tsonga, Simon, Querrey and number four Serb Viktor Troicki all receive first-round byes. Seeds: Jo-Wilfied Tsonga (FRA x1) Gilles Simon (FRA x2) Sam Querrey (USA x3) Viktor Troicki (SRB x4) Philipp Petzschner (GER x5) Jurgen Melzer (AUT x6) Fabrice Santoro (FRA x7) John Isner (USA x8)