Seed 4. Benoit Paire (Rank 26)
In the 2012 Chennai Open, Paire made headlines by defeating experienced campaigner and no. 3 seed here Fabio Fognini for the loss of just 1 game. He went on to lose in the next round, but had sent enough ripples through the draw. In 2013, he went one better and reached the semis of this tournament. But the French player was only getting warmed up. Later in the year, he went on to record his first top 10 win of his career by beating Del Potro in the Rome Masters. He lost to Federer in the quarters after two tight sets, later reaching a career ranking high of 24 in August. The Frenchman is yet to win an ATP level tournament, losing 2 finals so far. This could just be his time.
Seed 5. Vasek Pospisil (Rank 32)
Pospisil too had a breakthrough 2013 season. The Canadian no. 2 (after Milos Raonic) and an important consistent member of their Davis Cup team missed the early part of 2013 due to mononucleosis (the same illness that laid Federer low in 2010). It was in the Rogers Cup later in 2013 during the North American hardcourt swing that Pospisil came into his own. He enjoyed a dream run, defeating Isner in the first round and Stephanek in the next. He went on to record the first top-10 win of his career by beating Berdych in the 3rd round. Davydenko retired in the quarters, giving Pospisil his first ever Masters semi appearance. Prior to this, he had only ever once reached a ATP500 semi final earlier in the year at Bogota. Finally, it was Raonic who stopped his dream run in the semis in 3 tight sets. Pospisil could throw up a few surprises here in 2014, and remains a dark horse.
Seed 6. Janko Tipsarevic (Rank 36)
The defending Champion enters Chennai at a relatively lower ranking, thanks to an injury-hit 2013 season that had begun on a promising note. He won at Chennai, following it up with a career best 4th round appearance at the Australian Open and a 3rd round loss at the French Open. Tipsarevic defeated surprise finalist Bautista-Agut (the giant killer) at last year’s Chennai Final. The Serb is more commonly a Davis Cup hero for his country, partnering Djokovic and others to win the 2013 Davis Cup after coming from behind in the semi final against Canada. He has played every single Davis Cup tournament since 2000. The 29 year old Serb has a long way to go to get back his top 10 ranking he had achieved at the end of 2011 and 2012, after even playing the 2012 World Tour Finals in London.
Seed 7. Marcel Granollers Seed (Rank 38)
Granollers is better known for his doubles talent, but he also had his moments in the Singles arena in 2013. I remember watching a singles match live in Rome 2013, where Granollers took on favourite Andy Murray in the second round on clay. He recorded a win, thanks to a Murray pull-out after winning the first set. He has partnered fellow countryman Marc Lopez to record some impressive doubles wins over his career- including the Rome and World Tour Finals 2012 titles.
Seed 8. Edouard Roger-Vasselin (Rank 53)
He won his last Singles title in 2011. Indian fans will remember the 30 year old French player as Bopanna’s partner when they steamed through to the 2013 Wimbledon semi-finals. He also reached his first ATP final earlier in 2013 at the DelRay Beach Championships, eventually losing the title to Gulbis. He went on to win the Tokyo Open in October with Bopanna.