The first tennis tournament of 2013 is here. Along with the Qatar Open, the Aircel Chennai Tennis Open– India’s biggest tennis tournament- kickstarts the new season with a bang, right through the turn of the new year.
In the Singles Draw, with only Somdev Devvarman managing to make the next round (to face favorite Berdych), most eyes will be on Bhupathi and Bopanna and their new playing partners. Defending doubles Champion Leander Paes has already made an early exit with new French partner Roger Vasselin.
Tomas Berdych (CZE)
Fresh from a Davis Cup win, and a successful 2012 season that saw him finish in the top 8 once again, Berdych is the most high-profile player in Aircel Chennai Open 2013. Tickets will be sold, primarily due to his name, especially with defending singles Champion Milos Raonic not taking part this year. Not many will bet against the talented Czech, one of the few players to beat Roger Federer twice over 3 years in Grand Slam play. This could be his first Chennai Open title, after finishing runner up in the Mumbai Open years ago. Great Indian Hope and 2011 runner-up Somdev is next in his path.
Marin Cilic (CRO)
Another young player failing to build on his promise from earlier years, Cilic will look to win his 3rd Chennai Open title- confirming him as a fast starter to the season. 2012 was not a great year for the Croatian, falling below 20, after making his breakthrough in the 2009 Chennai Open.
Stanislaus Wawrinka (SWI)
The second best Swiss player in the world, Wawrinka has lived in the shadow of the great Roger Federer for years. One of the few graceful single-handed backhands left in the game, Wawrinka has been a consistent performer for years, even winning the 2011 Aircel Chennai Open. He will fancy his chances this year, after showing glimpses of brilliance through the hard court season last year.
Janko Tipsarevic (SER)
The 2012 runner-up, jumpy Serb no. 2 Tipsarevic ran out of steam towards the end of 2012, where he lost all 3 of his group games in the World Tour Finals. A consistent contender on all courts, Tipsarevic lacks the X-factor that is needed to win the bigger tournaments, with the Chennai Open being his best chance to get some confidence ahead of the Australian Open. For that, though, he must be able to beat atleast 2 top-10 players.
Dudi Sela (ISR)
Ranked outside the top 100, the big-hitting Israeli has been on the circuit for years, still to make a major breakthrough. He was once ranked as high as 29 in 2007, still capable of the odd upset wins in the bigger tournaments. The 2013 Aircel Chennai Open is capable of throwing up a few surprises, and Sela could be one of them.
With past winners including the likes of Moya, Ljubicic, Rafter, Canas, Malisse, Srichaphan and Malisse (with Rafa Nadal failing to win here on 3 attempts), expect the tournament to set down the marker for one of the most open years on the ATP Men’s tour.