The qualifying rounds of the 2015 Aircel Chennai Open have begun as you read this. In a few days, 32 Men’s Singles players will battle it out for the ATP250 crown. The defending champion is also the defending Australian Open Champion Stanislas Wawrinka, who defeated Roger-Vasselin in last year’s final.
Here is a bit about the top players at this year’s tournament:
Stanislas Wawrinka (SWI)
World no. 3, and the man to beat. He had his most successful year in 2014, winning at Melbourne and Monte Carlo, before making the semis of the season-ending World Tour Finals and winning the Davis Cup for the first time. He defeated Nadal in a massive upset at the 2014 Aussie Open, and will look to begin 2015 in the same fashion. He is a two-time Chennai Champion, and will be the crowd-favorite in his 7th consecutive year.
Feliciano Lopez (SPA)
Famously dubbed ‘Deliciano Lopez’ by Andy Murray’s mother, the dishy Spaniard has struggled all career in the shadows of more illustrious countrymen like Nadal, Ferrer and Moya. But 2014, his 33rd year of existence, became his most successful year. He is now the World no. 14, a career high, after enjoying a season in which he defeated the likes of Berdych, Nadal, Gasquet, Isner, Raonic to win one title (AEGON) and reached two Masters semi-finals. This will be his first Chennai Open.
Roberto Bautista Agut (SPA)
A 2013 Chennai finalist, Agut’s best year was again 2014, when he finished the year as the World no. 15. He pulled off one of the upsets of the year when he defeated Del Potro at the Aussie Open, followed by a win over upcoming Frenchman Paire. He reached the Madrid semis, before losing in two tight sets to Nadal. He won two ATP250 titles in 2014, and won the ATP’s Most Improved Player of the Year award. He will combine with Olympic gold medalist Wawrinka to play Doubles in the tournament too.
Prediction: Group exit
David Goffin (BEL)
The 24-year old was early to make a breakthrough in 2012, when he was hailed as the next big thing. He advanced as a Lucky Loser in the French Open to the main draw, reached the 4th round and lost to Roger Federer. Last year, he finally won his first few tournaments (Austria, France) and lost in the Basel Indoor final to Federer. He is now ranked No. 24, his highest, and will look to build upon his good form.
Prediction: Dark Horse
Borna Coric (CRO)
The 18-year old is the youngest in the top 100, and is already a star on the rise after his win over Nadal at Basel. He incidentally lost to Goffin after that. He has been rightly awarded the Star Of Tomorrow by the ATP, and is probably the most exciting name at this year’s Chennai Open. Who knows, he could be the game’s future.
Somdev Devvarman (IND)
The 2009 Chennai finalist is perhaps India’s best Singles player in a while, and he was once in the top 65 in the world. He is now at 124, but will continue to be India’s best hope at this tournament after a lukewarm couple of years. He is a Commonwealth (2010) gold medalist.
Prediction: Group exit
Alejandro Falla (COL)
Falla is an explosive Columbian left-handed player, who is yet to win a Singles ATP title. His greatest achievement was in Wimbledon 2010, where he was 3 points away from defeating Roger Federer in the first round before losing in 5 sets. He has also beaten players like Davydenko, Del Potro and Gimelstob over the years. He reached the 2014 Gerry Weber final, again losing to Federer.