Top 3 Seeds: 2014 Aircel Chennai Open

South Asia’s premier ATP hardcourt tournament is back. Arguably the first competition of the new year ATP calendar, the Chennai Open is in its 19th edition- a considerable achievement by any standard, being the only ATP500 level tournament in India. 

The 2014 Aircel Chennai Open will run from 30th December 2013 to 5th January 2014. The players will welcome the New Year in India, not for the first time, as they battle to earn the first points of the new season. The qualifying competition will take place on the 28th and 29th of December- and for the first time, the cutoff for the Chennai Open is as low as 89. Not too long ago, legends like Nadal, Moya and Rafter were the prime names doing battle at this very venue. Many still remember the 2008 tournament in which Nadal defeated his idol Moya over 3.5 gruelling hours in a pulsating semi-final, only to be slaughtered by Russian Youhzny in the lopsided final. It was then Cilic who won at Chennai, back to back titles too, before Wawrinka, Raonic and finally the journeyman tireless Serb Tipsarevic- who will be defending Champion at the 2014 edition. 
 
Here is a short profile on the top 3 seeds of the 2014 edition:
 
 
 
The Swiss no. 2 enjoyed his best professional season ever in 2013. Wawrinka was the name on everybody’s lips, as soon as he took no. 1 Djokovic to 5 gruelling sets in the Australian Open in January. Many argue that this match was the turning point for a career that seemed destined to be sandwiched in the ‘best of the rest’ category, but the real change came during a little-known Davis Cup doubles match only days later in the first round. He combined with fellow Swiss man Chiudenelli against eventual Champions Czech Republic (Rosol and Berdych) to play the longest EVER doubles match in the history of men’s tennis. The match lasted for more than 7 hours with the 5th set 22-24 to the Czechs. Wawrinka could have been deflated after this, but carried on in his Singles career to win only his 4th ATP title at Portugal that month- his first after Jan 2011. He went on to reach the Madrid Masters final- after defeating Tsonga and Berdych in successive days, losing to Nadal in the final. He was back at no. 10 by now, going on to reach the French Open quarter finals for the first time. The best backhand in men’s tennis (according to McEnroe) suffered a setback after losing to Hewitt in the first round of Wimbledon 2013. Wawrinka rescued his sinking season soon after, by reaching the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time by defeating Berdych and defending champion Murray in the 4th round and quarter finals respectively. He lost to Djokovic in the semis after holding the lead in the 5th set twice. His big match nerves acted up again, and he remained the ‘almost’ man on the ATP tour, despite possessing one of the best offensive baseline styles in tennis. For the first time, he reached no. 8 in his career, even reaching the semi finals of the prestigious World Tour Finals at London, again losing to Djokovic. 
 
Wawrinka will want to recapture a title that he had won three years ago at Chennai. As of now, he remains the overwhelming favourite. 
 
Mikhail Youzhny (Rank 15)
 
 
The 31 year old Russian no. 1 is enjoying a second wind of a highly successful career. His best years were between 2006 and 2010- where he reached a career high of no. 8 after defeating the likes of Nadal in the latter stages of Slams. He has won 10 ATP tournaments, and is also a single-handed backhand- after reaching 21 tour level finals. He is best remembered in India for his Nadal mauling in the 2008 final, where he handed the world no. 2 one of his worst defeats ever by letting him win only 1 game in the final. The Russian is one of the few players to reach the quarter finals of ALL the 4 Slams. 
 
Youzhny enjoyed a decent 2013 season where he reached the 4th round in the French Open and Wimbledon after starting his season indifferently. He lost to Federer in the Halle final- the Swiss legend’s only tournament win in 2013. Later, he defeated Robin Hasse to win the Swiss Open- one of the rare over-30 winners on the ATP tour. 
 
Fabio Fognini (Rank 16)
 
 
The Italian no. 1 heads into 2014 with his highest career ranking after a stellar 2013. He is a claycourt specialist- with his only two ATP titles coming on this surface. He reached the semi finals of the Monte Carlo Masters after defeating two back to back top 10 players in Berdych and Gasquet. He is known more for his doubles conquests- he partnered Bolelli to reach the semis of the Australian Open in 2013, losing to the Bryans. Fognini enjoyed the greatest streak of his career after winning the 2013 Mercedes Cup and the German Open back to back, after defeating the likes of Tommy Haas and Kohlschreiber, going on a 13 match winning streak. He reached his 3rd consecutive final in 3 weeks at Umag, beating Monfils on the way, losing to Robredo in the final. By now, Fognini had reached a career high of no. 16. He enjoyed a great Asian hardcourt season too, defeating Hewitt and Robredo to reach the quarters at Beijing. He dominated Nadal for the first 11 games (6-2, 3-0) before choking and losing the match eventually. He went on to reach the quarters at Vienna and Valencia, and will start as one of the favourites at Chennai in 2014. 
 
(Tickets are available on our website starting today)
 

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