Berdych heads field in Chennai Open
Sixth-ranked Czech player Tomas Berdych heads an impressive field of four top-20 players in the Chennai Open which starts on Monday.
World No 9 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia and former champions Marin Cilic of Croatia (15) and Stanislas Wawrinka (17) of Switzerland are the other big names in the field.
Also among the field is Frenchman Benoit Paire, who showed good form in 2012 and has risen to 47 in the ATP rankings, along with Dutchman Robin Haase, Taiwan's Yen-Hsun Lu, and Japan's Go Soeda.
Berdych, who defeated Roger Federer in the quarterfinals of this year's US Open, is returning to Chennai after missing the previous year.
Bercych lost to Wawrinka in the semifinals of the 2011 edition but is among the favourites, especially because of his liking for hard courts. Among his biggest threats would be Tipsarevic, who lost a marathon final to Milos Raonic last year and will be looking to go one better.
"It's a great event," Tipsarevic said. "You've been seeing a lot of me in the last few years, and every year I am playing better and better as you can see and I really want to win the whole thing this year.
"The Indian crowd is great. And the fact that we play our matches in the evening makes the atmosphere even more electric," he added.
Two-time champion Cilic said the tournament was good preparation for the Australian Open starting January 14.
"I'm delighted to be back in Chennai, especially since I could not participate in last year's event due to an injury. I have chosen to start my five previous seasons here and have had great success as a lead up to the Australian Open. It's always a pleasure to play in Chennai, a city that has grown to become a home away from home for me," Cilic said.
Wawrinka, who would be playing in the tournament for the fifth time, said Chennai was growing as an early date on the ATP calendar.
"The tournament has become huge over the years and it's great to see how amazing it gets from year to year. I adore the spectators and preparing for Chennai has a very relaxing feeling to it. Support from the crowd is probably the main reason I come back," Wawrinka said.
The Indian challenge comes from Somdev Devvarman, who is returning from injury and will be eager to begin a fresh season with some wins under his belt, and talented youngster Yuki Bhambri, who will aim to make the most of his wild card after a second-round showing last year.