Defending champion Janko Tipsarevic, world no. 15 and 2008 champion Mikhail Youzhny and No. 16 Fabio Fognini will join No. 8 Stanislas Wawrinka in what is a strong field for the Aircel Chennai Open to be held from December 30, 2013 to January 5, 2014.

South Asia’s only ATP World Tour event will be marked by the lowest ever cut-off for direct entries in the tournament’s history at No. 89, including seven players from the ATP top 40.

Somdev to get wild card

Somdev Devvarman, India’s highest-ranked player at 90, who has had an impressive season after clawing his way back up from 664 at the start of the year, narrowly missed out on an automatic spot, but has been assured one of the three wild cards.

“The organising committee will decide suitably on the wild cards. But Somdev will definitely get one,” said Tamil Nadu Tennis Association secretary C.B.N. Reddy.

Indian tennis’ other big names — Mahesh Bhupathi, Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna — have also confirmed their participation, though they are yet to announce their respective partners, for which they will have time till December 28.

The 28-man field — 21 direct entries, three wild cards and four qualifiers — will also feature No. 26 Benoit Paire, last year’s doubles champion (along with Wawrinka) and singles semifinalist, and Roberto Bautista-Agut (last year’s runner-up).

No. 99 Sergiy Stakhovsky, who dumped Roger Federer out of Wimbledon in the second round, and Go Soeda, who beat Wawrinka here last year, are in the alternates’ list and will get in should anybody withdraw.

It is also the second time that three former champions will form a part of the playing field. But more interestingly, the last six years hasn’t seen the top seed triumph. “I hope Wawrinka (the highest-ranked player) bucks the trend this time,” said Reddy. Yuki Bhambri, ranked 204, will also be in contention for a wild card. In addition, a sizeable Indian contingent with Saketh Myneni (no. 312), Sanam Singh (319) and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (321) among others is expected to battle it out in the qualifying phases. Doubles pair Divij Sharan and Purav Raja will be on show too.

The prize money for the tournament sees a five per cent increase from $430,000 to $450,000 and live telecast will be on STAR Sports instead of TEN Sports which has been broadcasting it for the last few years.

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