Stanislas Wawrinka returns to the site of his lone hard-court title triumph when he begins his defence of the Aircel Chennai Open on January 2.
The Swiss World No. 17, who landed in the city on Thursday morning (as did No. 31 Milos Raonic and No. 85 Somdev Devvarman), described the field for the upcoming tournament as “very interesting”.
“The draw is very interesting and it will be a great tournament for sure. This is my fourth time here and I always look forward to the week in Chennai. The conditions suit my game and I have played some great matches in this stadium.”
Wawrinka beat Belgian Xavier Malisse in three-sets in the 2011 Chennai Open final, a year after going down in two tie-breaks to give Marin Cilic his second successive title. This year, following Cilic's injury-enforced withdrawal, World Nos. 9 and 10 Janko Tipsarevic and Nicolas Almagro are, along with Wawrinka and the big-serving Raonic, the principal candidates in the singles main draw.
Praise for Tipsarevic
“Tipsarevic has showed in 2011 that he is one of the contenders for the top 10 in 2012. Raonic is a young player with an impressive game who loves to play on any fast surface and is sure to cause some upsets. Almagro is a big fighter and always a tough opponent,” Wawrinka sized up the competition.
On his goals for the coming season, the Swiss star said, “Breaking back into the top-10 would be great and is always one of my goals. I'm not that far and feel that I can do it.”
Wawrinka and Roger Federer are the Olympics doubles champions and the duo would be looking to reprise their Beijing 2008 performance in London.
“We haven't discussed all the details yet but we will fight hard to defend our title at the Olympics in Wimbledon. My off-season preparation was great. I spent some time in Gstaad in the Swiss mountains where I did a lot of physical work. Then I went back to Lausanne where I practised a lot on the court with some Swiss players. I feel like I'm ready and well.” he said.
Meanwhile, World No. 45 Robin Haase of The Netherlands looked doubtful for the season-opener. “By the way, I am not going to Chennai this year. Had to withdraw. If someone wants to know why, one word: Visa.....”, he tweeted.