World number 13 Marin Cilic will return to India to defend his Chennai Open title as the Croat has confirmed his participation in the January 5 to 11 event.
Cilic is in red-hot form and defeated top seed Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals of the Shanghai ATP Masters 1000 in Beijing last week.
He beat Nikolay Davydenko and Nadal for the first time in his career but lost to Novak Djokovic in the title clash.
He is the first player to confirm his availability to play in India’s only ATP International Series Tennis tournament, officials said.
The 21-year-old Cilic had defeated India’s Somdev Devvarman 6-4 7-6 (3) last year to lift the Chennai Open trophy last year.
The Chennai event, owned by sports and event management company IMG, began in 1996 and offers a total prize money of USD 450,000.
The Chennai Open was adjudged the ATP Players Services Award of excellence in 2006 and Best Marketing Award in 2008.
From 2009, the tournament will be sponsored by Aircel.