Somdev Devvarman, who was ranked as high as No. 62 before being sidelined by shoulder surgery, will continue his comeback at the Aircel Chennai Open.

The 27-year-old has received a wild card for the 250 series tournament, India and South Asia’s only ATP World Tour event, which will be played at the SDAT Tennis Stadium here from December 31, 2012.

At a press conference to announce the player field, Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA) president M.A. Alagappan said, “Since Somdev has been unlucky with injury and lost out on the rankings [he’s currently No. 656], we thought he should get a wild card. We haven’t decided on the other wild card yet.”

Alagappan added that Indian tennis’ other big names — Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna — would feature in the doubles.

Strong field

Defending champion Milos Raonic has chosen not to return, but the 28-man singles draw for the 2013 edition is one of the strongest in the tournament’s history. It contains two top-10 players — Tomas Berdych and Janko Tipsarevic — and two others in the top 20 — Marin Cilic and Stanislas Wawrinka.

IMG Worldwide head of tennis and former tournament director Fernando Soler said, via video-conference, that it was a challenge to assemble such a competitive field.

“At the same time there’s Doha, which has more prize money, and Brisbane and the Hopman Cup in Perth, which are better located in terms of the Australian Open. To get four from the top 20 [means] tennis fans in Chennai can expect great competition.”

The contract with IMG ends in 2013, but Alagappan was confident the event would stay in the city, saying the TNTA had “the first right of refusal.”

“We are fairly confident of signing a new contract,” he said. “We have to commit for five years, from 2014 to 2018. IMG owns the tournament and has the opportunity to take it to other countries. But they have given us time to commit. We are thankful to the Tamil Nadu government for its support and we hope Aircel will continue. We are looking for additional sponsors to come in.”

Direct entries (country, ranking): Tomas Berdych (Cze, 6), Janko Tipsarevic (Srb, 9), Marin Cilic (Cro, 15), Stanislas Wawrinka (Sui, 17), Benoit Paire (Fra, 47), Robin Haase (Ned, 56), Go Soeda (Jpn, 58), Yen-Hsun Lu (Tpe, 60), Igor Sijsling (Ned, 69), Andrey Kuznetsov (Rus, 79), Roberto Bautista-Agut (Esp, 80), Guillaume Rufin (Fra, 90), Blaz Kavcic (Slo, 92), Flavio Cipolla (Ita, 93), Evgeny Donskoy (Rus, 96), Alijaz Bedene (Slo, 98), Joao Sousa (Esp, 99), Edouard Roger-Vasselin (Fra, 100), Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukr, 101), Matthais Bachinger (Ger, 104), Jan Hajek (Cze, 105), Dudi Sela (Isr, 109). Note: Field includes four qualifiers and two wild cards.

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