Chennai: Somdev Devvarman begins his bid for a top-100 return while an age-defying Leander Paes could again run into his estranged doubles partner Mahesh Bhupathi, who returns to the court after a nine-month gap with the USD 450,000 ATP Chennai Open beginning here on Monday.
Other than Indian troika of Devvarman, Paes and Bhupathi, the Chennai crowd up will turn up at the SDAT Tennis Stadium to see world number four and reigning Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka.
The Swiss player is the favourite to defend his title here in what will be his seventh appearance. "I like Chennai very much. The atmosphere is always great and the fans are amazing, that's why I keep coming back. The crowd makes that stadium go wild. The tournament was a great start to an amazing year in 2014 and I hope that it will be the same in the New Year," said Wawrinka.
While Wawrinka has been given a first-round bye in the men's singles first round beginning tomorrow, India's best bet and 138th-ranked Devvarman has a tough opener against World No.38 Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei.
"It is a tough match and is a tough draw and Yen had come off a fantastic season breaking in to top 40. I had practiced with him in Doha and he is a strong opponent," said Devvarman.
Another Indian wild card in the main draw is 241st-ranked Ramkumar Ramanathan, who takes on 93rd-ranked Tatsuma Ito of Japan in the first round. The 20-year-old rose to prominence after humbling Devvarman in opening round here last year.
The other singles players to lookout for include Spain's second seed Feliciano Lopez, his countryman and third seed Roberto Bautista Agut and fourth seed David Goffin of Belgium.
In the doubles, IPTL founder Bhupathi partners Saketh Myneni and makes a comeback to the court after March 2014 when he played in the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami event with Kevin Anderson. It will be interesting to see how many tournaments the 40-year-old plays this season.
Bhupathi-Myneni have been handed a wildcard alongside another Indian pair of N. Sriram Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan. Paes enters his 25th ATP season at home and will pair up alongside Raven Klaasen of South Africa. The top seeds have a bye in the first round and are drawn to meet Bhupathi-Myneni or Colombia's Alejandro Falla and Alejandro Gonzalez in the second round.
Purav Raja has teamed up with Canada's Adil Shamasdin. They play their opener against Aljaz Bedene and Damir Dzumhur.