Marin Cilic of Croatia will be the star attraction at the 22nd edition of the Aircel Chennai Open, the oldest and most prestigious international sporting tournament in India.
The 2014 US Open champion, who attained his best ever ranking just on Sunday, moving up from World No. 7 to 6, confirmed his entry for India’s premium event at the SDAT Tennis Stadium in Nungambakkam
“I am so happy to announce on the day that I have broken into the top six that I am coming back to India to play in front of adoring Chennai fans,” Cilic said.
The 28-year-old star has been one of the mainstays at the Chennai Open ever he made his first appearance here in 2008. He has returned to play as many as six times to underline his love affair with the country.
Of course, he has been a proud winner a couple of times too, to be in a select group headed by World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka (a four-time winner), and former World No. 1 Carlos Moya (twice).
Cilic annexed the trophy in 2009 and 2010, and will be eager to make it a grand treble at one of his favourite tennis destinations.
The Aircel Chennai Open, the only ATP World Tour tournament in South Asia, has become kind of a heritage tournament in India. It has given most of the country’s top players the platform to break into the higher echelons of world tennis while also bringing down some of the biggest stars of the game every year
“We are proud to be associated with the prestigious tournament for so many years. We have always strived to bring the best players to India and help Indian tennis,” said Tom Annear, Tournament Director, Aircel Chennai Open.
Cilic has been in roaring form this year, having claimed two ATP events in the last few months. He took the Cincinnati Masters in August and the coveted Swiss Indoor title in October. More importantly, he has beaten some of the best players along the way, including current World No. 1 Andy Murray, former World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and World No. 5 Kei Nishikori.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Tamil Nadu Government for their continued support to our tournament. It’s an honour for us that Cilic is coming back to the Aircel Chennai Open,” Mr. M.A. Alagappan, President of Tamil Nadu Tennis Association, said. “He has been in great form and will bring an extra edge to the competition,” he added.
Cilic’s sensational year has seen him steadily rise in world rankings, reaching his own pinnacle on November 7, 2017, when he climbed to No. 7. It was enough to give him entry into the august field at the ATP World Tour finals. He made the most of the opportunity to break into the Top Six for the first time ever.
The Croatian powerhouse sees the Aircel Chennai Open as an auspicious start to his campaign in 2017.
“I hope to break into the top five, and the top three, this year. I feel Chennai is a lucky hunting ground for me, and will help me achieve my immediate goal. I think it will be a great way to begin 2017,” Cilic said.
Recalling his earlier visits to Chennai, Cilic said: “I have very fond memories of my trips to Chennai. It was kind of at a crucial stage of my career and my success here helped me become a better, more complete player.”
Talking about being the highest seeded player in the tournament, he quipped: “It’s a nice feeling. But it will also put me under some pressure as I have to live up to the expectations of fans. Hopefully, it will bring out the best in me and that will be a great start to my new year.”