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Aircel Chennai Open 2016: Draws are out, heat is on!

The Singles draws are out for the Aircel Chennai Open 2016, which kicks off today in the southern capital.

Borna Coric is looking to set up a dream final with defending champ Stan Wawrinka

Borna Coric may not be a name that sports lovers in India are familiar with…yet. Back in his country, though, and on the ATP circuit in general, Coric is quite the deal. Still only 19, hailing from Zagreb, Croatia, Coric was the recipient of the ATP Star of Tomorrow award in November 2014 and a star in his own right coming up the junior ranks and a player marked out as one to watch out for on tour.

Last year, Coric managed to live up to his billing to a good extent, making the jump from 102 at the end of 2014 to 44 coming into this tournament, with consistent performances throughout the 2015 season.

At the end of the season, he was only one of two teenagers to be in the Top 100 in the rankings (Nick Kyrgios was the other). He has wins over Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray under his belt already.

Having just finished a brief practice, Coric was present for the singles draw which was held yesterday for the Aircel Chennai Open 2016. He is a confident young man who has utmost belief in his abilities to do well and is clearly relishing the prospect of once again measuring up against the best players in the world. His belligerence and competitive spirit flows as much his youthfulness. In the lead up to the tournament he said he would “relish” a clash in the final against top seed and defending champion Stan Wawrinka.

The path to that final though is a little bumpy. Viewing the overall draw, Coric probably got the trickiest first round encounter of them all, a match versus Spain’s Marcel Granollers. The Spaniard has been a semi-finalist here before, in 2014, and is one of those opponents that is tough to put away. To boot, he got drawn in the bottom half which looks considerably tougher than the top half.

Jokingly, with Tournament Director Tom Annear also present, Coric requested he be given the last match of the night considering the hot and humid conditions and the opposition.

Making his debut at the tournament, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson will be the top man in this half of the draw, which also has the number four seed Roberto Bautista-Agut from Spain and the number seven seed Vasek Pospisil from Canada.

Bautista-Agut is a former finalist (2013), and a semi-finalist the last two years, Last year’s runner-up, Aljaz Bedene – famous for his giant killing, also lurks in this section, having drawn Pospisil in the first round.

Swiss accounts have been worth banking on since the advent of time and the story is much the same for its tennis since Martina Hingis and Roger Federer decided to show the world what they could do.

Wawrinka has wrested his way onto that top podium in the last three years, thanks in no small part to the success he’s enjoyed here. Last year’s French Open win over Novak Djokovic was a thing of beauty, a victory so destructive that it left those who watched in awe.

Wawrinka has what looks like a relatively easy draw, with all four qualifiers having been drawn in his top half. Stan’s good friend and number three seed here, Benoit Paire, returns to the tournament after having given it a miss last year.

The Frenchman is a wildly exciting player to watch and enjoyed a very fulfilling comeback season in 2015, where he rose nearly a 100 places to finish the season ranked 19 after an injury-plagued 2014. The highlight was his first ATP World Tour title at Bastad where he won the tournament without losing a set, and his best ever Grand Slam performance when he reached the fourth round at the US Open.

The top four seeds – Wawrinka, Anderson, Paire and Bautista-Agut – all have a bye in the first round and will not feature on Monday. For Wawrinka, Paire looks to be the biggest obstacle en route to the final, if the pair meet in the semis. Paire will have another giant killer in his path in Czech Lukas Rosol if he gets past Santiago Giraldo in the first round.

Coric will be up on day one of the action at the 2016 Aircel Chennai Open, He will be second on Stadium Court, so clearly his request did not lead to much. He is the only seeded player in action as well. Indian interest lies in the form of Mahesh Bhupathi in doubles action with Gilles Muller against the top seeds Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram in the last match of the evening.

All eyes will be on Coric to see how he goes, let’s hope the heat doesn’t get to him.

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