The 22nd edition of the Aircel Chennai Open promises to be a world-class affair, with two more tennis heavyweights confirming their presence for the country’s oldest and most prestigious tournament.
Just a day after World No. 6 Marin Cilic announced his return after three years, World No. 14 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain and rising star World No. 48 Borna Coric signed up for the season’s opening ATP event, starting on January 2nd at the SDAT Tennis Stadium in Nungambakkam.
Agut, who has struck a personal rapport with Chennai’s fans, will be making his fifth straight appearance at one of his preferred tennis destinations.
He will start as one of the strongest challengers to Cilic, having been in tremendous form this year. He annexed two ATP titles, winning the Auckland Open in January and the Sofia Open in February to take his kitty to an impressive four. He made it to the fourth round of the Australian Open and the French Open as well, while also featuring in the finals of the Shanghai Masters.
“I have a special bond with the Aircel Chennai Open and India’s fans,” Agut said on Monday. “I am looking forward to beginning the new season by doing my best at Chennai and I will try and break into the Top 10 as soon as possible,” he added.
The 28-year-old is the youngest player from Spain after Rafael Nadal to get into the Top 20, reaching as high as No. 13 in October. Agut, who lost in the 2013 finals to then World No. 9 Janko Tipsarevic despite winning the opening set, is hopeful of going all the way this year.
“I have been in good form this season and hope to carry the momentum and win my maiden title here. I like this tournament as it’s perfect preparation for the rest of my season,” he declared.
The other big draw, Coric, is an exciting young talent at just 19 years of age. The 2013 US Open boys’ champion will be making his third appearance at the Aircel Chennai Open. He went all the way to the finals in 2016 and feels he is primed to take the big one.
“I am quite excited at returning to India. After coming so close last year, I know I have a good chance of winning the title this year. I am focused and am looking forward to winning my first ATP title,” Coric said.
The Croat, just like Agut, comes into the Open on the back of a good year. He made it to the finals of two ATP tournaments and has been steadily rising in the rankings. In fact, he was even named in the coveted 2016 Forbes ‘30 under 30’ sports list.
A number of more top players are expected to be confirmed soon to make the 2017 edition of ATP’s only world tournament in South Asia and India’s heritage tournament a grand affair.
“Coric and Agut will make the tournament very exciting. We are expecting a formidable field this year, with some more big names being lined up,” Tom Annear, Aircel Chennai Open’s Tournament Director said.
“Our goal is to give Chennai and India the best tennis fare possible,” TNTA president Mr Alagappan said. “I am happy that three top players have already confirmed their presence,” he added.
About Aircel Chennai Open 2017
The USD$500,000 Aircel Chennai Open, owned by IMG and operated and organised by IMG Reliance, is India’s and South Asia’s only ATP World Tour event.
Started in 1996, by IMG, a global leader in sports management and marketing, the event enters its 22nd year in Chennai, planting the southern metropolis as well as India on the global tennis map.
Winner of the prestigious ATP’s Player Services Award of Excellence (2006) for its outstanding organization and wonderful hospitality towards the participants and ATP’s Best Marketing Award (2008), the tournament has acquired the status of a much sought-after tennis event for, both, players and fans alike on the International tennis circuit.
The 22nd edition of the event in India, and the 20th in Chennai will be held from January 2 to 8, 2017 at the SDAT Tennis Stadium in Nungambakkam, Chennai. The tournament is conducted with the active collaboration of the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) and the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA).
IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion and media, operating in more than 30 countries around the world. IMG’s businesses include Events & Media, College, Golf, Tennis, Performance and IMG Academy, Fashion, Models, Clients, Consulting, Licensing, Joint Ventures, and creative management agency Art + Commerce.
In 2014, IMG was acquired by WME, the world’s leading entertainment and media agency. Together, the companies offer an unparalleled client roster; world-class partnerships with sponsors, brands and broadcasters; and marquee assets across entertainment, events and fashion.
About IMG Reliance
IMG Reliance Pvt Ltd. is an equal joint venture between Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), India’s largest and most recognised private sector company, and IMG Worldwide (IMG), the world’s leading sports marketing and management company.
The joint venture company will develop, market and manage sports and entertainment in India. Its current assets include India’s premier fashion event, Lakmé Fashion Week and South Asia’s only ATP World Tour event, the Aircel Chennai Open.
IMG Reliance has entered into agreements with the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) to create a new professional basketball league and manage all aspects of the commercial rights of the game in India and the All India Football Federation (AIFF), to improve, popularize and promote the game of football throughout India, from the grassroots to the professional level.