Marin Cilic

Chennai, Jan 1 (IANS) Saketh Myneni and Ramkumar Ramanathan will spearhead the Indian challenge against a strong foreign field headlined by world No.6 Marin Cilic at the Chennai Open tennis tournament starting here from Monday.

Last year’s runner-up Borna Coric of Croatia, Spaniards Roberta Bautista Agut and Albert Ramos-Vinolas are also expected to be strong challengers.

With defending champion Stan Wawrinka opting to skip the tournament this year, Cilic — who won the title in 2009 and 2010 — is considered to be the frontrunner.

The Croat had enjoyed an excellent run of form in 2016. He claimed his maiden Masters title in Cincinnati, defeating current Wimbledon champion Andy Murray in the final.

At the 2016 Paris Masters, Cilic defeated Novak Djokovic for the first time in his career to reach the semi-finals, where he had lost to John Isner.

Bautista Agut also enjoyed a good run in 2016. The World No.14 won two ATP titles and also notched up a win over Djokovic.

Apart from Myneni and local lad Ramanathan, Yuki Bhambri and Prajnesh Gunneswaran are the other Indians in the fray in singles.

In the doubles category, veteran star Leander Paes will take to the court with partner Andre Sa from Brazil.

Paes and Sa will face the Indian combination of Divij Sharan and Purav Raja in the opening round.

Rohan Bopanna meanwhile, has joined up with local lad Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan.

Wild card entrants Myneni-Ramanathan and Sriram Balaji-Vishnu Vardhan will also be seen in action.

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