- Associated Press - Saturday, December 29, 2012

CHENNAI, INDIA (AP) - Sixth-ranked Czech player Tomas Berdych heads a strong field that includes four top-20 players in the Chennai Open that starts on Monday.

World No.9 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia and former champions Marin Cilic of Croatia (15) and Stanislas Wawrinka (17) of Switzerland are the other big names in the field.

Also in the field are Frenchman Benoit Paire, who showed good form in 2012 and has risen to 47 in the ATP rankings, Dutchman Robin Haase, Taiwan’s Yen-Hsun Lu, and Japan’s Go Soeda.

Berdych defeated Roger Federer in the quarterfinals of this year’s US Open. He is returning to Chennai after missing the previous year.

Berdych lost to Wawrinka in the semifinals of the 2011 tournament, but is among the favorites because of his liking for hard courts. Among his biggest threats would be Tipsarevic, who lost a marathon final to Milos Raonic last year.

“It’s a great event,” Tipsarevic said. “You’ve been seeing a lot of me in the last few years, and every year I am playing better and better as you can see and I really want to win the whole thing this year.”

Two-time champion Cilic said the tournament was good preparation for the Australian Open starting Jan. 14.

“I’m delighted to be back in Chennai, especially since I could not participate in last year’s event due to an injury. I have chosen to start my five previous seasons here and have had great success as a lead up to the Australian Open,” Cilic said.

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