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Jan 4, 2015 4:31 AM

Wawrinka gears up for Australian Open at Chennai

The Associated Press

CHENNAI, India (AP) Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka will sharpen his preparations for the defense of his only Grand Slam title at the Chennai Open this week.

The world No. 4, who lost to Novak Djokovic on Friday in an exhibition in Abu Dhabi, received a first-round bye in Chennai and is drawn to play either Croatian player Borna Coric or Robin Haase of the Netherlands in the second round.

Wawrinka made his career breakthrough last year after clinching his second title at Chennai, overcoming Djokovic in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and going on to defeat Rafael Nadal in the final.

Wawrinka also helped Switzerland win its maiden Davis Cup title with an epic victory over France. He defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the singles and also figured in a doubles win along with Roger Federer.

"The (Chennai) tournament was a great start to an amazing year in 2014 and I hope that it will be the same in the new year," the 29-year-old said ahead of the 20th edition of south Asia's only ATP World Tour event. "I've had a few great wins (last year), starting from the ones against Novak, (Tomas) Berdych and Nadal in Melbourne as well as beating Roger in the final in Monte Carlo."

Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Roberto Bautista Agut are seeded second and third, respectively, while Belgian David Goffin is seeded fourth at the tournament.

The 24-year-old Goffin, who won his first ATP match here in 2011 and made the quarterfinals in 2012, said he was looking to improve his performance this time around.

"I have fond memories of playing some good matches here. I hope to do better this year having broken into the top 25," said Goffin, who was named as the ATP's comeback player of 2014 after returning from a wrist injury to climb up the rankings from 110.

Local favorite Somdev Devvarman is among those to be given wild cards and doubles specialists Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi will be seen in action partnering different players.


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