Cilic, del Potro in talks for Chennai Open

Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion has won Chennai Open twice. Juan Martin del Potro has beaten the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray this season.

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO

Juan Martin del Potro is on a comeback trail after losing couple of years to injuries.   -  Reuters

In spite of having lost out on Stan Wawrinka, Chennai Open could still have an ace up its sleeve. It has been learnt that the organisers are in advanced talks with former U.S. Open champions Marin Cilic and Juan Martin del Potro, and at least one of them is certain to play.

Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion, is no stranger to the event having won the tournament twice -- first in 2009 beating India’s Somdev Devvarman and then in 2010 beating Wawrinka. If the Croatian returns, it will be his sixth appearance.

The Argentine, del Potro, is a proven crowd-puller. The 2009 U.S. Open champion is on a comeback trail after losing couple of years to injuries. He beat the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray this season and won the silver medal at the Rio Olympics. It will be his maiden visit to Chennai.

Wawrinka, a three-time Chennai Open champion, had developed a strong association with the city, having made eight appearances. But it is understood that the tournament could no longer afford him.

Despite competition from cash-rich tournaments in Doha and Brisbane, which happen in the same week, Chennai Open has regularly attracted some of the top players. The city's weather in early January is similar to what the players experience at the Australian Open, which happens two weeks after the tournament in Chennai.

“We will definitely have a strong field next year with some exciting young talent and a Grand Slam winner,” said a source. “We have always been able to attract promising youngsters and continue to do so.”

“We have seen the likes of David Goffin, Kyle Edmund, Karen Khachanov among others turn out here very early in their careers. Look at where they are all now!”

Brit Edmund recently broke into the top-50 while 20-year-old Karen Khachanov won the ATP 250 event in Chengdu, China last week. Goffin, the Belgian currently ranked 12 in the world, had reached the quarterfinals in 2012 even while ranked 174. At least two among the three are likely to return to Chennai.