Chennai: If Serbian Janko Tipsarevic fancies himself as a top contender for the title in the 2012 ATP Aircel Chennai Open, then it is not without good reason, especially since he ended the year on a high with a win against World No. 1 and compatriot Novak Djokovic at the Tour Finals in London.
In fact, 2011 was a good year for the 27-year old Serb, who broke into top-10 for the first time in his career after starting the year at No. 49 and capped it with the win against Djokovic, who himself had a tremendous season with three Grand Slam titles.
"Even though I don't like playing against close friends, it was a great way to finish the season," Tiparevic said as he prepares for the Chennai Open beginning here on Monday.
"It was an intense match because we are both good friends and know each other's games inside out. Regardless of that I played really well," recalled Tipsarevic of his win against Djokovic.
For all his talent, Tipsarevic is still to win the Chennai Open where he reached the semi-finals in the previous two attempts.
While admitting that winning his maiden Chennai Open crown would be no easy task given the strong field that includes No. 10 Nicolas Almagro, defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka and former champion Xavier Malisse, Tipsarevic said he was looking forward to the tournament.
"I like the tournament, but mainly I like the people. It is a great event in my opinion. Even though I somehow don't expect it, the crowd is amazing - even if I play against Indians, especially in night sessions.
"It is the people that make the difference, really polite, easy going and with a lot of respect towards players," said Tipsarevic, who won two ATP titles in 2011.
"It was like a dream-come-true. My goal at the beginning of the year was to be top-20 and win my first ATP title. I never thought I could reach this far so fast, only in one season. My determination made the difference," he said reflecting on the year gone by.
Tipsarevic will be partnering Leander Paes in doubles, and the pair is seeded No. 2. "I have known Lee (Paes) for a long time from the tour. He is one of the best doubles players in the history of the sport, and I am very happy to have a chance to partner up with him," the Serb said.