Chennai: World number 17 and defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland sounded a note of caution ahead of the Chennai Open, saying the field was "very interesting" and nothing could be taken for granted in the world of professional tennis.
"I can't wait to kick off the season after working hard during the off-season," said Wawrinka, who has won a gold medal partnering Roger Federer at the Beijing Olympics.
"I love those events at the beginning of the year and hopefully I can do as well as last year or maybe even better. Breaking back into the top-10 would be great and is always one of my goals. I'm not that far and feel that I can do it," he added, ahead of the tournament starting on Monday.
Wawrinka is ready for the task after training in the Swiss mountains.
"My preparation was great. I spent some time in Gstaad in the Swiss mountains where I did a lot of physical work. Then I went back to Lausanne where I practiced a lot on the court with some Swiss players. I feel like I'm ready and well prepared."
"I always look forward to the week in Chennai. The conditions suit my game and I have played some great matches in this stadium. The atmosphere can get very electric, the crowd is very enthusiastic, and that's something I like," he said.
Talking about players who could pose problems for him in the event, Wawrinka said, "The draw is very interesting and it will be a great tournament for sure."
The field includes Serbian world No. 9 Janko Tipsarevic, world No. 10 Nicolas Almagro of Spain and the big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic.
"Tipsarevic has showed in 2011 that he is one of the contenders for the top 10 in 2012; Raonic is a young player with an impressive game who loves to play on any fast surface and will for sure cause some upsets in the next few months. Almagro is a big fighter and always a tough opponent."
Wawrinka, who is making his fourth appearance in this event, reiterated, "As I said, I'm looking forward to defend my title. I have played some great tennis here and hope that it will be the case again this year. The tournament has a great line-up and it will be very challenging."
"The level in men's tennis is great and you have to play your best to be able to win matches, not even talking about reaching finals or titles. But I'm confident that I can do well again, hopefully with the support of the crowd."
Listing the positives from the season gone by, Wawrinka said, "Helping to bring Switzerland back into the World Group in Davis Cup was one of my biggest achievements in 2011. Roger (Federer) has confirmed his participation for the first-round tie against the USA. We haven't discussed all the details yet but we will fight hard to defend our title at the Olympics and in Wimbledon."