Chennai:The Chennai Open received a boost this year with Belgian Xavier Malisse, the winner of both singles and doubles titles in the last edition, confirming his return to the event, commencing here on December 31.
"It feels great to be back to Chennai, where it all began. I won a memorable double last year but had a spate of injuries due to which I have not been able to perform consistently. I am confident of making a successful comeback and defend my titles," Malisse said.
Four Top 20 players, including World Number 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain, have confirmed participation for the tournament.
Known for his powerful forehand play, Malisse had a dream run in the Chennai Open last year as he ousted Nadal in the semifinals and beat Austrian Stefan Koubek for the title.
With compatriot Dick Norman, the Belgian went on to get the better of Nadal and Bartolome Salve Vidal (Spain) 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4) for the doubles title.
However, Malisse could play only in five ATP tournaments this year due to a wrist injury in the right hand, resulting in a slide in his ranking to 109.
He had won the singles and doubles titles in two of the first three ATP tour events -- Chennai and Delray Beach -- becoming the first player to accomplish the feat twice in a season since Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996.
After his wrist injury in February, the 27-year old skipped tour events for six months before returning for the US Open in late August, where he lost to Argentina's David Nalbandian in the second round.