Chennai :Second seed Marin Cilic of Croatia started his title defense on a stormy note by overcoming Russian Igor Kunitsyn 6-2, 6-4 to enter second round of the $400,000 Aircel ATP Chennai Open tennis tournament here on Monday.
Cilic, the youngest player of the tournament, made good use of his strong serves to send down eight aces in all in the 73-minute encounter and was never broken through out the match.
The 28-year-old Russsian, who dropped to a low 101 ranked after achieving a career-best ranking of 35 in July last year, never looked impressive against his 21-year-old opponent and fell prey to Cilic's strategies.
Cilic, who has two ATP titles under his belt including the Chennai Open last year, excelled with his abilities on ground strokes, while his rival was left clueless.
Meanwhile, two-time winner Carlos Moya -- a wild card entrant, went down to hard hitting Serbian Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 7-6(7-2) in straight game.
In other match on the opening day, Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic brought first upset of the tournament by dismissing sixth seed Simon Greul of Germany 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
"I made the best of a few openings in the first set and then had an early break in the second after which I dominated the match. I am quite happy at the way I played," Cilic said after the match.
"I don't think there is any pressure on me. I just concentrate on my game and not think of other players. All I know is that I have to win five matches to claim the title," he added.
In the Moya-Tipsarevic tie, the Spaniard scored a few winners but particularly never rose his game, perhaps because he was coming back from an injury lay-off.
Gruel, the 28-year old from Stuttgart, ranked 59, won the first set with a measure of comfort, but turned error-prone thereafter even as Hajek, 26, got his backhand going to take the next two and close the match in 107 minutes.
Results (Main draw):
Singles (1st round): 2-Marin Cilic (Croatia) bt Igor Kunitsyn (Russia) 6-2, 6-4; Jan Hajek (Czech Republic) bt Simon Gruel (Germany) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4; Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) bt Bjorn Phau (Germany) 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-3; 4-Janko Tipsarevic (Serbia) bt Carlos Moya (Spain) 6-3, 7-6(2).