SO LONG SERBIAN OPEN
The Djokovic family owned Serbian Open, scheduled for Belgrade for April and May, has bitten the dust. The ATP effectively “bought back” the licence to run the tournament, which was the traditional Dutch clay event at Amersfoot. Various factors have been blamed, including the timing in the calendar and poor attendances in the absence of Novak Djokovic.
But if you really want an idea as to the costs of staging an ATP 250 event, where you can’t necessarily persuade the star names to come, is that the budget that had to be found was around two MILLION Euros. Pablo Andujar, Andreas Seppi, Jarkko Nieminen and David Nalbandian were the top four seeds last year. Are they the names that can attract that sum in sponsorship? If those are typical costs it seems amazing any 250 events can take place at all.
That didn’t stop the always politcial animal Sergiy Stakhovsky muttering that there was little effort made to see if the tournament could be staged elsewhere for 2013.
GRAND IN YOUR HAND
Rajeev Ram thanked the Australian Open organisers for them handing out $1,000 per player to help with travel expenses to the end of the globe, adding that the other slams could perhaps take note. It’s a significant aid for a man not in the main singles draw, though he will be in the doubles with new partner Rohan Bopanna. It does seem an exceptionally generous gesture, and it puts further pressure on the other Slams, who have already been boosting early prize money to try and avoid players becoming yet more mutinous. Qualifiers get the cash too.
INDIA DAVIS CUP SCUPPERED
Mahesh Bhupati released a statement on behalf of several Indian players, saying they will not make themselves available for Davis Cup until the All India Tennis Association improved it’s organisation. They want six players pre-selected, consultation on playing surface, a team physio and coach, a better deal on prize money and equality in travel arrangements.
India are due to travel to South Korea next month for their Asia/Oceania Group One tie, but as things stand they’ll be without Somdev Devvarman, Vishnu Vardan, Sanam Singh, Rohan Bopanna, Yuki Bhambri, Divij Sharan and Saketh Mynini..but not Leander Paes.
Bhupati said: “Tennis is a demanding sport physically and mentally, and these suggestions accommodate those factors. It shouldn’t be a hard decision for the AITA. If Leander (Paes) and I could have been on the same page years ago we would have done the same but the next generation seems to have us back on track now.”
TIME GENTLEMEN, PLEASE
Umpires (mostly) made an effort to enforce the new penalties for slow play, with several leading names penalised for their sloth in between points. Some blamed ball boys, while Gael Monfils perhaps had the most novel attempt at trying to avoid the wrath of the officials. “I’m black, so I sweat a lot,” he told the officials during his match with Phillip Kohlschreiber in Doha.
PLAYER BITS AND BOBS
Among the players who can take encouragement in their week in Chennai were Prakash Amritraj. The former Newport finalist is 29 and seems to have decided to get back into tennis. Six months after picking up a racket again, he qualified for the tournament, beat top 100 player Guillaume Rufin and pushed Go Soeda all the way before losing in three sets, Stick at it Prakash…
2011 Challenger Tour finals winner Cedrik-Marcel Stebe also reached the last 16 after qualifying. His 2012 was constantly disrupted by medical issues, including breathing problems, but there were good signs if he stays fit, while the always feisty Roberto Bautista Agut exceeded all expectations in reaching the final.
The ever popular Dustin Brown had his chance to beat David Ferrer in Doha partly scuppered by a hole in the court.