by Mauro Cappiello
Stefan Edberg serves during the 2012 Zurich Open, that won't be held next year (photo by Michel Mayerle)
A short press release on the home page of the official site informs that the Zurich Open, one of the most recent events of the ATP Champions Tour, lost its main sponsor, BNP Paribas, last August. Although organizers are said to be seeking for an economic solution, the tournament will surely not take place in 2013 (it is not even included in the ATP Champions Tour website schedule), at least not in Zurich.
Started in 2010 and held in the second part of March, the BNP Paribas Zurich Open has been one of Stefan Edberg's favourite senior circuit venues. He won the first edition, beating John McEnroe in the semifinal and Goran Ivanisevic in the final. Although he didn't take part in the event last year, due to injury, he came back in 2012, reaching the final, only losing to Carlos Moya in the Champions tie-break after suffering a left leg strain when he was about to serve for the title in the second set.
The Zurich Open was known for his particular formula, called "Where Champions Meet Talents". Along with eight former tennis glories, also some of the most promising juniors had the chance of an international stage. They could also measure themselves with the champions of the past, playing with them in a "champion-junior mixed doubles" mini-tournament.
The 2012 edition had left a little bitter taste for the organizers. In spite of an excellent organization (some matches had been streamed live by internettv.ch, there was an official live score and a very good media coverage that gave the event a great visibility worldwide, which is so rare for a Champions tournament), the audience had been lower than expected: only 11 thousand spectators for the entire week with a capacity crowd of 2,500 for the Saalsportshalle.
The future of the Open didn't seem to be under question, but the drop of attendance must have been a decisive factor for the main sponsor, BNP Paribas, who decided not to renew the contract, expired after the first three years. And the departure itself of a sponsor like BNP, one of the key tennis supporters, who is behind the Davis Cup and the French Open, as well as some other Masters 1000 events, is a worrying news for the game.
Lots of big names had come to the Swiss economic capital since 2010. Besides Stefan Edberg and John McEnroe and the already mentioned Goran Ivanisevic and Carlos Moya, also Pete Sampras, Richard Krajicek, Sergi Bruguera, Michael Chang (all former Grand Slam winners), Mark Philippoussis, Henri Leconte and Tim Henman, among the others, had been major attractions for the crowd. We hope that the tournament can find a way to go on, maybe with another sponsor and in another venue, but with the same format. The global demand for Champions tennis is growing and the deletion of such an important stage is a huge loss for the Senior circuit, but also for the junior tennis scene.
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