by Per Gut
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
From Wednesday, March 18, and for three days the senior tournament Kings of Tennis will be played in Stockholm. Pete Sampras' name is on the poster, but something takes the fun out. I'm afraid this is one of the last Kings of Tennis events we'll see.
This year Stockholm will host a stage of the ATP Champions Tour for the fourth time. Unfortunately, I think the competition at the Stockholm Waterfront has become worse and worse.
In 2012 it started with eight players in Stockholm, among the others Stefan Edberg, Goran Ivanisevic, Pat Cash and John McEnroe. Mats Wilander also would have been there, but he got injured in a freak accident during the Australian Open.
Despite Wilander’s defection the line-up was really good and the event formula (two groups of four players each) was easy to understand. However I did not like the Waterfront as an arena. Players could not move outwards without risking to crash into a fence set around the court.
In 2013 the area around the court looked bigger. In contrast, the line-up was cut short to six players and got a defection from Jimmy Connors.
Last year, I thought that the starting field had dropped again. And this year the line-up has taken yet another step in the wrong direction. For example, Xavier Malisse. He doesn’t even meet the requirements to be in the Champions Tour, but must have received a wild card or something.
The steady deterioration of the player field and the dubious scene makes me think about the future of the Kings of Tennis. I wonder even if not all of the veteran tennis is about to lose its point. It filled a function at a time when tennis was weak, but today I do not know.
● The generations with Ilie Nastase, McEnroe and Connors are approaching or have already turned 60 years old.
● The generations after them (Wilander, Edberg, Becker) have heavy features in tennis that keep them busy.
● The generation that came even after them (the one Malisse and others belong to) was frankly quite weak.
Moreover, the current generation of stars (Federer, Nadal and Djokovic) quite outshined those of yesteryear. I also think it will be hard to see today's stars choose to play veteran tennis in the future. They will have other projects and opportunities to test themselves.
IPTL, the Asian league played last winter, could be an interesting challenger to the veteran tennis. In the IPTL we saw "legends" moments which seemed of appropriate level. In the future the league will give not only the Kings of Tennis, but the entire ATP Champions Tour something to bite if they want to survive.
- Stefan Edberg at the 2016 Necker Cup
- Win the chance to meet Stefan Edberg at the Kings of Tennis
- Kings of Tennis, another year without Stefan Edberg
- Enqvist overhauls Edberg, he is the King of Stockholm
- "It's incredible to have you here"
- Edberg defeated Wilander: "He learned from Federer"
- Clinical Edberg sets up Enqvist final
- "My serve? It's probably up in the bar with a beer..."