This year marks a birthday party, a celebration to mark 25 years of Germany’s top tennis tournament. And of course, the “man of the year” in international tennis has big plans for this extra-special GERRY WEBER OPEN, which takes place from the 17th to 25th of June 2017: “My goal is the title. I want to win, without a doubt,” says Roger Federer (ATP 4), who starts the anniversary tournament as the top-seeded player. Federer, the most influential figure in a quarter century of tournament history in East Westphalia, could take his ninth title, after his successes in 2003 to 2006, 2008 and 2013 to 2015. “We are looking forward to Roger’s return. He helped to lead the tournament in a new direction and raise awareness of it internationally”, explains tournament director Ralf Weber at the introduction the ATP 500 tournament player draw. Federer provided non-stop sporting sensations from the beginning of the year when he won the Australian Open immediately following a six-month injury break - and then also won the Masters competitions in Indian Wells and Miami.
Three of the ten best tennis players in the world and eight of the top ten will serve at the 25th grass tournament in Halle in Westphalia, including Germany’s greatest hope for the future, 20-year-old Alexander Zverev from Hamburg (ATP 19). The youngster, who recently won his third ATP title in Munich, wants to get involved in the fight for the trophy, just like Federer - and aims for his 2017 appearance to top the previous year’s. “Halle is already one of my favourite tournaments. It would be a dream come true to win here,” says Zverev. At the 24th GERRY WEBER OPEN, Zverev knocked out record-holder Federer with a thrilling performance in the semi-final, but was beaten by his countryman, the surprise winner Florian Mayer, in the final.
At the birthday celebrations, which mark another milestone in the history of the GERRY WEBER OPEN tournament, top ten aces Kei Nishikori (ATP 8) and Dominic Thiem (ATP 9) also want to have a say in the matter. “I’ve already shown that I can play excellent tennis in Halle,” says Asian tennis idol Nishikori, protégé of the legendary Michael Chang. Austrian shooting star Thiem, who is good friends with Alexander Zverev, has already established himself as one of the up-and-coming top talents in the tour circuit - he has the strength and the potential to achieve outstanding results on all surfaces. “The competition is fierce in Halle, it’s another strong field,” says Thiem. “You have to be in top form if you want to achieve something great”.
Indeed, the player draw of the 25th GERRY WEBER OPEN is impressive not just because of outstanding players like Roger Federer, but also thanks to a high quality of players throughout the tournament.
In recent years the cut-off, or in other words the limit for direct qualification to the main draw, has never been as high and demanding as in 2017. The last professional player to slip into the draw was defending champion Florian Mayer, who is ranked 51st in the world. “Spectators can look forward to thrilling, top-notch duels from the first day onwards,” says tournament director Ralf Weber. “It’s going to be a top-class tournament”.
Weber also points out the recently renewed contract of title sponsor GERRY WEBER International AG for the next five years, until 2022: “This provides the tournament with stability and allows long-term planning”. A study by the University of Bremen recently found that the fashion label’s rights to the name of the ATP 500 event have an equivalent value of approximately 18 to 22 million euros per year. In 2016, the tournament was broadcast worldwide for a record 4057 hours – in 2014 it was broadcast for 2392 hours. “These numbers also make the tournament attractive for our sponsor partners,” says marketing manager Horst Erpenbeck.
Alongside Alexander Zverev, other directly qualified German Tennis Federation players include his brother Mischa (ATP 31), Philipp Kohlschreiber from Augsburg (ATP 37) and in-form local player Jan-Lennard Struff (ATP 44). In addition, thanks to wild cards, Dustin Brown (ATP 74) and Tommy Haas (ATP 403) are also in the draw. The German-American Haas, two-time winner of the GERRY WEBER OPEN in 2009 and 2012, is on a farewell tour of the centre courts this spring and summer. The veteran, now 39, was recently in good match form. Tournament director Ralf Weber provided Russian hopeful Andrey Rublev, who is ranked 118th in the world, with the third wild card.
Following the tradition of the tournament, there is a strong French presence in Halle - four musketeers want to fight for the trophy: Newcomer Lucas Pouille (ATP 13) leads the players of the Grande Nation, followed by showman Gael Monfils (ATP 16), Richard Gasquet (ATP 24) and Gilles Simon (ATP32). As a literally unpredictable force, the 2.08m tall Croatian giant Ivo Karlovic is taking part in the anniversary contest - two years ago, the big-server set a new record for three-set matches on the ATP World Tour with 45 aces. The Halle debut of 20-year-old Russian Karen Khachanov (ATP 42) is also eagerly awaited; he is one of the poster boys of the internationally marketed next generation of professional tennis. The established Spanish aces Roberto Bautista-Agut (ATP 19), David Ferrer (ATP 30) and Fernando Verdasco (ATP 35) should also not be lost sight of in the race for the title.
Great tennis will also be played in Halle in Westphalia even before the fight for title number 25, at the popular “schauinsland-reisen Champions Trophy”, a series of show matches between present and past stars. A special format for a special occasion: For the 25th anniversary, the show matches will stretch over two days: Saturday June 17th and Sunday June 18th. On Saturday (beginning at 5:00 PM), two German Grand Slam champions will be on the court, Angelique Kerber and Michael Stich. Together with Austrian star Thomas Muster, Kerber will be facing Stich and Laura Siegemund. The Stuttgart native was recently in outstanding form to win her home tournament, the Porsche Grand Prix.
On Sunday, two matches are planned: Austria’s tennis darling Barbara Schett and joker Mansour Bahrami play first at 12:00 PM against Andrea Petkovic and ex-Halle-champion Nicolas Kiefer. And at 4:00 PM the finalists from the tournament’s first year, then-winner Henri Leconte and then-runner-up Andrei Medvedev, are called upon against the duo of Yevgeni Kafelnikow and Paul Haarhuis. With his three GERRY WEBER OPEN titles, Kafelnikow is the most successful player after Roger Federer.
The TV broadcasts of the 25th GERRY WEBER OPEN are split between Eurosport and ZDF as in previous years. Eurosport is showing a total of 18 matches live from Monday to Friday and broadcasting extensive summaries of the semi-finals and the final at the weekend. ZDF will show the first semi-final on Saturday June 24th and broadcast the final live. Images of the GERRY WEBER OPEN will be shown in a total of more than 140 countries worldwide in 2017.
Prices for daily and season tickets can be found on the GERRY WEBER OPEN website. Tickets can be purchased from the ticket hotline on (05201) 81 80 as well as on the Internet at www.gerryweber-open.de and at all CTS ticket offices. The GERRY WEBER Ticket Centre can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and its address is: Weidenstrasse 2 (located just off the B68 towards Osnabrück/Bielefeld) in 33790 HalleWestfalen.