The corona pandemic ruined a lot of international sports events in the past year, but the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament will ‘just’ start on Monday in Ahoy. Without spectators and without the injured eye-catcher Rafael Nadal. “Top tennis players are like Formula 1 cars.”
Tournament director Richard Krajicek was watching a qualifying match in Rotterdam on Saturday when it really dawned on him: the 48th edition of ‘his’ ABN AMRO tournament will be held without spectators.
“I only saw the coaches and some employees around the track. Then I realized: the main tournament will start in two days and it will look just as empty. That is very special”, Krajicek says in conversation with NU.nl. “It is of course nice that the tournament can continue, but I hope that this is only for one year. Sport belongs to the audience.”
Precisely in the year without spectators, Krajicek managed (for a while) to attract one of the biggest crowd pullers. Tennis fans were delighted to see Nadal in action on Dutch soil for the first time since 2009, but the 34-year-old Spaniard signed out last week due to a lingering back injury.
“I saw Nadal play at the Australian Open and then he made a good impression, but I also realized that he was probably playing with painkillers,” said Krajicek. “I did not assume that he would cancel, but you know it can happen. A top tennis player is a kind of Formula 1 car. It is so fine-tuned. If something does not run completely smoothly, then that causes it. for problems. This is part of top sport, so it is no different. ”
Rafael Nadal has been struggling with back problems for some time and is not fit enough to participate in the ABN AMRO tournament.
‘Have Federer said he is welcome’
Unfortunately for Krajicek, it didn’t stop with Nadal’s cancellation. Among others, defending champion Gaël Monfils, the global number ten Matteo Berrettini, the Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Milos Raonic and Taylor Fritz withdrew at the last minute and shine through their absence in Rotterdam.
“We spoke before the tournament of the best field of participants ever, but we can no longer say that now. It is still a very strong field”, says 49-year-old Krajicek, who with Daniil Medvedev, Stéfanos Tsitsipás, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev still has four top ten players. In addition, three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray is participating with a wildcard.
Roger Federer was also asked to come to Rotterdam, but that was it. “We have been in contact with him to make it clear that he is welcome. Federer has not taken action for over a year and he did not want to rush his return. That is why he chooses Doha.”
Roger Federer stopped playing after the 2020 Australian Open.
‘Wildcard for Haase is a kind of thank you’
Every disadvantage has its advantage, because due to the series of cancellations, Dutch players can still participate in the main tournament with Robin Haase and Botic van de Zandschulp. It will be his thirteenth participation for 33-year-old Haase, passing Jan Siemerink as the player with the most performances at the ABN AMRO tournament.
“The wildcard for Robin is also a bit of a thank you for his services in all those years,” explains Krajicek. “He always shows 100 percent commitment in Rotterdam and has also been important for the tournament outside the court. I always like to see Dutch players in the main schedule. It’s nice that I can still keep that ‘promise’.”
Haase will immediately take action on the first day of the ABN AMRO tournament on Monday. He takes on Murray, the winner of 2009, in the first round. Van de Zandschulp starts with a match against the Croat Borna Coric (ATP-26). The only Dutch ATP tournament lasts until Sunday.
Source site www.nu.nl