ATP players rally around Astana

06.10.2022    Views: 352
Source: KTF press-service
Greg Garber

When ATP players met with the media covering this Astana Open their overwhelming praise of the first-time 500 event was universal. No complaints at all – well, one, actually.

«No luggage,» Botic Van de Zandschulp said before the tournament, laughing. «But I’m managing.

«The city is pretty new. Big buildings, a lot of space here. It’s really very nice. Enjoying it so far.»

Van de Zandschulp’s airline, of course, was responsible for the lack of luggage, but the Kazakhstan tournament consistently has earned high marks. Previously, a Challenger, dating back to 2007, it became an ATP Tour 250 event in 2020 and 2021.

The elevation to 500 status brought a stellar field that included six of the Top 10 players in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, including World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and 21-time Grand Slam singles champion Novak Djokovic.

Here’s what some of the leading players had to say about this week’s Astana Open:

Stefanos Tsitsipas – The ATP got creative here, bringing tennis to new places. I’m very open-minded to this. I’m glad this week that it is in Astana, which is a new place for me, a new discovery. I feel like the fans have embraced this. I have signed so many autographs in the last couple of days, which shows the fans are excited to have tennis brought here.

I’ve heard a lot of about Kazakhstan, the culture and the history. I’m very happy that I’m able to be here and witness it. It’s the perfect place to have some new ideas and flourish and come to life. I’ve never heard the language, and it’s made me open up my ear a bit. I do like changes, like to experience new things.

Andrey Rublev – First of all, it’s really great that for the first time Astana has a 500 event. With the experience and the power they can give to the tournament the organization will be on a high level. Everything is prefect.

Felix Auger-Aliassime – It looks like a brand-new city. The infrastructures look really good. I’ve been to Kazakhstan before, Almaty, for a Challenger [February 2018], and this city is above it. The people have been very nice, kind, welcoming. Coming into the airport, the service was unbelievable. People taking care of the bags and helping us in every way possible, having drinks and snacks ready. At the hotel, it’s been amazing. Service on site is fantastic.

You just feel like the people here, they’re happy to have this event. They want to put on a good event – so players will have a good memory of their time here. I always love to see that.

If I was going to make an event, I’d want people to have the best memory they can have of the event and also for the people of Astana and Kazakhstan, and that all these big names, these international players, they go back home and they have good things to say about the place.

Daniil Medvedev – Talking about such tournaments as this, there are a lot of guys I played juniors together with, practiced back in the time. We’re all here laughing, telling the stories, remembering the [old] times. Definitely feels great to be back here.

Botic Van de Zandschulp – I think the [main draw rankings] cut was 39 or something. Yeah, pretty high cut for a 500. Like in Rotterdam, the field is very strong. I have a feeling the indoor 500s are really nice tournaments, strong tournaments – guys really want to play it. Same as here in Astana. Almost every guy in the top 30 came here.
Tougher for me, but it’s always nice to play those guys and to try your best against them.

Adrian Mannarino -- I was here two years ago [and reached the final versus John Millman], and I really like this tournament. It’s beautiful, the organization is good. Yes, all good so far.

Karen Khachanov – Last time I was here was in 2015 and it’s been changed a lot. A lot of high buildings – they really built up the city a lot. I feel a warm welcome here whenever I come. The people are really nice. I think they really do everything for the players, from pickup to the hotel, the court, the site.
They always ask, `What do you want? What do you need?’ And this is really like a pleasure to be playing tournaments like that. I wish we could have more on tour.

Hubert Hurkacz – I think the organization could be one of the best I’ve seen this year. I think they are doing a great job. The draw is definitely packed. I’m excited to be here.

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