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How Budapest Lost Two but Gained One Great Tennis Event

Novak Djokovic Australian Open 2011

Its the Australian open and luckily for us, more and more matches end up being played for 4-5 hours which means we don’t have to wake up early to watch the game.

Novak Djokovic Australian Open 2011

Copyright © Extradeportes

Did you see the match between Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka on January 20th 2012? Yes, both Eastern Europeans, Wawrinka at least with his name – he lives in Switzerland, though. The “another-epic-marathon” match lasted couple minutes into its 5th hour (!).

Or maybe the day before, the epic game between Gilles Simon and Gaël Monfils this weekend January 19th? (6 : 4) (6 : 4) (4 : 6) (1 : 6) (8 : 6). It was a very exciting match with a 71-shot rally and both players totally exhausted. It lasted for 4 hours and 43 minutes, and where afterwards the players commented that during the game they thought they’re dying after only 2 sets.

If you were lucky, you could see these two guys play in Budapest not too long ago as well as other great tennis players.

There used to be two professional ATP tournaments and they were both called Budapest Challenger. One of them was held in September each year from 1986 on. The other one started in 1994 and it was usually held in May. You could see Carlos Moyá, Novak Djokovic, Janko Tipsarević, Petr Korda, Jarkko Nieminen, Radek Štěpánek etc. play. Both took place at the same venue: the Római Teniszakadémia.

[googlemap src=”https://maps.google.com/maps?q=R%C3%B3mai+Teniszakad%C3%A9mia,+Budapest,+Kir%C3%A1lyok+%C3%BAtja,+Hungary&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=47.584052,19.065657&spn=0.009379,0.022123&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=44.879582,90.615234&oq=r%C3%B3mai+tenisza&hq=R%C3%B3mai+Teniszakad%C3%A9mia,&hnear=Budapest,+Kir%C3%A1lyok+%C3%BAtja,+Hungary&t=h&z=16″ width=”425″ height=”350″ ]

Yes, as you can see, it is right next to the Danube. Dangerously so. In 2006, the flood washed away the courts.

Budapest Tennis Court under water

Copyright © Msoos (wikimedia)

Unfortunately for us, nobody “chipped in” to save the day and apparently, the event just ceased to exist.

From 2006 the Budapest Challengers were replaced in the ATP Challenger Series by USTA LA Tennis Open and WOW Cafe Challenger in New Orleans, interestingly enough this was just a year after the horrible flood in New Orleans that happened in 2005. The irony of both tournaments is, they are both closed for couple of years now.

A couple of years had to pass until ATP stars came to Budapest to play again.


Enter Tennis Classics

The show(business) must go on, so Budapest created the event which didn’t quite make it to ATP but is definitely greater fun.

The games at Tennis Classics (held annually since 2008) are obviously less fierce and serious overall than any ATP match; but much more entertaining than most of them and brings more stars than a normal ATP tournament in Budapest could ever hope. Last year Gilles Simon played against Janko Tipsarević, in 2011 it was Gaël Monfils against Fernando Verdasco. In 2010 Robin Söderling played against Tomáš Berdych.

And there are always some older “retired” top players like: Borg, McEnroe, Becker, Wilander, Lendl, Ivanišević, Moyá and many others.

Very impressive list. And let’s not forget the great entertainer Mansour Bahrami – a regular guest at Tennis Classics. Check him out here:

And if you are into tennis, you definitely should check out the Budapest Grand Prix as well, a WTA tour held in the summer. Some great players like Jelena Janković, Sara Errani, Roberta Vinci, Alizé Cornet and Patty Schnyder were here.

It is held in the same place where the Budapest Challengers were, but no worries: according to their homepage they managed to fight off the Danube quite well during the 2010 flood so hopefully the Budapest Grand Prix is here to stay.

About the author

János Gömöri

János lives in Budapest. He is interested in music, history, coding and linguistics.

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