Split Open 2021: 2nd Edition of ATP Challenger Tournament to Launch in April

Daniela Rogulj

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With original plans to launch in April 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the new Split Open sporting event to the end of September and the beginning of October last year – though changing the term did not seem to affect its success. 

“The tournament returns to its original date, April. This is an extremely attractive date because this year we will play from April 12 to 18, when there is no other tournament in Europe except ours and the one in Monte Carlo. This also guarantees attractive names that do not enter the Monte Carlo draw,” announced Ismar Moralić, director of the ATP Challenger in Split, for Slobodna Dalmacija.

Was it difficult to arrange a second tournament in just half a year?

“Well, not really. It is always difficult to put together the first edition; later, the story is practically arranged, the details are corrected. The financial situation caused by the pandemic is no better than last year. In short, we are working with what we have, and we believe that we will once again make the tournament at the highest possible level, which will be recognized by the audience again.”

What were the reactions after the tournament last year?

“I believe that the presence of the audience is the best answer to that question. Some looked for a ticket for days. From the first day, the tournament was extremely well attended. We believe that we would have sold out the maximum capacity of the club in normal conditions. Certainly in this context, the praise of ATP should be mentioned, who themselves, in addition to exceptional organization, also emphasized that the tournament was recognized by the audience, which surprised them, especially at this pandemic time. We are just sorry that the tournament was not covered a little better by some national media, especially HRT, which did not even come close to fulfilling what they announced. When two Croatian players rank the best in their careers and enter the semifinals of one Challenger, the only Croatian professional ATP category tournament that year, and national television does not recognize it, it is clear that someone in the editorial office did not do their job well. I hope that they learned from their mistakes and that they will stick to what was agreed this year because the subscription is paid by everyone, including those who love tennis and those who play it.”

What does it mean that the tournament is during the same week as Monte Carlo?

“It’s extremely good for the tournament. The Monte Carlo draw is 64, which means that all tennis players who want to play in a European country have the opportunity to play only with us. I believe that we will see a certain number of players from the top 100 in Split. Especially if we take into account that last year we had a stronger draw than some tournaments from the higher category, i.e., the official calendar of the highest category.”

Are there any confirmed names yet?

“It is too early to talk about that two months before the tournament; let’s leave something for later. I will say that we guarantee the Split audience a strong tournament this year as well and that we do not doubt the response of the local fans, which, we believe, is the most important thing for the audience.”

Would it be useful to open the stands, at least partly?

“Unfortunately, there are things that even we directors cannot influence. Tennis is played primarily for the sake of the audience, as are all sports. A tennis stadium where there are only two players in the presence of a referee is an incredibly lonely sports arena. We see what is happening now in Australia, where a lockdown is being introduced in the middle of the tournament. We hope that two months in the case of this pandemic is a very long period, that things will turn out best for the tournament, the audience, and the players themselves,” concluded Moralić.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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