Argentine tennis enjoyed a historic week at the beginning of November. For the first time in 34 years, a WTA-caliber tournament was played on national soil: the Argentina Open, WTA 125 category, took place at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, featured ten local players in the main draw and had as champion the Hungarian Anna Bondar, successor none other than Gabriela Sabatini, who had won the last edition of the contest in 1987.
Company property Tennium, like the men’s Argentina Open, the women’s tournament sets up the start of an expansion plan for women’s tennis for the region. “It had been so many years that there had been a tournament that gave the girls a chance to compete. To have been able to materialize it in such a short time is incredible. We want to do something bigger than this: be in four or five countries in the region, with two or three tournaments per country, although not everything can be done from one year to the next “, explained the Uruguayan Martín Hughes, executive of the company based in Barcelona, in dialogue with Página / 12.
The presence of the WTA circuit in Argentina offers an unbeatable chance for local players, most of whom do not have the resources to leave the country to compete and score points. An eloquent example: the Mar del Plata Solana Sierra, achieved her first WTA win and climbed almost 200 positions in the ranking without the need to go outside. Hughes is clear: the idea is to solidify the Buenos Aires tournament together with Montevideo -has been played since November 15-, expand the base of competition in South America and get to have several WTAs in consecutive weeks. The tandem formed by Buenos Aires and Montevideo has guaranteed, in effect, three years of organization in charge of Tennium, which also intends to add a few more events starting in 2022, even in Argentina.
“We’re going to put another tournament in the middle of the two to do the full tour. Ideally, it will be a one-month tour. You also have to evaluate if this is the best time to do it; There is another time that is good, which is more at the beginning of the year, between March and April, when the weather is good. In the region it is important that everything can be aligned for the planning of the players. That helps you to bring more level tennis players. The idea is to establish five, six, seven WTA tournaments“, the Uruguayan added.
The advantage that the WTA of Buenos Aires has, Hughes understands, is that the company already comes with the reflection of organizing, since 2018, the traditional ATP 250 of Buenos Aires: “Come with the men’s Argentina Open on the back it helps us a lot. I always say that the Argentina Open, ATP is a tree with tremendous roots that make it grow a lot. The case of the WTA is the opposite: we have just planted a seed that must be watered … “, he said.
An ATP 500 in Buenos Aires?
“I think we have a chance to take the tournament to the ATP 500 category,” the company executive blurted out. And he explained why they aspire to achieve this level up: “The Argentina Open has been five years since we got hold of it; we want and seek to enlarge it. There is always the issue of being able to take it to category 500 or modify the surface to a hard court. It is necessary to look for the return. I think we have a lot of chances. “
It is clear that the change does not depend on Tennium but on ATP, the governing body of the circuit, which after the pandemic seeks to redefine its strategy with modifications in the calendar. The Buenos Aires tournament, the fourth oldest tournament in the world -data 1893-, runs ahead according to Hughes’s gaze: “There are several ATP 250 tournaments for which the ATP generates a upgrade to redesign the calendar. We are attentive to what may happen; Argentina will always be a candidate for history. We are going to be headfirst into the process. It would be necessary to invest a little in infrastructure but the automatic increment would be the prize money, that can even be quadrupled and would serve to bring in better players. “
Goal Del Potro
Since Juan Martín Del Potro returned to the US Open to play an exhibition with John McEnroe, on September 7, the door was left open. As he faces the last part of the recovery after the fourth surgery on the right knee, and after more than two years away from the courts, the Tandilense threw eloquent words: “In Argentina I played very little; there are alternatives that touch the emotional side and I’m going to go there ”. His return in 2022 would, in effect, include a “close to home” tour of clay pigeons.
Those statements from New York had an immediate rebound in these latitudes. There were already conversations about the Córdoba Open, the other ATP 250 in the country that will be the week before Buenos Aires, although there are signs of a probable appearance at the Argentina Open.
From Tennium’s offices there were no statements in this regard, but, as Page / 12 learned, Del Potro wants to be in the tournament and the organizers want the Tandilense to be there. It all depends, of course, on the evolution of your knee. Beyond the fact that at this time there are no conversations, because the WTA in Buenos Aires has just ended, the women’s tournament itself gave a clue: among the “gold” category sponsors it emerged a personal sponsor of the former world number three.
Del Potro played six times officially in Argentina. Only in 2006 did it the ATP of Buenos Aires, when I was 17 years old: received an invitation and lost in the first round to Spanish Juan Carlos Ferrero in three sets. The other five corresponded to Davis Cup series.
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An ATP 500, the expansion of the WTA and Del Potro’s goal | The challenges of the organizers of the Argentina Open