As has been the custom since 2001, in February the ATP circuit will land again in Buenos Aires. The Argentina Open returns in 2022, again on its usual date -in 2021 it did it in March, due to the changes in the tour calendar due to the pandemic- and it does so with news. The main name, today, is Juan Martín del Potro, who could sign his return to action, after almost two years of absence, on the brick dust of the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club. And another possibility: the category jump of the contest, from the 250 series that it had since its inception, to the 500 level; an old wish of the organization that could come true as of 2023.
In the case of Del Potro, on the tournament side they already have a special invitation (wild card) reserved for him until the last minute, or when the player communicates his decision. A few days ago, on his social networks, the former world number 3 said: “I continue training with everything, I have better days than others, but always with the hope of returning to the field at the beginning of next year. It would be very special to return to Buenos Aires and then also play in Rio. I work with enthusiasm and effort, as you know, so that we can meet here. In the next few weeks I will tell you how I evolve ”. The Tandilense even participated in the meeting held by Guillermo Coria, the brand new Davis Cup captain, along with the main tennis players in our country.
The Argentina Open will start in seven weeks. Del Potro will not be going on the Australia tour, and It will be seen if in Buenos Aires he puts an end to the longest absence of his career. Their last official match was played on June 19, 2019, exactly ago 18 months, on the lawn of Queen’s, in London, before Denis Shapovalov, where the ailment in his right knee worsened, for which he was operated on four times; the last, last March, when he was operated on by the Argentine doctor Jorge Chahla, in Chicago.
“Whether Del Potro plays in Buenos Aires depends on his physical condition, it is a decision that he has to make. Hopefully he recovers to play here, in Rio and the rest of the year. The only thing missing is for him to tell us that he is here to play”, Expressed Martín Jaite, director of the Argentina Open. Logically, Delpo’s participation would greatly increase expectations to see the 2009 US Open champion and 2016 Davis Cup winner. Del Potro, 33, only played once for the Buenos Aires ATP: it was in February 2006, when he barely He was 17 and was just beginning his career, and fell to the Spanish Juan Carlos Ferrero in the first wheel. Then he played Davis Cup series -the last one in our country was at Parque Roca, in September 2012, for the semifinals, against the Czech Republic- and some exhibitions, such as the one he played against David Ferrer in December 2016. At the end In 2019 everything was ready to play against Roger Federer at the Mary Terán de Weiss stadium, but the injury that he was already dragging in the knee left him without the possibility of measuring himself again with the Swiss.
Another novelty is the chance for the Argentine tournament to grow and raise its category, from level 250 to 500, the same as the Rio de Janeiro tournament today, which is played the following week. The ATP established the need for changes to the calendar, and this season some tournaments are expected to have an upgrade. The Buenos Aires contest is backed by history, its continuity in the South American calendar and various awards received by the organization. But there will also be rivals from other cities and other continents. Right now, the circuit has these ATP 500s: Rio de Janeiro, Rotterdam, Dubai, Acapulco, Barcelona, Halle, London (Queen’s), Hamburg, Washington and Vienna, and it remains to be seen what will happen with the tournaments in Beijing, Tokyo and Basel. , canceled by the pandemic. Possibly Buenos Aires will have to compete against a city in Asia and another in Europe.
Martín Hughes, executive director and one of the partners of Tennium, the company that owns the week in which the Buenos Aires ATP is played, is optimistic. “We have good chances, I am convinced that we can achieve it. From the beginning we said that we had a tournament here that is strong as an oak tree, and that is how it was demonstrated. As part of the idea of developing tennis, we have a project to grow this tournament, from 250 to 500. It is a question that arises from the ATP, which opens the doors and there are several tournaments and cities that are running. Obviously we are not going to be alone, but we are doing very well. We believe that we are good candidates and we have been fulfilling the steps, “he told LA NACION. How much could you have an answer? There is not really a certain date, because the ATP usually has several meetings during the year, but if the idea is that these changes take effect from 2023, the promoted venues should know the decision before June or next July.
What does it mean to go from level 250 to 500? In economic terms, it is a very important jump in the prize money: from the 600,000 dollars that the ATP of Buenos Aires currently pays, it should go to about US $ 1,800,000, triple in terms of prize money. This implies the need to have sponsors with greater weight, of course. Competitively, it ensures the landing of several top-level players. While they are not mandatory like Grand Slams and Masters 1000s, each Top 30 must play up to four ATP 500s during the season. A proof of the change can be given by the Acapulco tournament, which grew exponentially in its names from its promotion in category.
For now, the Argentina Open 2022 already has some confirmed names: Dominic Thiem, 15th in the ranking and champion in Buenos Aires in 2016 and 2018, and of course, Diego Schwartzman, the current champion. “I feel like I’ve been a part of this tournament since I was little. Many tournaments on the tour were changing places, but this event was never interrupted or stopped, and it turns 22 years old, and it is a tournament that was a big part of my growth. I have fulfilled dreams, others to fulfill, and I return here because it is the most beautiful tournament there is. It is difficult to have tournaments of this caliber, but it is enjoyed a lot, and although it can grow, as it is, it is already spectacular ”, expresses Peque, a must-see at the February event. Other names that appear are the Italian Lorenzo Sonego (27th in the ranking) and the Frenchman Benoit Paire (46th). The final list will be known on January 10 next.
As for the guests, in addition to the wild card planned for Del Potro, it is expected that all will be for Argentine players, except for one capital exception at the last minute. We will have to wait a few days to see the final cut, but new figures such as Juan Manuel Cerúndolo and Sebastián Báez, who have come to participate in the ATP Under 21 Masters, are with a ranking that does not ensure direct entry, for which will be a matter of waiting. For the pageant 100 percent capacity is planned, according to said Minister Matías Lammens.
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Argentina Open: the possibility of becoming an ATP 500 and the wait for Juan Martín del Potro