The Webers Believed In Magic - The Story Of The Gerry Weber Open - UBITENNIS
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The Webers Believed In Magic – The Story Of The Gerry Weber Open

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Written by Mark Winters

 

Twenty-four years ago Gerry and Ralf Weber believed in magic and launched the Gerry Weber Open in the small German town of Halle. Read why the now ATP World Tour 500 series event continues to be a magical experience.

Halle, Westfalia, Germany – In 1965, the Lovin’ Spoonful released “Do You Believe in Magic.” It was the lead song, written by John Sebastian, on the folk-rock album of the same name. Twenty-eight years later, Gerry Weber and his son, Ralf, believed in magic. They launched the Gerry Weber Open in 1993.

Initially, an International Series event, it has become an ATP World Tour 500 series championship. Deciding to hold a grass court tournament in Germany was an intriguing idea. Staging it in Halle, the town in Westfalia that can’t be found on a map and is not to be confused with the Halle in the former East German Republic or even the Suesser See lakeside resort, seemed to be “Are you out of your mind?” curious.

But, as John Sebastian wrote:

“…I’ll tell you about the magic and it’ll free your soul
But it’s like tryin’ to tell a stranger ’bout rock and roll
If you believe in magic, don’t bother to choose
If it’s jug band music or rhythm and blues
Just go and listen, it’ll start with a smile…”

The Gerry Weber Open, which is now 24-years old takes place from June 13th until June 19th, has become a premier pre-Wimbledon warm-up showcase. This year’s draw features Roger Federer of Switzerland, Kei Nishikori of Japan, Dominic Thiem of Austria, Tomáš Berdych of the Czech Republic, David Goffin of Belgium, David Ferrer of Spain, Viktor Troicki of Serbia and Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany. These performers are the Top 8 seeds for 2016. When it comes to Gerry Weber Open titles, Federer is the grass surface master, having won the singles eight times. Berdych was the champion in 2007 while Kohlschreiber took the trophy home in 2011.

Magic is the perfect word to use to describe the essence of Halle. Weber, who built his clothing manufacturing business in the area and became beyond successful financially, believed in the people of the town. They, in turn, feel that the Gerry Weber Open is their tournament and each year they must join forces to show the tennis world that the best grass court tennis is played there.

The attitude is clearly justified based on what they and the Webers have accomplished. Because rain is a match June, the Center Court has a closeable roof (the first tennis facility with one), which means a sudden downpour doesn’t stop play. The practice courts are also covered so that competitors don’t have to while away time, waiting for a break in the showers. Add the fact that a state-of-the-art sports park/hotel/multi-purpose complex was built a good lob’s distance from the main court only substantiates the specialness of the facility. So does the fact that the Center Court grass is raised on palates on the grounds during the year; then prior the start of the tournament, they are moved, in sections, into position creating a surface that appears to be truly magic.

Borrowing again from the poet Sebastian:

“…Yeah, believe in the magic of a young girl’s soul
Believe in the magic of rock and roll
Believe in the magic that can set you free…”

And the Webers certainly believed. Magic now waits for the first ball to glide over the net, showing that it still lives in Halle.

The main draw

Projected quarter-finals

(1) Roger Federer SUI Vs (5) David Goffin BEL
(2) Kei Nishikori JAP Vs (6) David Ferrer ESP
(3)Diminic Thiem AUT Vs (8) Philipp Kohlschreiber GER
(4) Tomas Berdych CZE Vs (7) Viktor Troicki SRB

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Dominic Thiem rallies from one set down against Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the final at Thiem’s 7 in Kitzbuhel

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Dominic Thiem came back from losing the first set to beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-2 en route to reaching the final at the Thiem’s 7 tournament. Thiem earned two breaks in the third and fifth games to race out to a 4-1 lead. Bautista Agut got both breaks back in the sixth and eighth games to draw level to 4-4 forcing the match to the tie-break. The Spanish player won the tie-break 7-5 to take the opening set.

 

Thiem slowly found his rhythm again in the second set and earned two break points in the fourth game but he was not able to convert them. The home star dropped only two points on his serve until the end of the second set and converted two of the three break points to clinch the second set 6-2.

Thiem earned a break in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead and held on his next service games. The tournament organizer sealed the third set 6-2 with his double break with a blistering return on the match point in the eighth game securing his spot in the final. Thiem will face either Andrey Rublev or Matteo Berrettini in the final.

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Former Roland Garros champions and five top 20 players to highlight a great edition of the Ladies Open in Palermo

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The Ladies Open WTA International in Palermo will be the first tournament to be held next August since last February.

 

The Italian tournament will feature a great line-up which includes two confirmed past Roland Garros champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Ostapenko and five top 20 players. There is a good chance that 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep could be added in the field.

“We are glad about Simona Halep’s great interest in Palermo Ladies Open. We will be waiting for her at the Country Club for an historic edition of the Palermo tournament. We have been in contact with Halep’s manager for some time. We have been talking for days about her potential participation in Palermo. She is one of the best players in the world and her presence would contribute to make an already high-level tournament extrahordinary. We will leave our doors open to her for as long as possible, as well as for other top ten players that will want to resume their season in Palermo”, said tournament’s CEO Oliviero Palma.

The other stars who have signed up to the Ladies Open are 2019 Roland Garros champion Marketa Vondrousova, two Grand Slam semifinalists Elise Mertens (2018 Australian Open) and Anastasija Sevastova (2018 US Open), Aryna Sabalenka (winner at the Wuhan Open in 2018 and 2019, WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in 2019 and Doha in 2020) and Elina Rybakina (winner in Hobart and finalist in St. Petersburg and Dubai in 2020), Dayana Yastremska (winner of three tournaments in Hong Kong in 2018, Thailand and Strasbourg in 2019).

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Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova lift the titles in Perugia

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Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova won the Zzz Quill Tennis Tour in Perugia. Sonego followed up his Italian title won the previous week in Todi with a 3-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 win over Croatia’s Viktor Galovic (world number 269 and number 7 seed) in the final of the Perugia tournament.

 

“Galovic started very well. It was difficult to adjust to his game and improve during the match. I maintained the right attitude and I managed to win the title. I enjoyed two fantastic weeks in Todi and Perugia. This confirmed my good work in training in the past two weeks. I gave my best and I am confident for the rest of the season”, said Sonego.

World number 117 Liudmila Samsonova won the women’s title came back from one set down to beat world number 307 Stefania Rubini 4-6 6-4 7-6 (8-6) in the women’s final after saving two match points.

“I won a very tough final with a lot of ups and downs. I am happy that I played many matches. It was one of my goals on the eve of the tournament. I showed that I am able to keep the level of my tennis high, when I play focused”, said Samsonova.   

 

 

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