Optima Open 2014 report

Optima Open

I spent a day in Knokke-Heist, Belgium, last month to attend the third day of the Optima Open, the Belgian stop of the ATP Champions Tour. It was the second seniors event I attended this year after the World Tennis Day showdown in London last March (find all the recap here).

Situated in the heart of the country’s Flemish-speaking Flanders region, Knokke-Heist is considered to be one of Belgium’s most exclusive and affluent seaside resorts. Knokke-Heist is the perfect base for exploring the enchanting Zwin region, on the Belgian-Dutch border.

Knokke

Knokke

Knokke

The tournament has the typical senior event format: 2 groups of 3 players, with the winners of each group facing each other in final. This year the Optima Open also featured a star-studded mixed doubles exhibition event: with three former world number one, winnners of 20 singles Grand Slam titles in total, and tennis’ greatest entertainer, Mansour Bahrami completing the foursome.

Group A Group B Special guests
Fabrice Santoro Xavier Malisse Kim Clijsters
Greg Rusedski Goran Ivanisevic Monica Seles
Henri Leconte Pat Cash John McEnroe
Mansour Bahrami
Sabine Appelmans
Dominique Monami

All results on the official website (Malisse beat Santoro in the final)

Optima Open

Optima Open

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John McEnroe

Enjoy these exclusive pictures of Pat Cash and Todd Martin win over the McEnroe brothers in the Men’s Champions Doubles final:

Cash/Martin vs McEnroe/McEnroe

Cash/Martin vs McEnroe/McEnroe

Cash/Martin vs McEnroe/McEnroe

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Marion Bartoli

In the players’ box, in the Royal Box, in the commentary box or on the courts, former champions were everywhere!

2-time Wimbledon champion Stefan Edberg, Roger Federer’s coach:

Stefan Edberg

3-time champion Boris Becker, now Novak Djokovic coach:

Boris Becker

Amélie Mauresmo, Andy Murray’s new coach and winner in 2006:

Wimbledon 2014

Sue Barker:

Sue Barker

John McEnroe and Tim Henman:

Wimbledon 2014

Ion Tiriac and Ilie Nastase:

Wimbledon 2014

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Carlos Moya

3 former Roland Garros champions and a former Australian Open runner-up were on Court 1 on Thursday for a fun Legends doubles match.

The beautiful Court 1 – nicknamed the “Bullring” because of its circular shape – is a favorite among serious tennis fans because of its relatively small size and feeling of close proximity to the action.
The Court number 1 has been the scene of some stunning French Open upsets, such as unseeded Gustavo Kuerten‘s 3rd-round victory over Thomas Muster in 1997, on his way to his first of three Roland Garros titles; and Gabriela Sabatini‘s defeat – after a 6-1, 5-1 lead and five match points – to Mary Joe Fernandez in the 1993 quarterfinals. It was also the site of Marat Safin’s famous “dropped pants” match against Felix Mantilla in 2004.

Sadly, court number one will be destroyed. One more proof that decision-makers have no idea what fans like and what makes the beauty of Roland Garros. More informations on Roland Garros stadium modernization.

Court 1

Court 1

Long rallies at the net, jokes, that match was great fun for players and spectators alike:

Court 1

Albert Costa

Carlos Moya

Albert Costa is currently coaching Feliciano Lopez, Thomas Enqvist is Fernando Verdasco’s coach and Carlos Moya is now Spain’s Davis Cup team captain, but I have no idea what Gaston Gaudio has been up to since his retirement, if you have any info, leave a comment below, thanks!

Enjoy more pictures:

Carlos Moya and Thomas Enqvist

They played at Roland Garros a few years ago, they are now back in Paris as coaches, TV commentators or are taking part to the Legends trophy, and with this new trend of great champions turning to coaching, there’s plenty of past champions to see around the grounds at Roland Garros.

6-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker, coach of Novak Djokovic:

Boris Becker

Novak Djokovic and Boris Becker

Goran Ivanisevic, quarterfinalist in 1990, the year he beat then world No 1 Stefan Edberg in the first round. He now coaches Marin Cilic:

Goran Ivanisevic

Becker, Cilic, Ivanisevic, Gasquet, Mathieu

Sergi Bruguera, winner in 1993 and 1994, coach of Richard Gasquet:

Sergi Bruguera and Goran Ivanisevic

Bruguera and Gasquet

Magnus Norman, finalist in 2000, coach of Stanislas Wawrinka:

Magnus Norman

Michael Chang, winner in 1989 and coach of Kei Nishikori:

Michael Chang

Martina Hingis, finalist in 1997 and 1999. She coaches Sabine Lisicki:

Martina Hingis

Sébastien Grosjean, semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2001, coach of Richard Gasquet:

Sébastien Grosjean

Fabrice Santoro, doubles finalist in 2004, interviews players after their matches:

Roger Federer

Kim Clijsters and Martina Navratilova, playing doubles together:

Kim Clijsters and Martina Navratilova

Kim Clijsters

Martina Navratilova

Kim Clijsters and Martina Navratilova

Iva Majoli, Roland Garros champion in 1997:

Iva Majoli

Anastasia Myskina, first ever female Russian player to win a Grand Slam title (Roland Garros in 2004):

Anastasia Myskina

Former world number one Lindsay Davenport and Mary Joe Fernandez, 1993 French Open runner-up:

Lindsay Davenport

Mary Joe Fernandez

1998 Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna:

Jana Novotna

Natasha Zvereva, runner-up in that famous 1988 final against Steffi Graf:

Natasha Zvereva

Nathalie Tauziat and Conchita Martinez practising on court 15, they play the Legends Trophy together:

Nathalie Tauziat

Conchita Martinez

Martinez is now captain of the Spanish Fed Cup team. Tauziat is the former coach of Eugénie Bouchard (below a picture of them two at Roland Garros last year), she now coaches Aleksandra Wozniak:

Nathalie Tauziat and Eugénie Bouchard

Gaston Gaudio, surprise winner in 2004:

Gaston Gaudio

Thomas Enqvist and Carlos Moya, Roland Garros champion in 1998:

Carlos Moya and Thomas Enqvist

Albert Costa, winner in 2002. He is currently coaching Feliciano Lopez.

Albert Costa

Cédric Pioline interviewing Maria Sharapova after her victory over Eugénie Bouchard:

Maria Sharapova

Manolo Santana

Before the Madrid tournament had officially started, five Grand Slam champions – Manolo Santana, Adriano Panatta, Ilie Nastase, Jan Kodes and Andres Gomez – took the court to play an exhibition with wooden racquets. Enjoy a few pictures from the match:

Madrid tournament director and first Spaniard to win a Grand Slam, Manolo Santana:

Manolo Santana

Manolo Santana y Jan Kodes

French Open and Wimbledon champion, Jan Kodes:

Jan Kodes

US Open and French Open champion, Ilie Nastase:

Ilie Nastase

Adriano Panatta, the only player to beat Bjorn Borg at Roland Garros, and he did it twice:

Adriano Panatta

1990 French open champion Andres Gomez:

Andrés Gómez

Manolo Santana, Ilie Nastase, Adriano Panatta, Andrés Gómez y Jan Kodes

Photo credit: Davinia