Mansour Bahrami

The Legends Trophy (Trophée des Légendes) founded in 1997 by Mansour Bahrami brings together twenty-four of history’s greatest champions, grouped according to age in the two men’s draws, and twelve former women’s tennis stars. The event is a great opportunity to watch some former champions play in a friendly and funny atmosphere.
The Trophée des légendes is the unmissable event of the second week at Roland Garros.

Extract from Roland Garros Magazine’s interview with Mansour Bahrami:

RGM: How did you manage to set up the Trophée des Légendes?

To be honest, I pissed off Patrice Clerc, the director of Roland Garros (1984-2000) for three or four years before he accepted to let me organize the tournament. At the start he would tell me: “But you know that your rubbish old people’s tournament won’t work…” But we were playing all around the world, on a real circuit, the “Senior tour”, which had been created by Jimmy Connors in 1994. We were just sad to be left out of a great party which Roland Garros is. So I insisted and he said: “Mansour, I can’t take it anymore, you’re getting on my nerves… Let’s do this once, and maybe you’ll stop breaking my balls!” It was in 1997, and we’re now celebrating the twentieth edition.

RGM: Did it take time for you to completely rule in Patrice Clerc’s favor?

No, not really. There was this one first year, at the start, where two Spaniards were facing in the central court – but I can’t remember who exactly – and at the same time, we were playing a Trophée des légendes match on the Court 1 where we could host 4000 spectators. But the attendance numbers just sky-rocketed. As there wasn’t any ticket office, people were standing in the stairs, it was mad. There must have been 7000 people, with people standing outside waiting for spectators to leave. Meanwhile, there were only 600 spectators on the central court.

RGM: How do you explain the tournament’s success?

It’s pretty simple: the Trophée des légendes enables parents to take their children to tennis matches, and to tell them: “You see, Nastase, the player I’m talking about all day long, well, that’s him… he may be a little slower and fatter, but it’s really him.” (1)

RGM: What’s the atmosphere like during the tournament? Is it more a bunch of veterans gathering up to have a good time, or is it a competition like any other one?

It depends. Personally, I’m always, and I have always been relaxed. What’s important to me is seeing people walking out of the court with smiles on their faces. Others, like John McEnroe, are there to win it. If he loses, he’s just as sad as if he had lost the final of Roland Garros.

RGM: In the end, isn’t the Trophée des légendes one of the last tournaments where you can watch old school tennis, which can be fun but sometimes violent, with very strong personalities, far from today’s modern, muted and codified tennis?

Sometimes, Nastase would leave a tournament with less money than he had when he arrived: the price of his fines was higher than his earnings! I also remember Rod Laver, who would jump over the net to congratulate his opponent after a beautiful point… Do you think that would happen today? No. Why? Because we played at a time when there was no money at stake. We played for fun, and at the end of the tournament, we would win a pair of shoes… So yes it’s true, in a way, the Trophée des légendes enables this “free” spirit to live on in tennis. Today, you earn 4 million dollars if you win a Grand Slam tournament. The stakes are different.

RGM: Do you have a hard time organizing the Trophée des légendes?

Yeah, especially with John McEnroe (laughs). I’ll give you an exemple. One year, he told me that he wouldn’t be able to play the opening match. Of course, he told me that the day before the match. Well, I changed the whole program for the next day, and at midnight, he called me: “Mansour, I’ve thought about it, there is no way that I can play the second match, I’m playing the first one.” Obviously, it’s his way or no way. I had to spend the whole night phoning the others, on French, Swedish, Ecuadorian numbers… you name it! Just because of John’s stubbornness. I’ve recently told him that he couldn’t do that again. But I know he will…

RGM: Are there any favorites this year?

In the “young” category, the Spaniards who have just joined, like Carlos Moya and Juan Carlos Ferrero, are really good. Michaël Llodra could also surprise a few, for his first participation. In the category of players who are older than 45, Goran Ivanisevic and Sergi Bruguera are both equally impressive. But to be fair, we don’t really care about the level of the players. We invite players who are loved by the crowd. I’ve sometimes had to reject some guys who were unpopular.

(1) Nastase is not a very good example as he stopped playing the Trophée at least 5 years ago.
(2) We get his point but seriously, Borg, Connors and McEnroe among others were not playing for fun or for a pair of shoes. They were already signing big contracts. And today’s players don’t earn 4 million dollars for a Roland Garros victory.

Photo credit: Roland Garros Magazine

Read more:
Costa, Moya, Enqvist and Gaudio: fun under the sun
Past champions seen around the grounds at Roland Garros 2014
Roland Garros 2015: Clijsters and Navratilova pair to win the Legends Trophy

Boris Becker

Boris Becker, looking bored during Djokovic second round win over Philipp Kohlschreiber:

Boris Becker

Becker won the Bercy tournament three times in 1986, 1989 and 1992. He was also finalist in 1990 and 1995.

Former world number one Amélie Mauresmo, now Andy Murray’s coach:

Amélie Mauresmo

Amélie Mauresmo

Amélie Mauresmo

Michael Chang watching Kei Nishikori’s second round win over Tommy Robredo, with his wife and eldest daughter. Roland Garros champion in 1989, he reached the semifinals at Bercy 3 times (1991, 1994, 1999).

Michael Chang

Wawrinka’s coach, Magnus Norman. He never got past the second round as a player, but he was Robin Soderling’s coach when he won the title back in 2010.

Magnus Norman

Magnus Norman

Sébastien Grosjean, during Richard Gasquet’s victory over Denis Istomin. He captured the biggest title of his career here in 2001. Only two other French players won the Bercy title: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2008, and Guy Forget in 1991.

Sébastien Grosjean

Nicolas Escudé, coach of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. He won the doubles title with Fabrice Santoro in 2002.

Nicolas Escudé

Tennis greatest entertainer Mansour Bahrami. I had the pleasure to see him once again at the Optima Open last August.

Mansour Bahrami

Arnaud Di Pasquale:

Arnaud Di Pasquale

Also seen (but no pics, sorry): Davis Cup captain Arnaud Clément, Bercy tournament director Guy Forget, and former Bercy tournament director Cédric Pioline.

Sadly, my all-time favorite player Stefan Edberg was not in Paris with the Federer team, but at least I managed to see Marat Safin:

POPB

Enjoy our Bercy 2014 coverage on Tennis Buzz.

Sles, McEnroe, Clijsters and Bahrami

My reports on the Optima Open are finally online! This match took place on Saturday, August 16th (read my complete Optima Open report here).

Last match of the day: a mixed doubles exhibition with Kim Clijsters, Monica Seles, John McEnroe and Mansour Bahrami! It’s always a pleasure to see these great champions play and have fun on court.

Players entering the court:

Warm-up:

4-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters, visibly happy to be on court:

Kim Clijsters and Mansour Bahrami

Kim Clijsters

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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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On May 27, 1987, wild card Eric Winogradsky (No. 152) defeated recent Australian Open champion Stefan Edberg (No.3) 7-6 7-6 7-5 in the second round of the French Open. In this interview, Winogradsky talks about his exploit and tells he would have preferred to win the doubles final with his friend Mansour Bahrami.

Interview by L’Equipe, translation by Tennis Buzz

Q: Did you feel you could beat him?
A: I was in a very good period, I had played really well in the weeks preceding the French Open. My first round victory over the American Marcel Freeman (7-6 7-5 6-3) confirmed my feelings of the moment. The match took place during a rainy Wednesday and was interrupted at 4-4 in the second set. This break made me the greater good because I made ​​some adjustments with my coach Georges Goven. Michel Bouche, who had been my coach for 3 years, started talking about something else than tennis and it made me relax a little.

Q: Why that victory that day?
A: Because there are days when you get to control all the parameters especially on an emotional level. Against Edberg, I played well the big points. He was attacking the net a lot, but so did I. I had the courage to challenge him at the net, because I knew I would have had no chance to beat him by staying at the baseline.

Q: What did that victory change for you?
A: A win like that it’s huge! I was not even in the top 100 and I was 21. French tennis stars were Yannick Noah, Guy Forget, Henri Leconte and Thierry Tulasne. Like other players like Thierry Champion or Tarik Benhabiles I had recently turned pro. So, when you beat a top 10 at Roland Garros… This kind of success, very pleasant at the time, becomes difficult to assume when you have difficulties to confirm.

Q: What does it change today?
Long-term it feels good to win such a match even if it’s not my only victory over a top 10. But instead of defeating Edberg I would have preferred to win the doubles final at Roland Garros 1989 with my friend Mansour Bahrami. It is my biggest disappointment.

Eric Winogradsky reached his best ranking (89) in July 1987. He won two doubles titles but never reached a singles final. He was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s coach during 7 years and now works for the French Tennis Federation.

The talk of the day is of course Ana Ivanovic‘ win over Serena Williams.
According to her coach, Serena blocked her back and neck before her match against Daniela Hantuchova in the third round.
The Serbian reaches the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam for the fisrt time since the 2012 US Open.

A sad end to a terrific tournament for a Casey Dellacqua: she lost the last 8 games of her match against Eugenie Bouchard 6-0. Joining Ivanovic and Bouchard in the quarterfinals are Li Na and Flavia Pennetta.

Australian Open 2014 champion?

  • Serena Williams (49%, 70 Votes)
  • Victoria Azarenka (15%, 21 Votes)
  • Maria Sharapova (12%, 17 Votes)
  • Na Li (9%, 13 Votes)
  • Other (5%, 7 Votes)
  • Caroline Wozniacki (4%, 6 Votes)
  • Jelena Jankovic (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Agniezska Radwanska (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Petra Kvitova (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Sara Errani (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 144

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No surprise in the men’s draw: Novak Djokovic, Stanislas Wawrinka, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych progress to the quarterfinals.

Who will be the 2014 Australian Open champion?

  • Rafael Nadal (33%, 92 Votes)
  • Novak Djokovic (28%, 80 Votes)
  • Roger Federer (27%, 76 Votes)
  • Juan Martin Del Potro (4%, 11 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (4%, 10 Votes)
  • Stanislas Wawrinka (2%, 5 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Other (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Richard Gasquet (0%, 1 Votes)
  • David Ferrer (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 283

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Video highlights:

Tweet of the day: Gisela Dulko

Really happy about her friend’s Flavia Pennetta qualification for the quarterfinals

Video of the day: Henri Leconte and Mansour Bahrami


Matches to follow on Day 8:

Dominika Cibulkova (20) – Maria Sharapova (3)
Sloane Stephens (13) – Victoria Azarenka (2)
Rafael Nadal (1) – Kei Nishikori (16)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (10) – Roger Federer (6)
Agnieszka Radwanska (5) – Garbine Muguruza
Jelena Jankovic (8) – Simona Halep (11)
Andy Murray (4) – Stephane Robert
Grigor Dimitrov (22) – Roberto Bautista Agut