DCSIMG

Tennis champions to serve up Edinburgh showdown

John McEnroe will join Goran Ivanisevic, Tim Henman and Mark Philippoussis at the Champions of Tennis tournament. Picture: Getty

John McEnroe will join Goran Ivanisevic, Tim Henman and Mark Philippoussis at the Champions of Tennis tournament. Picture: Getty

  • by STUART BATHGATE
 

GREG Rusedski and Mark Philippoussis will get the action under way at the Brodies Champions of Tennis tournament this afternoon when they play the first match of the four-day event at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh.

The former Grand Slam finalists will take part in a six-man ATP Champions Tour event along with Goran Ivanisevic, Tim Henman, Carlos Moya and Thomas Enqvist. The other three players involved in the event – John McEnroe, Wayne Ferreira and Mikael Pernfors – will compete in a special Legends event.

For tournament director Viki Mendelssohn, today’s opening session represents the culmination of a year-and-a-half’s work, beginning when she proposed to bid for a leg of the ATP Champions Tour to come to Edinburgh.

“I can hardly believe that 18 months of planning and meetings have come to fruition and we’ll see some of the world’s top players compete again in Edinburgh,” she said yesterday. “John McEnroe is everyone’s hero and I’m thrilled that he’ll be here this week alongside many other household names from the world of tennis.

“I have always loved the game and I have managed many big events in my career; however, this is definitely the biggest and the most personal. It has been a real team effort from the moment I first began to think about staging the event.

“Everyone from the ground staff here at Edinburgh Accies to the volunteers we have recruited to help have been great to work with. So too has our title sponsor, Brodies LLP, who are to be congratulated for their foresight and enthusiasm in becoming involved. We all share the same desire, to have a successful tournament for Edinburgh and Scotland.”

Ferreira and Pernfors play the second match this afternoon, with the session beginning at 2pm. The evening session, which starts at 7pm, sees Henman and Ivanisevic renew a rivalry that memorably included a Wimbledon semi-final that stretched to three days. After that singles match comes the first doubles of the tournament, with Rusedski and Moya taking on Enqvist and Pernfors.

McEnroe, who last played in Edinburgh at Craiglockhart in the late 1980s, will play a doubles match on Friday night, then take on Pernfors in a Saturday afternoon session, which is sold out. Sunday is the busiest of the four days, with the third-versus-fourth play-off starting at 10:30am, McEnroe playing Ferreira at 1pm, and then the Brodies Champions of Tennis Final beginning at 2:30pm. “We do still have some tickets available for most sessions,” Mendelssohn continued. “Saturday is completely sold out. We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone for this inaugural event, and I would encourage those who have been taking some time to decide on coming along to book their tickets now.’

Although there is a chance of rain today, a specially constructed canopy over the court will ensure that the action goes ahead whatever the weather. Those who cannot attend in person will be able to watch the action on the Scottish Television website. Former STV and Sky presenter Gerry McCulloch will commentate along with Marcel Du Coudray, a former South African Davis Cup player and ex-coach of Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko.

“For this inaugural event we have been able to put together an amazing list of sponsors and supporters and we are looking forward to welcoming a wonderful list of players to Scotland, Mendelssohn said.

“To have stv.tv now commit to streaming pictures of the event online, helping to ensure that tennis fans around the world are able to share the excitement, is the final piece of our jigsaw. All we need now is some gorgeous weather, which will help to showcase the event, Edinburgh and Scotland.”

The ATP Champions Tour is a global circuit that reunites some of the most successful players of recent decades. To be a regular member of the tour, players must either have been world No 1, been a Grand Slam singles finalist, or competed in singles for a victorious Davis Cup team.

Each tournament on the circuit is also allowed to nominate two wild cards. Henman and Rusedski are the nominated wild cards in Edinburgh, although Rusedski also qualifies thanks to his appearance in the 1997 US Open final.

The highlight of the tour so far is generally agreed to have been the three meetings in 2008 of McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, the best part of 30 years after they last clashed in the Wimbledon final.

Those two legends of the sport have been joined on the tour by seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras, two-time US Open winner Patrick Rafter, French Open titlist Michael Chang and former World No 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov among others.

• For more details, visit www.championsoftennis.com.

ORDER OF PLAY

Thursday afternoon (2pm)

Greg Rusedski v Mark Philippoussis

Wayne Ferreira v Mikael Pernfors

Thursday evening (7pm)

Tim Henman v Goran Ivanisevic

Rusedski/Carlos Moya v Thomas Enqvist/Pernfors

Friday afternoon (2pm)

Henman v Enqvist

Ferreira/Philippoussis v Ivanisevic/Pernfors

Friday evening (7pm)

Rusedski v Moya

McEnroe/Henman v Ferreira/Philippoussis

Saturday (2pm)

McEnroe v Pernfors

Moya v Philippoussis

Enqvist v Ivanisevic

Sunday

Third/fourth-place play-off (10:30am)

McEnroe v Ferreira (1pm)

Final (2:30pm)

 

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