GENEVA, May 23, 2015
The first edition of the Geneva Open will end this Saturday. After the tournament had been moved from Düsseldorf’s Rochusclub to Western Switzerland, it has become the country’s third event on the ATP World Tour calendar following Gstaad and Basel. The contract lasts for three years. Ion Tiriac, who also holds the license of the tournaments in Madrid in Bucharest, is the owner along with former German top ten player Rainer Schüttler. Tiriac knows how to make money with tennis events. When Geneva was part of the ATP Tour for the first time with the inaugural tournament taking place in 1980, the prize money was US-$ 75,000. This year it has increased to € 494,300 plus about one million for starting fees. Tiriac took the TV-contract from Düsseldorf to Geneva. Eurosport broadcasts a total of 70 hours during the week. The manager on site is Gérard Tsobanian. The Romanian, also CEO of the Mutua Madrid Open, is the head of the organization. A former player from Lausanne, Thierry Grin, is the tournament director and there is also Marc Rosset. The Olympic gold medallist from 1992 is mentioned as Directeur sportif.
“We did all of this in record time. We had to convince sponsors and everything in only five months,” says Thierry Grin. “We worked very well with the club and the authorities. With more time, the next edition will be even more successful, but the feedback from the ATP has already been positive.”
COO Gerard Tsobanian is also smiling: “Gentlemen Tiriac and Schuettler, the franchise owners of the tournament, are very satisfied, I think. I understand the disappointment of the spectators regarding a final without Wawrinka. But the golden rule organizing a tournament is not to rely on the presence of a certain player. I learned that with Ion Tiriac when we launched the Madrid tournament. Success must go beyond the purely sporting aspect.”
The tournament is held at the famous TC Genève, a pretty glamorous venue situated in the Parc des Eaux-Vives featuring a luxury hotel and restaurant, housed in a 18th century building. During the week of the tournament, it serves as VIP area. “The costs for that? Expensive, very expensive. Let’s say, we could have had other players in the top 10 with this budget,” Tsobanian told with a smile.
The tennis venue itself is still developable. Centre Court has a seating capacity of 3,700, therewith situated in the lower area in terms of ATP requirements. But first of all, these numbers of spectators have to come. People in Geneva are said to be spoiled. Consequently, the catering is exclusive and the level of prices pretty high. The latter may produce a deterrent effect on potential foreign visitors but the tournament’s budget of three million Swiss Francs was assured, even before the first ticket has been sold.
“There were many more tickets sold than people in the stands and the players are delighted to be here. Marin Cilic told me that he felt like home, almost as if he was on vacation. We offer great services. I am talking about the on-court conditions and the five star hotel,” Grin added and is looking forward to the second edition next year.