The tennis aristocracy comes to Vienna for the Erste Bank Open tournament.
The Erste Bank Open has a tradition of attracting a high-quality field to its specially laid hard court at the Wiener Stadthalle. At Austria’s biggest tennis tournament, world-class players fight for valuable points for the season-ending World Tour Finals run by the sport’s governing body, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), not to mention €2.5 million in prize money.
The big star this time is world number two Andy Murray, who won Wimbledon this year. Tournament director Herwig Straka says the Scotsman’s commitment to play in Vienna is hugely important for the prestige tournament. It’s been a long season for Murray, and possible Davis Cup appearances mean he has a congested schedule, but as long as injuries don’t get in the way, Straka is certain that Murray will honor his commitment. Murray has a strong relationship with the Erste Bank Open and Vienna and may even bring his wife, Kim, and baby daughter, Sophia. “Kim was here last time,” says Straka, “and they seem to really enjoy the city.”
Straka says the tournament plays a vital role in developing the game in the city, providing role models who can inspire young players and get more people involved in the game. The center court seats 9,000 and is often sold out during the final stages, with fans perched close to the action and free-flowing beer creating an atmosphere closer to the raucous bear-pit enthusiasm of the U.S. Open than the gentility of Wimbledon, especially when local hero Dominic Thiem, the current world number ten, is playing.
Thiem, Austria’s most successful player since Thomas Muster, retired injured at the U.S. Open but is otherwise enjoying the most successful season of his career. He will be highly motivated to make an impact at the Erste Bank Open, which he is playing for the seventh time. Maybe he can make it a golden tennis autumn for home fans?