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"St. Petersburg Open" - one of the major sports events in St. Petersburg
The history of "St. Petersburg Open" has started in 1995. That year the first international ATP Tour tennis tournament took place in St. Petersburg. The city received the right of holding the Tournament after the victory in the ATP Tour contest over Budapest (Hungary) and Graz (Austria).
The Tournament immediately became the important event in the life of the city and the whole country as well. The participants list of the new Tournament was really impressive: Yevgeny Kafelnikov, No. 10 in the ATP rating of that period, Thomas Muster from Austria - outstanding player of the season 1995. The Tournament results inspired both - organizers and spectators: three Russians - Kafelnikov, Chesnokov and Volkov have reached the semifinals. The first winner of "St. Petersburg Open" was the best player of the last century.
From the very first Tournament the organizers paid great attention towards the social program of the event. Sightseeing tours to the Hermitage and the Russian Museum, players' parties, Pro-Am tournaments have always been the essential part of the Tournament. Participants of the first tournaments still remember helicopter flights over the Ladoga lake and winter fishing:
A year later Kafelnikov was again at the top of the participants list and had a chance to repeat his result. That time he had reached the final in the singles draw and won the pairs competition together with Andrey Olkhovsky. Magnus Gustafsson from Sweden became the winner of the second "St. Petersburg Open" and another famous player from Scandinavia - Thomas Johansson won the tournament of 1997.
"St. Petersburg Open" had a difficult times those years and only the support of the city Administration (the Governor of St. Petersburg Vladimir Yakovlev is traditionally the Chaiman of the Organizing Committee) and the commercial companies have helped it to overcome the difficulties. Even in these hard conditions the list of participants has always been impressive. The Tournament 1998 final was played by Wimbledon 1996 winner Richard Krajicek and the Russian fans favorite Mark Rosset from Switzerland. That time Rosset was defeated by the Dutch player, but a year later he won this title in the match against the German player David Prinosil.
The year 1999 became the crucial moment in the history of "St. Petersburg Open". One of the major banks of the North-Western region has purchased the rights for the Tournament from its first owner - Professional Tennis League. The Tournament financial situation improved significantly and it allowed to draw even more attention of the fans towards the Tournament. Due to these in 1999 "St. Petersburg Open" has gained the ATP award for the Record Attendance.
Furthermore the prize money was increased from 340,000 to 800,000 dollars(2000 - 2001), and in the year 2002 increased again to $1,000,000, that fact rose "St. Petersburg Open" to the level of "Kremlin Cup". The Tournament winner now receives 50 points in the ATP rating - maximum for the Tournament of this level.
The dates of holding the Tournament have been also changed - from February, the start of the season, to autumn - closer to its end. New position in the ATP calendar (right before the World Championship) makes the Tournament more interesting for the world top players - the chance to gain necessary points for getting into the World Eight in the Masters Cup.
Due to this the participants list has changed immediately - any ATP Champions Series Tournament could envy "St. Petersburg Open-2000": for the first time two of the Top six players have played on the courts of the Peterburgsky Sports Complex. They were the US Open winner Marat Safin and Olympic Champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Marat Safin won the "St. Petersburg Open" title in 2000.
The development in the technical aspect was noticeable as well. The most up-to-date surface - GreenSet Grand Prix - was laid in the Sports Complex. It is traditionally used in the prestigious indoor tournaments. The players (Marat Safin, Dominic Hrbaty, Jonas Bjorkman and others) highly estimated the new courts.
"St. Petersburg Open", which is traditionally held in one of the largest European indoor arenas, provides a unique environment for relationship building for companies interested in exploring or enhancing their positions in the Russian marketplace. Sports Complex Peterburgsky can seat up to 25,000 spectators (the capacity of the Central Court tribunes is 11,000 seats). The number of spectators annually attending "St. Petersburg Open" is more than 40,000 (last year - 42,000). Thus sponsors and partners of "St. Petersburg Open" gain incredible advertising opportunities and benefit from being associated with this top class event.
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