CHENNAI, India – The Chennai Open tennis championships may be losing its appeal for fans from India, but the ATP event seems to be a big draw for European tourists. So much so that the tournament organizers can shrug off reports about the dwindling crowds and say, “It’s fine if people here don’t want to watch us, we continue to be watched worldwide”.
The annual tournament is popular enough to have these tourists to actually fit the southern coastal metro and more importantly the Chennai Open into their schedules.
Steve Jones and Vicente Sanchez, two friends from Spain on a holiday in India, have been following the tournament for more than a decade. “We have been watching the tournament on television back home for more than 10 years, so I decided that if I made a trip to India, then I would definitely catch the Chennai Open,” said Jones from Malacca in Spain. The pair says that Spaniards consider the Chennai Open lucky for their Spanish tennis stars. “The final between Nadal and Moya here in Chennai had every household in Alacante glued to their television sets,” says Sanchez.
The men, who had hoped to watch their countryman Nicolas Almagro in action on Thursday evening, were disappointed when his match was cancelled, but are hoping to catch the player over the next few days.
Top seeded Janko Tipsarevic continues to be a star attraction not just for local spectators but Serbs too. A Serbian family on a two-week holiday in India decided to show some support to their star and also to watch a tournament they have been following back home for a few years now.
“Tennis is really big back in Serbia, so we watch tournaments that take place across the world. I have been watching the Chennai Open for at least four years. Last year we followed the tournament closely,” said Marijeta R from Novi Sad in Serbia. “When we realized Tipsarevic is playing, we decided we had to watch him in Chennai, so we are here and the whole experience is so exciting,” says Marijeta’s daughter Mira.
Sandra Puhr, on vacation from Germany, thought the Chennai Open would excite her two boys. “They play tennis, and have been watching this tournament for the last two years, so they are very excited to see the action,” she said. “I am a huge fan of Nadal, I remember him playing this tournament and watching his matches, so when we were in Kerala we heard tickets were available, we decided to catch it,” said Victoria Marielli from Italy.