: Champions Cup Preview
The Champions Cup – Athens
, the first international Champions Series tennis event organized by Jim Courier and InsideOut Sports & Entertainment, begins Thursday at the Athens Olympic Tennis Centre in Athens, Greece. The tournament, that concludes Sunday, features 14-time Grand Slam tournament champion and Greek-American Pete Sampras in his first-ever visit to Greece. The following are quotes from Wednesday’s press conference at the “Athens Hilton” and other notes on the event.
PETE SAMPRAS, 14-time Grand Slam titlist and seven-time Wimbledon champion
“I am very happy to be here, in my parents’ homeland, which I am visiting for the first time. I would very much like to visit my mother’s village of origin, the village of Selacia in Laconia, but it is far away from Athens and I am not sure whether I will have enough time to do that. In any case, I want to visit the sightseeing sites of Athens and I am thrilled to be playing against Courier at the foot of the Acropolis on Thursday.”
“Unfortunately, I do not speak any Greek, but I do remember my mother yelling at me in Greek when I was young and she was scolding me. At age 17, I was playing in a tournament in Germany and someone from the Greek government, if memory serves me right, approached my father and discussed with him the possibility of me representing Greece, but there was no follow-up after that. I am a Greek-American, but I have played the Davis Cup with the USA national team for many years.”
“Federer is the best player in the world at the moment. He has won Wimbledon four times and I believe he may very well break my own record (7). It is all up to him, that is to say for how long he can withstand playing under pressure and competing at this level. Nadal is also a great athlete, whereas although I have not watched (Marcos) Baghdatis that much, I like the fact that when he competes he puts intensity and emotion into his game.”
JIM COURIER, two-time French and Australian Open champion
“The “ATHENS CHAMPIONS CUP 2007” is a big opportunity for Greece, a country that appreciates sports in general and tennis in particular. This series of tournaments enjoy great popularity in the U.S.A. and I am happy because Athens is our first international stop.
Greek fans will enjoy a high level of tennis, with the participation of great names, and I believe that significant benefits for Greek tennis will ensue. I would like to thank Dinos Makrykostas very much, because we are here thanks to his passion.
Tennis is constantly evolving; the conditions are changing, the equipment is changing, everything. Athletes are now stronger, faster, and more resilient and have greater technical skills. Besides, tennis gives everyone the opportunity to play throughout their lives. Of course, I am not sure who would come watch me play when…I am old and grey, but this is a whole different story…”
GEORGE ORFANOS, Greek National Deputy Minister of Sports
“May 2007 has been a blessed sporting month for Greece, since right after the Euroleague Basketball 2007 Final Four and a little before the UEFA Champions League Final, we are hosting the “ATHENS CHAMPIONS CUP 2007”, with the perspective of claiming the organization of a large ATP tournament in the future. Eight world-acclaimed tennis stars will compete against one another in one of the best facilities in the world and those who have contributed to the organization of this event are worthy of the most sincere congratulations.”
STAVROS DOUVIS, Greek National General Secretary of Sports
“The “ATHENS CHAMPIONS CUP 2007” may largely increase the popularity of tennis in Greece; besides, we have both the desire and the necessary infrastructures to host great tournaments and all sorts of events. We would like to thank not only the top athletes who will participate in the tournament, but also Mr. Makrykostas for his valuable contribution.”
KONSTANTINOS MAKRYKOSTAS, President of the ATHENS OPEN S.A.
“I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your response to our great effort. I would like to believe that this is simply the first big moment and that others will follow in the future. I am happy, overwhelmed and proud because my dream has come true and I firmly believe that Greece may evolve into the centre of the world in tennis as well.”
CHAMPIONS CUP ATHENS NOTES
SAMPRAS IN THE HALL OF FAME
During a special ceremony that will take place in July, Pete Sampras will enter the “International Tennis Hall of Fame”. The honorary distinction was officially announced on Wednesday by the chairman of the executive committee of the foundation, Chris Clouser, who presented, together with Mr. Makrykostas, a commemorative t-shirt of the “International Tennis Hall of Fame” to the 35 year-old player.
There are three events of great interest that take place at the same time as the tournament:
Sampras vs. Courier at the foot of the Acropolis!
On Thursday, May 17, at 12:00 noon, there will be an exhibition match between Pete Sampras and Jim Courier at a specially modified area in front of the “Dionysus” restaurant with a view to the Acropolis!
Tomorrow’s tennis players meet the big “stars”
On Saturday, May 19, at 11:00 a.m., the “ATHENS CHAMPIONS’ CUP 2007” top stars will meet the Greek champions of the future. The first 100 children up to 18 years of age to arrive at the Olympic Tennis Centre bringing along their racquets will meet the eight athletes and play with them. Apart from the opportunity to live their dream even for a few minutes, the children will also receive a ticket each to watch the Saturday afternoon games for free. Those children who will not be amongst the first one hundred to arrive will be able to remain at the Tennis Centre and watch the exhibition matches from the stands.
An exhibition entitled “In the Zone”
Throughout the duration of the “ΑΤHENS CHAMPIONS CUP 2007”, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum will present an interesting exhibition entitled “In the Zone”. The exhibition will be set in one of the first floor rooms of the Olympic Tennis Centre and refers to the most important times of famous tennis champions, such as: Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, Rod Laver, Chris Evert Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. The exhibition also hosts special tributes to Pete Sampras and Arantxa Sanchez–Vicario, who will this year enter the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Australian Mark Philippoussis was forced to withdraw from Champions Cup Athens due to his continued knee problems. He is replaced in the draw by Swede Magnus Larsson. Mats Wilander also withdrew from the event due to the lingering back problems that also forced him to withdraw from the Champions Cup Boston. Wilander is replaced in the field by Anders Jarryd. Wayne Ferreira replaces Emilio Sanchez in the field. Sanchez is unable to play due to illness.
THE “ATHENS CHAMPIONS’ CUP” GAMES SCHEDULE
The eight athletes have been divided into two groups of four and will be playing a round-robin schedule. The winners from the each group will meet one another in the final, whereas the runner-ups from each group will vie for third place. All scores and updates can be found at www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com
GROUP A GROUP B
THE MATCH SCHEDULE
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Larsson vs. Jarryd
Courier vs. Cash
Martin vs. Krajicek
Sampras vs. Ferreira
Friday, May 18, 2007
Courier vs. Ferreira
Martin vs. Larsson
Sampras vs. Cash
Krajicek vs. Jarryd
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Cash vs. Ferreira
Larsson vs. Krajicek
Jarryd vs. Martin
Sampras vs. Courier
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Match for third place
SPONSORS AND SUPPORTERS
The Official Sponsors of the “Athens Champions Cup 2007” are the OPAP, the Ministry of Tourism Development and the Greek National Tourism Organization.
The “Athens Champions Cup 2007” communication sponsors include: the Greek National Broadcaster (ERT), the STATUS magazine, the SportDay newspaper, the Adbusiness and TennisInsider magazines and the radio stations Best 92,6 and SuperSPORT FM.
This tournament lists supporters such as: the Athens Hilton, Slazenger, Peugeot, Olympic Airlines, Puma, San Benedetto, and the Athens Medical Centre Group.