Interviewed by El Mundo, Ion Tiriac, tournament director of the Mutua Madrid Open director, spoke about the evolution the tournament has had in terms of popolarity and interest since it began in 2002.
'In 2002, 15 years ago, with all respect, the Spaniards did not know what Madrid tournament was. It was erroneously compared with Barcelona. Also, there were a series of players who were just known: Feliciano, Nadal and Verdasco, all were kids, a new generation." Tiriac also shared his thoughts about one of the finalists of the first edition of the tournament, when it was played on hard court.
Jiri Novak retired without entering the court against Andre Agassi. 'Novak, after that I have never seen him. He reached his first final of a tournament in this category. And 20 minutes before he says, "I cannot, my leg hurts," I am from another generation, at my time I do not remember just one player who did not play a final.
The sport is a market of billions. Because of this I say that a sportsman has to be more professional than who works at the office or in any work, because he has a big responsibility. He plays before 14,000 people who se him live and 55 million (TV viewers) in almost 180 countries.' Tiriac's biggest and perhaps the most unsuccessful experiment was holding the event on blue clay in 2012.
While Roger Federer had no problems with the surface, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal made it clear that if the surface would not be changed, they wouldn't play the event. Speaking about that, Tiriac said, 'The tournament was held on blue clay in a wretched year because of the water.
It entered the base of the court because when they built it they made it in such a way that it skidded. Two years before, Lopez and Verdasco tried the court. It was the same. We spent five years preparing the court. Today in my mind I am sure that the blue clay is much better suited for the public, players and TV.
We spent one-and-a-half million euros. Unfortunately Nadal lost against Verdasco, Djokovic lost and they said no to the blue clay.' Finally, speaking on the subject equal prize money for ATP and WTA, he said, 'I will say this, respectfully, I like women a lot, especially when they have long legs, and are smooth and elegant.
They are also elegant on the tennis court. I don't have a problem giving them equal prize, but they have to bring me the same economic results as men do. When the audience for men's matches is four times bigger than women's, there's a problem equalling their prize money." ALSO READ: Novak Djokovic: ´I forgot the loss against Vesely.
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