Round table with Hamburg European Open Tournament Director Sandra Reichel
Sandra Reichel is the new organizer and tournament director of the Hamburg European Open. On Thursday, the Austrian sat down with representatives of the international media to answer their questions about the present and the future of the prestigious ATP 500 event.
Reichel and her father Peter-Michael are well known in the international tennis scene, as having run two WTA events over the last three decades and organized the ATP tournament in Kitzbühel in 2005 and 2006.
Question: What was the toughest challenge for you to organize an ATP 500 tournament?
Sandra Reichel: Of course, we knew the venue, but we had to find out what is happening during the actual week of the tournament. We also needed to understand the history of the Rothenbaum tournament and the people, who are involved. It was important to bring the different stakeholders together. Concerning the infrastructure, further improvements will be made in the future to develop the tournament further.
What do you think about this year’s line-up?
The main thing are the players. I am very happy with this year’s line-up. In my opinion, Dominic Thiem is the best clay-court player besides Rafael Nadal and the Hamburg crowd loves him. Having Sascha here was the biggest present. With Fabio Fognini there are three Top-10-players competing here this week, all of them with different characters. That makes it special and obviously helped us a lot.
Is there a chance to see Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic playing here again in the future?
Having Roger here is not realistic. With Rafa you never know, as he loves to play on clay. I am not giving up on this. It’d be great to have Novak here, but we have to see.
What changes have been made compared to last year?
We changed a lot. I think it’s visible, as we have a new design, different colours as well as a new logo. We have a Kids’ Court here, where children can play with coaches. Judy Murray will host a kids’ clinic tomorrow and we also have the Tennis Europe 21 & Under Tournament running alongside the ATP event. So, people can have a look at the next generation of tennis. Of course, there are still things to improve but we have to learn from the first edition and need to keep working hard.
Do you know if there are many international spectators attending the event?
About 70 to 80 per cent are from Germany, but Hamburg is a great city and we also hope to foster incoming tourism from abroad in the future.
What’s easier to handle: a women’s tournament or a men’s tournament?
Tricky question. Running an ATP-Event as a woman might be a bit different for the men, as there are only a handful of female tournament directors on the ATP Tour. Men are less complicated. It can be more difficult with the women in terms of scheduling, clearing up the question, who is playing on which court. It’s more relaxed running an ATP-Event. Nonetheless, I am convinced
that the best tennis product you can have is a combined event. However, there is a long way to go. The ATP is currently not keen on having more combined events but it’s still an aim for us and it would perfectly fit to Hamburg.
What about switching the tournament to hard courts?
You need the ATP and the club behind you. It’s a difficult topic. It also depends on the spot in the calendar. We are still in talks to find new ways in the future but at the moment I am pretty happy with the clay.