Two weeks ago, Andy Murray stood out with a huge match against the Greek monster Stefanos Tsitsipas. And a few well-felt statements taken up by the press around the world to criticize the unusually long break time taken by his opponent. This Monday, the former world number 1 played against the German Yannick Maden, a much less upscale opponent, on a court much less known than those of Flushing-Meadows.
In the Salle du Liberté, in the heart of Rennes, the Scotsman did not tremble to dismiss the number 240 at ATP (6-3 6-1). Long injured, the former world number one has seen his ranking drop in recent years. This week, it is in the skin of the 116th world that Andy Murray presented himself in the first round of the Rennes Challenger tournament. A “regression” for the Olympic champion. But a huge blow for the tournament in the Breton capital.
This Monday, in the corridors of Liberty, we felt a lot of excitement before the first meeting of the star of Rennes Open Blot. But also a lot of stress and a lot of things to deal with. “With Andy’s coming, everything is different. We have to raise the standards so we try to encourage everyone to do better and a little faster. There is great expectation, great excitement, ”explains Nicolas Mahut.
The French tennis player, eliminated in the doubles quarter-final of the New York tournament, quickly joined France to don his sporting director’s cap for his first at the head of the Rennes tournament. “For forty-eight hours, this tournament has been sportier than the US Open. “
The match point for Andy Murray, who wins his first round at the Rennes Open fave to Yannick Maden pic.twitter.com/AVlGHCz2Q0
– Pierre Le Gall (@pierre_gall) September 13, 2021
Has the arrival of the Scottish star turned the organization upside down? ” Yes and no. Yes because he is a great champion. Our French too, but they are used to Challenger tournaments which they know how. It’s easier to approach them. But Andy hardly had any requests. He’s a huge champion, but with very, very simple demands. We try to make sure everything is perfect so that he is happy with his stay in Rennes, ”continues Mahut.
It was he who slipped the invitation to Murray at the beginning of the summer “on the tone of the joke”. Without imagining that this could materialize. “I want to get my body used to playing 2, 3, 4 games again in a week,” said Murray after his victory. Always very popular, the Scotsman has wide open access to all the biggest tournaments. But his classification forces him to bump into very large pieces from the first laps.
In Rennes, the Scottish star has in any case eclipsed the rest of the very beautiful French cast concocted by the organization, from Richard Gasquet to Gilles Simon, via Lucas Pouille or the title holder Arthur Rinderknech. “The arrival of Nicolas Mahut brings us a lot. He is a player who is still on the circuit. He is greatly appreciated, he is a facilitator. It gives them confidence, it reassures them about coming for a Challenger, ”explains Matthieu Blesteau, the tournament director.
“The plateau will not be like this every year”
Faced with this sudden exposure, the organization had to adapt quickly. Monday, we had to adjust the capricious lighting of the Liberty. A very nice room not really used to hosting tennis matches. However, it was the move within these walls during the last edition that contributed to the new renown of the Open de Rennes. But it is not the only reason. By changing the date to position itself after the US Open, the Rennes tournament had an excellent operation.
“The change of venue allows us to offer optimum conditions for the players. It brought notoriety to the tournament. But the date also played a role, it is fabulous. She freed herself a little thanks to the Covid just after the US Open and before the Moselle Open. There is also the cancellation of the Asian tour which means that the players will stay in Europe this year, ”continues Matthieu Blesteau. The manager does not get carried away and even issues a little warning. “We must take advantage this year. We are very lucky. The plateau will not be like this every year. “
In the meantime, the Open Blot is savoring its moment of glory. And is already reveling in a potential quarter-final between Richard Gasquet and Andy Murray. Who would have believed that a few years ago when the event took place in the modest Colette-Besson room, bending over backwards to attract partners? To listen to the tournament director, the nice plateau served this year greatly facilitated the commercial work of the teams. Although there is still a lot of work to be done to make a name for itself on the world circuit.
The winner will pocket… 9,000 euros
Imagine a little. This year, the winner of the Rennes tournament will pocket around 9,000 euros. Far from the 2.1 million won by Daniil Medvedev at the US Open on Sunday night. Not the same world. But whatever. Wednesday or Thursday, Andy Murray will return to the Liberty court. And that is priceless. “We have welcomed players like Rublev, Thiem, Tsitsipas, Dimitrov or Tsonga. This year, we are focusing on the big names but if it is, who will win, nobody knows. But we will perhaps find him in a year or two in the semi-finals of Roland-Garros, ”says Matthieu Blesteau. What if it was a French? We’re joking.