June 21, 2024
Simona Halep

Daniel Dobre, the director of the Iasi Open tennis tournament, which will move from the WTA 125 category to WTA 250 this year, and will take place from July 21-26 at the Ciric base, stated on Thursday at a press conference that Simona Halep has a wild card ready to participate in the competition.

„I found out about this tournament news quite late, and it surprised me a bit because it was planned, but for the coming years. From my point of view, having such a tournament before the Olympics, on clay, means that we will definitely have very good players. In addition to our Romanian players, who have almost confirmed their presence as a group, Andrei Pavel wants to bring Nadal, I want to bring Simona Halep, and there is a wild card ready for her. And we hope she will be there. Besides the established players, Irina Begu, Ana Bogdan, Jacqueline Cristian, Gabi Ruse, Monica Niculescu, who will come for doubles, as she did last year, we have young players who have started to confirm, Anca Todoni, Miriam Bulgaru. So, in the women’s category, we will clearly have the best Romanian players, plus players, hopefully, from the top 50, maybe even higher, who will want to prepare as best as possible for the Paris Olympics, which will be on clay. This (WTA) 250 tournament means greater visibility, comes with greater responsibility. More investment is needed for the show to be of higher quality, so the effort will be greater, but the results will be worth it. I am glad that we have reached such a high level with this tournament,” said Dobre.

He specified that two of the four available invitations will be allocated to Grand Slam winners or former WTA number 1 players: “There will be 24 player qualifications and 4 wild cards, which will be for the Romanian players. There will be two wild cards on the board, plus two spots reserved for former Grand Slam winners, former number 1 players, who can apply at any time. For example, Simona Halep can do it, Kerber or Osaka can do it, it doesn’t matter who. They have the reserved right to play here.”

During the press conference at the Iasi City Hall, news was also presented about the Concord Iasi Open ATP Challenger 100 boys’ tournament, which will take place at the same sports base from July 8-14.

The tournament director, Andrei Pavel, jokingly stated that he wants to bring the Spanish player Rafael Nadal to Iasi.

“Regarding the boys’ tournament, I can say that we are a little way off from the start of registrations. Let’s see what players we will have this year. I hope to bring Nadal. No one says anything… How, where?… We hope to have very good players, there will be strong competition. Romanians will have a wild card, and we hope to help them play as well as possible. We want to have a player in the finals, maybe Cezar Cretu from Iasi. It will be a summer with very good tennis,” Pavel said.

The holder of the licenses for the two tournaments taking place this summer in Iasi, Andrei Orita, explained that in terms of the women’s competition, organizational strictness will increase exponentially with the transition to the WTA 250 category.

“At the moment, we can talk about the best historical period in terms of international competitions, in terms of points and prize money, at the Romanian level. There are three 250-point tournaments, one in Cluj, one in Bucharest, and one in Iasi. Organizational aspects are changing completely because it is a tournament focused exclusively on international production, with a very good quality level of all matches on all courts. Compared to football, 250 is at the level of the Champions League. Every organizational aspect needs to be improved. We considered that this opportunity cost is positive for us, that it can produce added value,” Oriţă said.

“We don’t know the final cost of the WTA 250 tournament at the moment because we have to do it quickly, and there are things that need to be modified. What we know is that last year the budget for the Challenger 100 was 400,000, for the WTA 125 it was 500,000, together we spent 900,000. We spent as much as the budget for a WTA 250, on average, and probably this year we will have a minimum additional cost of 400,000 euros,” added the holder of the two licenses.

The Mayor of Iasi, Mihai Chirica, stated that with the transition of the women’s tournament to another category, the municipality’s effort will be greater.

“The two tournaments were not initially included in our budget. It is a great opportunity in terms of visibility because the number of points can propel you much faster in a ranking than before, and it is a great opportunity for the city in terms of visibility. But also for the entire country because Romania brings two 250 tournaments on two sides of it, in Transylvania (Transylvania Open) and in Moldova. Another highway – it was born between Transylvania and Iasi, in addition to the other partnerships we have built over time, and I believe that tennis is a bridge for much greater visibility than what has happened so far. It will mean additional support from us. Our commitment to modernize the Ciric base will be much greater because a much larger number of spectators is needed,” said Chirica.

The mayor expressed confidence in the development of the city’s sports base in the coming years, stating that Iasi will become the hub of high-performance sports.

“Iasi has gradually come to have almost all the image facilities that Cluj has, and believe me, in 10 years we will surpass them. We have the greatest economic momentum, and this will count a lot in attracting investors, and maybe we will have bigger tournaments. We will start the two investments, the multipurpose hall, and the stadium, and they will be new. Iasi will become the hub of high-performance sports in Romania. Maybe we won’t have a selection base like Bucharest, but when it comes to Moldova, we will set the standard,” added Mayor Mihai Chirica.

The Concord Iasi Open ATP Challenger 100 men’s tennis tournament will take place from July 8-14 at the Ciric sports base in Iasi and will have total prizes of $120,000.

The Iasi Open women’s tennis tournament, which will move to the WTA 250 category this year, will be held from July 21-26 at the same sports base.

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