Will Rios steal McEnroe’s crown this year?
THIS YEAR’S all-star line-up has just been announced for the annual Vale do Lobo Grand Champions Millennium bcp tournament, taking place from August 8 to 11, and includes no less than three former world number ones: John McEnroe, Marcelo Rios and Thomas Muster.
Joining them for this hugely popular summer event at the Vale do Lobo Tennis Academy, will be former Wimbledon Champion Pat Cash, Triple Davis Cup Champion Carl-Uwe Steeb, former world doubles number one, Paul Haarhuis, the best Portuguese tennis player of all time, Nuno Marques, and former Portuguese national champion and successful veteran, João Cunha e Silva.
The championship is an official part of the Merrill Lynch ATP Tour of Champions, with points counting towards ranking and qualification for the Masters in London in December. Pedro Frazão, the tournament director, set himself a hard act to follow after last year’s impressive line-up that featured John McEnroe, Mats Wilander and Jim Courier. However, by inviting Muster and Rios to join last year’s winner, John McEnroe, he has managed to equal his record of hosting three former world number ones.
Curiously, in a unique twist, this year’s event will feature a total of five left-handers: Rios, Muster, McEnroe, Steeb and Marques. Another new factor this year is the inclusion of two Portuguese players. Utilising the two wild card rule, Pedro Frazão chose to invite two national players, rather than just one as in previous years, in an effort to attract more interest from Portuguese tennis fans.
Thirty-year-old Marcelo Rios won the Tour’s first two tournaments of the season, with victories in Doha and Hong Kong. He hasn’t played again since and it will be interesting to see if he can steal McEnroe’s crown at Vale do Lobo next month.
The tour’s traditional clowns, Leconte, Noah and Bahrami, may be missing this year, but the legendary enfant terrible, John McEnroe, is still more than capable of a few antics of his own, guaranteeing plenty of thrills (and spills) for the hundreds of fans at the event this August.
Tickets are already available and can be bought online at www.grandchampions.org or from the Vale do Lobo Tennis Academy. Ticket prices are as follows: Premier seats 35 euros, Tribune seats 30 euros, Under 14s tribune seats 15 euros (except finals). Finals (August 11) Premier seats 40 euros, Tribune seats 35 euros, Under 14s tribune seats 25 euros. Box for four days (six persons and open bar) 1,800 euros, box for four days (six persons, deluxe dinner and open bar) 2,800 euros. For further information call Premier Sports on 289 357 850.
The event is organised by Premier Sports and the main sponsors are the Vale do Lobo resort and Millennium bcp; other official sponsors include Loulé Câmara, RTA, Luso water, Toyota, Lacoste, Le Meridien, Jameson, Guialmi, Solverde, KPMG and Pequingnet.