Grass, A Forest & Champions Tour Tennis: A Formula For Success

Tim EdwardsThe BNP Paribas Fortis Champions was held on a grass court at the David Lloyd Club in Brussels, Belgium.

A beautiful grass court, an intimate setting and some of the best players in the history of tennis. With all of that, there was never a doubt that the inaugural BNP Paribas Fortis Champions, held at the David Lloyd Club in Brussels, Belgium, would earn positive reviews from everyone involved.

“I think for the first edition, it has been perfect. Everything: the court, the atmosphere, the weather, the VIP tent, the food and the whole organisation was perfect,” said Xavier Malisse, the ATP Champions Tour event’s winner. “For us players, it was such a pleasure and honour to play here. It was a really good event and I hope it will continue.”

The setting could not have been more comfortable for the tennis legends and fans alike. The David Lloyd Club itself is set within a crisp green forest and just beyond the court sits a stunning castle reminiscent of a different time.

“They’ve really put on a nice event,” Swede Thomas Enqvist said. “It’s the first year they’ve had it here and it’s very well organised and it has a lot of potential.”

How about the tennis itself? It was a treat for the players to compete on the grass, giving them a dose of nostalgia.

“The only problem for me is that there is not too much pace in the court. But it’s a fun court, you can slide on it, have good rallies, [the ball] stays low,” Malisse said. “I like it because if I’m in trouble, I can serve my way out of it..

The Belgian was not the only one who enjoyed the surface. Enqvist, former World No. 4, said he had previous experience on it.

“The school I am coaching at currently has these courts and even if it rains, you can go straight out after and play,” said Enqvist, although weather did not affect the second ATP Champions Tour event of the year. “The court is great, they’ve done a great job with the venue here.”

The quality of tennis helped. In an exciting final, Malisse defeated Aussie Mark Philippoussis in a Match Tie-break, overcoming a daunting 6/0 deficit to triumph. The surface was fitting, as 19 years earlier, Philippoussis beat Malisse on grass at Wimbledon. 

"I think it’s the most competitive match I’ve had on the Champions Tour. It was great," Malisse said. "I thought I was going to lose because he was 6/0 up in the tie-break... overall we played a great match and [it was] good entertainment with the crowd [and the] beautiful weather. "

It’s safe to say that the inaugural BNP Paribas Fortis Champions was a resounding success.

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