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Interview of Roger Brennwald

President of the Swiss Indoors

Can you describe the "Ultimate" match vision of the future ?

It will be decided in 2020 to reintroduce wooden racquets again to slow down high speed tennis. The veteran Roger Federer (39) is looking forward to this measure. The touch of the Swiss is also outstanding and unparalleled with the wooden Wilson-Racket. The New Yorker, John McEnroe, has come out of retirement. As a left-hander he will be a danger to Federer, especially since the American will have the condition and running ability of Rafael Nadal thanks to new genetic engineering. In order to finally make the dream opponent to Federer a cool character, he will be given the genes of the Swede, Stefan Edberg. The reconstructed John McEnroe will be a tough opponent for Federer. Both are displaying dream tennis. A net cord decides the Champions-Tiebreak in the 5th set. Both stars reach for the net and decide to donate the prize money to the charity “Children in Need”. The 15,000 spectators in the St. Jakobshalle which has now finally been built, give a standing ovation.

Can you recount a few anecdotes from these past 40 years of the tournament (memorable match points, memorable victories, memorable quotations from the winners) ?

Before, I used to have more time to travel to tournaments. That was also the case when it came to signing the Swede, Björn Borg, for the first time. At that time, I was at a tournament, went to the dressing rooms and spoke with the “Ice-Borg”. In the style of Obama he said “Yes, we can” and subsequently kept his word. The Swede was a big celebrity and hugely contributed to tennis becoming a spectator sport, also on television. In 2003 we were kept on tenterhooks when the Argentine, David Nalbandian, pulled-out 80 minutes before the final against his compatriot Guillermo Coria. The indoor court was filled with 9,000 spectators. We searched for a replacement. Roger Federer was in Basel but had a back injury and was unable to oblige. Most of the players had already travelled to Paris-Bercy by now. We tracked down the Swiss, Jean-Claude Scherrer, in the Canton of Schwyz and we sent him to a local airfield. A motor race was taking place there at the time but had to be suspended due to the landing and take-off of the helicopter. The player, in changed clothes, landed in Basel behind the indoor court and was in action on Centre Court five minutes later. I had high emotions in 2002 and 2001. Roger Federer reached the final on two occasions and at that time it used to be decided on a best of five basis. Firstly he lost to the Swede, Thomas Enqvist and a year later to the Englishman, Tim Henman. Federer cried tears of disappointment. I thought, “Gosh, he’s never going to win our tournament, too much pressure on a home-grown player.” Fortunately, the Federer-Express was to find the road to success in Basel later.

Can you tell us some of your hopes and expectations for this year’s Swiss Indoors tournament ? 

A year before its 40th Anniversary (2010), the Swiss Indoors has set foot on a historical platform for the future as a new Formula 500 premium tournament. The reform agenda on the tour benefits the strengths of the strongest, happy that Basel counts amongst the 20 most important events. As the third-largest indoor tournament in the world we are building the bridge to world tennis for Switzerland. Of course, it is a privilege to work with an exceptionally talented player like Roger Federer. The world-rankings leader and best professional of the open era enriches the Basel tradition after all of the world number one’s who have appeared at the St. Jakobshalle over the years. This deep-rooted attachment to the tournament for the players largely explains the highlight of Swiss tennis. The sporting content is centre stage in addition to diverse facilities for spectators. The 70,000 visitors, as a total, is a fantastic number. This, along with TV coverage in about 200 countries, shows the popularity of the Swiss Indoors which gives numerous global brands a commercial platform. This co-operation, respect amongst sponsors is also desired for this year’s tournament. Whether Roger Federer becomes the first professional to win the tournament four times is only known by the tennis gods. The same applies to the superstar as it does for the organising committee with about 900 associates: Whoever works hard cannot be certain of success.

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