Romanian billionaire Ion Tiriac may be negotiating a move to shift the Madrid Open to Berlin. The billionaire businessman, also known as ‘Brasov Bulldozer’, bankrolls the big-ticket ATP Open.
It is understood that Tiriac held a meeting with Berlin mayor Michael Muller on Tuesday, during which he discussed the possibility of moving the ATP tournament to the German city.
The tournament, if shifted, will deal a huge setback to Spanish tennis as it is ranked one of the Top-10 ATP events in the world. The Spanish capital has been playing host to the Madrid Open, also the third biggest in Europe in terms of the total prize money, since 2002.
The Romanian tycoon has been sponsoring the tournament for the last 10 years.
Being among the best and biggest in the ATP calendar, the tournament attracts the biggest names in the circuit while hogging global viewership.
A report cited ProSport sources as saying that Tiriac, also a former tennis player, called on the mayor at the Berlin City Hall. According to sources, the meeting was arranged by Emil Hurezeanu, the Romanian ambassador to Germany. It was learnt that the principal agenda for the meeting was to move the calendar ATP event from Madrid to Berlin.
Given the fact that German players currently figure prominently in the ATP rankings, it is believed there’s a good chance that the top Berlin official could be open to an agreement with Tiriac in this regard.
The Madrid Open had to be canceled this year in the face of a raging novel coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown prompted cancellations of many big-ticket events and the eventual curtailment of the ATP season.
Even the Wimbledon Championship was canceled this year in view of the COVID-induced shackles on sporting activity.
There is a sense that an event which features players who ply their trade in ATP Masters 1000 events and Premier Mandatory women’s competition will help fill tennis stands in the German capital.
The tournament contract with the City Hall of Madrid will also be up for renewal next year. It is understood that if the Berlin City Hall makes an offer that is more lucrative for the principal sponsor, then the tournament will, in effect, move to the German capital.
The tournament, if shifted, could be held at the same time in early May.