You can already feel the excitement leading to the great event in Stella Maris. Early July has always been the time when the local tennis aficionados begin to salivate. The 26th Konzum Croatia Open Umag is at the door, and the newest edition of the largest ATP tournament in Southeast Europe gives us the reason to be particularly excited about the beginning of yet another Croatian Open.
The offer at this year’s tournament in Umag truly offers everything we could possibly desire. This exciting combination of first-class tennis players, an excellent party programme and exclusive cuisine has long since been highlighted in our calendars for the period between 18 and 26 July as an event that shouldn’t be missed. The most important part of the tournament – the tennis stars that ought to steal the show at Stella Maris, are looking particularly attractive this season.
Gael Monfils, who ought to be the first player, is a name we are particularly looking forward to seeing. This Frenchman is a great entertainer, and his displays go well with his tennis daredevilry, as he demonstrates at almost every tournament. Recently at Roland Garros, in an atmosphere that can be created only by a French audience, he won two matches in five sets and truly gave Roger Federer a hard time. Although he lost four sets in the 8th finals, his performances and his miraculous return in the match against Pablo Cuevas, last year’s Umag champion, definitely marked the tournament. There are very few tennis players who are able to drop out in the 8th finals and still be remembered as one of the heroes of the tournament.
With every new week, Borna Ćorić demonstrates more and more why all of us are so excited about his growth as a tennis player. He is developing so well and so rapidly that it is difficult to imagine where his limitations would be. These days, he won his first match at Wimbledon and demonstrated that even his least favoured surface – grass – is serving him better and better. The slow terrain of Umag fits his playing style perfectly, and during the week of preparations in Umag, he will have the opportunity to prepare well for everything that is before him.
Fabio Fognini doesn’t even need this kind of preparation. Thanks to his seven performances at the oldest ATP tournament in Croatia, he is already well acquainted with every nook and cranny in Umag. And by heart, too! Italian fans would surely celebrate like mad if he were to win.
In addition to these three “poster boys”, we will have the opportunity to watch an entire array of tennis masters at this year’s tournament. Here will also be Roberto Bautista Agut , who was in 2014 acclaimed as the player who advanced the most at the ATP tournament, Dominic Thiem who, due to his lightning-fast backhand, was nicknamed “mini Stan Wawrink”, Phillip Kohlschreiber, Andreas Seppi and Mihail Južnij, who have been among the finest tennis players for many years now, while players like Lukaš Rosol, Jiri Vesely and Martin Kližan guarantee that the eternally merry Czech and Slovakian fans will heat up the atmosphere while their favourites are playing.
Perhaps the best evidence of the strength of the 26th Konzum Croatia Open is looking at the names of players that are still on the “waiting list” for playing qualifications in Umag. Names such as Ernests Gulbis or Jurgen Melzer were not able to directly quality for the main tournament though, perhaps, you will have the opportunity to view them during the first weekend of the tournament.