One of the most popular Asian tennis tournaments gets underway in late September when Bangkok hosts the Thailand Open.
The ATP 250 event has had a regular spot on the calendar since 2003, and has welcomed some of the most eminent players of the last decade.
The Thailand Open is played on indoor hard courts in the country’s capital city. The complex used for the tournament, the Impact Muang Thong Thani, is the second largest is Asia. It hosts almost 500 events annually, including music concerts and muay Thai competitions.
The USA’s Taylor Dent won the very first Thailand Open in 2003, surprising that year’s French Open champion, Juan Carlos Ferrero, in the final. Roger Federer won the tournament in 2004 and 2005, and remains the only man to feature twice on the roll of honour. Andy Murray lifted the trophy in 2011.
Over the years, the most successful nation in Bangkok has been France. Jo-Wilfred Tsonga upset Novak Djokovic to win the title in 2008, and Gilles Simon was victorious the following year. In 2012, Richard Gasquet became the third French winner when he beat Simon in that year’s showpiece match.
Garcia-Lopez def. Nadal, 2010 semi-final:
Rafael Nadal was the star attraction at the 2010 Thailand Open. He entered the tournament fresh from winning the US Open, his third Grand Slam title of the year, and was enjoying one of the best seasons in the history of the ATP Tour. As a result, few expected his semi-final clash with compatriot Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to be anything other than a matter of routine.
Nadal was in excellent form in the first set, and as if dealing with the world’s number one player wasn’t enough, Garcia-Lopez also had to contend with hip and back injuries, for which he sought treatment. The Matador won the opener comfortably 6-2, but from that point onwards, things became very interesting.
Garcia-Lopez, ranked 53, started to use his formidable serve to his advantage, firing down a series of aces and opening up the court with hard, flat deliveries out wide. Nadal had countless break point opportunities, but the underdog saved each and every one. The lengthy rallies were highly entertaining to watch, but Nadal couldn’t find a way to break down his opponent, and Garcia-Lopez took the second set on a tie-break.
As the match reached the two-and-a-half hour mark, the top seed became visibly frustrated. A netted smash from Nadal helped Garcia-Lopez break for a 3-1 lead in the deciding set, and the unseeded player didn’t falter. On his second match point at 5-3, he sent down another huge serve and followed it up with a forehand into the open court to seal a famous victory.
The story of the day for Nadal was his failure to convert 24 break point opportunities, but for Garcia-Lopez, the 165-minute tussle was the greatest moment of his career. Fortunately, he had enough energy left for the final, where he beat Jarkko Nieminen to win his second ATP title.
Video: Garcia-Lopez v Nadal, 2010
- A WTA tournament was held in Bangkok from 2005 - 2007.
- Andy Murray reached his first ever career final in Bangkok in 2005.
- Twin brothers Sonchat Ratiwatana and Sanchai Ratiwatana thrilled the home fans when they won the Thailand Open doubles title in 2007.
- Andy Murray played in his first ever ATP doubles final in Bangkok in 2006, partnering brother Jamie.