The Kremlin Cup is a combined indoor hard court tournament held every October in Moscow. An ATP 250 and a WTA Premier event, it dates back to 1990 and is staged in the city’s famous Olympic Stadium.
The inaugural Kremlin Cup was the very first major tennis tournament to be played in Russia. Originally just a men’s competition, it added a women’s event in 1996, and has grown in significance and prestige ever since.
The venue used for the tournament, Moscow’s Olympic Stadium, was constructed for the 1980 summer Olympics. It holds up to 16,000 spectators during the Kremlin Cup, and also serves as a major concert arena.
Few men’s tournaments have been dominated by homegrown players as much as the Kremlin Cup. Alexander Volkov was the first Russian player to triumph in 1994, but his achievement was dwarfed by Yevgeny Kafelnikov’s incredible run of five consecutive titles from 1997 - 2001. A Russian name was also engraved on the champion’s trophy from 2004 - 2009: Igor Andreev, Igor Kunitsyn and Mikhail Youzhny won a title each, and former world number three Nikolay Davydenko was victorious on three occasions.
Russian women haven’t been quite as successful, but they did manage to take four titles in five years from 2003 - 2007, with one win apiece for Anna Chakvetadze and Elena Dementieva and two for Anastasia Myskina. Other notable winners over the years include Grand Slam champions Mary Pierce, Martina Hingis, Conchita Martinez, Jana Novotna, Francesca Schiavone and Victoria Azarenka.
Davydenko def. Rusedski, 2004 final:
Britain’s Greg Rusedski was nearing the end of his playing career when he reached the final of the Kremlin Cup in 2004. There, he ran into local favourite Nikolay Davydenko, who was playing in his fifth ATP singles final. The big-serving Rusedski got off to the best start, breaking his less experienced opponent’s serve in the fourth game and staving off break points to close out the opener 6-3. However, the Russian responded impressively at the start of the second set. With Rusedski temporarily losing focus, Davydenko broke serve and then held convincingly to even the contest at one set apiece. Rusedski recaptured his earlier form to move ahead 2-0 in the decider, and at 5-4, he had three match points. But Davydenko, overcoming painful cramps, saved them all, dismantling the Brit’s resolve into the bargain. He broke back and won the next two games to thrill the home crowd and capture the biggest title of his career to date.
Wozniacki def. Stosur, 2012 final:
Caroline Wozniacki had not enjoyed a successful season coming into the 2012 Kremlin Cup, and faced a tough task in her first Moscow final when she ran into former US Open champion Sam Stosur. But the Dane summoned her best tennis in the opening set, returning balls deep to the baseline and pressuring Stosur into going for too much. The second set was littered with breaks as neither player could find a rhythm on her serve; however, Stosur eventually managed to consolidate her lead and took the set 6-4. As the Aussie moved ahead 3-1 in the decider, Wozniacki slammed her racket to the ground in frustration, and it seemed as though she was about to lose yet another tough match to a more aggressive opponent. But the former world number one is nothing if not a fighter, and she defended superbly to claw her way back to even terms. After saving three break points against her in the ninth game, Wozniacki finally secured victory on her second match point when Stosur missed a running forehand.
Video: Wozniacki v Stosur, 2012
- The Janko Tipsarevic-Viktor Troicki showpiece match in 2011 was the first ever all-Serbian final on the ATP Tour.
- In 2007, the playing surface changed slightly, moving from carpet to RuKortHard.
- Roger Federer won the 2002 doubles title in Moscow, partnering Max Mirnyi.
- In 2004, Russian players won all four titles at the Kremlin Cup: the men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles and women’s doubles.