One of five German tournaments on the ATP calendar, the BMW Open is also one of the oldest European clay court competitions in tennis.
The 250 series event is held just a few weeks before the French Open, and annually attracts star players and huge crowds.
German students formed Munich’s first tennis club in 1892, and a men’s competition - the International Tennis Championships of Bavaria - was held there for the first time in 1900. As was the case with the majority of tennis clubs at the time, the playing surface of choice was grass.
Although the tournament was staged in 1930 and 1931, it did not become a regular fixture on the men’s tour until 1949. The first edition of the event in its current guise was held in 1974, and it has continued to grow in size and prestige, thanks in part to high profile sponsorship by BMW.
Munich’s Iphitos Tennis Club boasts several world class clay courts, and the main stadium seats 5,600 spectators.
Budge Patty holds the record for most singles title in Munich during the amateur era. The American, a former world number one, was unbeaten from 1954 - 1956, and even came within a couple of games of winning a fourth consecutive title in 1957. Other notable champions from this period include Roy Emerson and Manuel Santana.
Guillermo Vilas won twice in Munich during the 1970s, as did fellow clay court legend Manuel Orantes. Over the next few decades, three other Grand Slam winners triumphed in the Bavarian city: Ivan Lendl, Michael Stich and Roger Federer. In 2012, local hero Philipp Kohlschreiber became the ninth multiple champion at the BMW Open.
Berdych def. Youzhny, 2009 final:
In 2009, Mikhail Youzhny was attempting to win the BMW Open for the first time, having finished runner-up two years earlier. In the final, he faced fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych, who had reached the showpiece match after edging his way through three gruelling three-set matches. Berdych got the better of the opening exchanges, and won the first set when his opponent double faulted at set point down.
Unperturbed, Youzhny raced into a 4-1 lead in the second set, hitting his flat groundstrokes with precision and moving Berdych around the court. Although the Czech broke back and had chances to even the scoreline, Youzhny held firm, and pushed the match into a decider.
As the atmosphere grew more tense, the momentum swung again, and it was now Berdych’s turn to take a 4-1 lead. Once again Youzhny fought back, and withstood tremendous pressure in the 12th game. At 5-6 down, the Russian survived three match points to force a final set tie-break. Buoyed by his narrow escape, Youzhny carved out a 4-0 and 5-1 lead, only to make a series of errors and allow Berdych back in. Sensing his rival’s unease, Berdych played sensibly on the next few points, and eventually clinched the trophy with a satisfying smash on his fourth match point.
Despite the bitter disappointment of losing from such a commanding position, Youzhny finally got his hands on the Munich trophy the following year with a gutsy three-set win over Marin Cilic.
- The last man to win both singles and doubles titles in the same year was Philipp Kohlschreiber in 2007.
- Until 1984, the final was played as a best-of-five-sets match.
- In 1997, Mark Philippoussis won the only clay court title of his career in Munich with a three-set victory over Alex Corretja.
- Guillermo Pérez-Roldán had to retire from the 1991 final when trailing 3-4 in the deciding set. A win would have made him the only three-time Munich champion in the Open Era.