Saturday School: All you need to know about Swiss Indoors

Switzerland’s biggest sporting event, the Swiss Indoors, will be held once again at Basel. Entering its 48th edition, the tournament promises to be an interesting one with the players list headlined by Roger Federer, Marin Cilic and Juan Martin Del Potro.
Ever since its inception in 1970, the tournament has had a fairly decent rise and is one of the most disciplined ATP 500 events on tour. Though, it came into limelight in 2013 when the tournament’s President had a spat with its most successful player, Roger Federer. Before jumping on to the details of the fiasco, let us first have a look at the noteworthy events that took place chronologically.


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The Swiss Indoors were staged for the first time in 1970 and the winner was awarded a wristwatch. It was Klaus Berger from Germany, who won the first ever Basel Open. After three successful years, which produced a new winner every year, the tournament was moved to Fiechtenhalle in Reinach, Germany. The seating capacity of this hall was 1,500.


In 1975, the tournament was moved to St. Jakobshalle, its current venue. The event also became a part of the Grand Prix Circuit. In a stunning final, it was the Czech player Jiri Hrebec, who beat Illie Nastase in the finals. In the 1977 edition, the tournament was won by Bjorn Borg. This made the sport largely popular in Switzerland. In its 9th edition, the tournament started a sponsorship scheme which gave free attendance to 3000 young players each year from then on. In 1980, yet another final took place wherein, Ivan Lendl defeated Bjorn Borg in 5 long sets.


A successful decade of play at the Swiss Indoors saw Ivan Lendl and Yannick Noah win the title twice and Stefan Edberg winning the title thrice. In 1986, it was the Swiss watch company Ebel which sponsored the tournament for that particular year. 1988 and 1989 saw Ebel return as the title sponsor of the Swiss Indoors.  The following year the seating capacity was raised to 8,500.

1990s and the rise of Roger Brennwald

Davidoff, the Swiss brand of cigars and smoking accessories decided to sponsor the event. This successful relationship stretched up till 2009. The tournament was now a part of the ATP World series.

Roger Brennwald was a pioneer of the Swiss Indoors in many ways. A long list of accolades alongside his name are evidence of the staggering success of Roger Brennwald. In 1994, he was awarded the “Entrepreneur of the year in the canton of Basel.” In 1997, as the President of the event, Brennwald was handed the award naming Swiss Indoors as the tournament of the year. In 1999, Brennwald was awarded the Basler of the year award and was named as one of the top 10 sports personalities of the country.

2000s and the appearance of yet another Roger

Swiss Indoors were a part of the International series of tournaments from 2000 to 2008. In 2003, the tournament was honored by the ATP for best marketing and promotion. In 2004, Brennwald is handed the Basel Sports Champion promotional award. In 2005, yet again the tournament was given an ATP recognized award, this time for excellent organisation and services.
2006 arrived and a native of Basel, who served as a ball boy in the event won the event for the first time. Roger Federer defeated Fernando Gonzalez to win his maiden title at the Swiss Indoors. This was also the last year when the event was held on carpet.
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The next two years which saw a change of turf to hard courts were also dominated by Federer who defeated Jarko Nieminen and David Nalbandian with a similar scoreline of 6-3,6-4 in the finals.

2009- 12

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Two major changes took place in 2009. The event was promoted to be a part of the ATP 500 tournaments and Davidoff ended its sponsorship for Swiss Indoors. This year also confirmed Swiss Indoors as the third largest Indoors tournament after Paris and Shanghai. In 2011, the courts were turned blue, replicating the ATP World Tour Finals. The next year, Juan Martin Del Potro defeated Federer in the finals. The attendance in the match was  a record 72,200.

2013 Roger VS Roger

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When Davidoff ended its agreement with Basel, Brennwald asked Federer to cut his fees by 50% so that other sponsors could come in. Federer agreed and signed up for the coming 4 years. In 2012, Brennwald was unavailable for the Basel event. Now, it is rumoured that Federer was left in-charge of the sponsorship meetings that year. Federer, who wanted to focus on playing tennis passed on the duty to Tony Godsick, his manager, as the in-charge. Unfortunately, Godsick and Brennwald have had a distasteful past.
When 2013 came, Brennwald was asked regarding the participation of Federer in the Swiss Indoors. Brennwald, in an unexpected outrage said that Federer was too busy and didn’t answer his calls. Above that, to prove his point he called Federer in the live conference and suitably, Federer did not pick up the call. Brennwald’s reaction was offensive to many people. A week later, Brennwald apologized to Federer:
“I made a mistake wanting to call him in front of all but I was in a tight spot. A journalist asked me “ Can’t you contact him personally and solve the question?”, my answer was : ”I tried many times and I can do it again, even now”. That was a stupid reaction but believe me I’m not a dishonest or unloyal person. I apologize with everybody, obviously to Roger, but also to all those people who didn’t like the gesture.” 
“He’s grown up in this city, in this tournament, he was a ball boy. I still remember that he use to come to the club by bike or accompanied by his mother, we lived fantastic moments together. I’m a human being, I mistook and I hope that Roger will accept my apologies. The goal is the one to try to find a compromise and put him in the ideal conditions to win his sixth title. If I have to make a prediction, I tell you that it will be him the one triumphing again.”
That year, Federer reached the finals for an eighth consecutive year, only to be defeated by Del Potro in the second consecutive year.


For the fourth time in two decades, Swiss Indoors received an ATP award. In 2014, it was awarded the tournament with Best Marketing, Promotion and Development in Europe. In 2016, Federer did not participate in the event due to a knee injury. The 47th edition was won by Marin Cilic, defeating Kei Nishikori in the finals.


This year, Federer returns to the tournament and so does Juan Martin Del Potro. The Argentinian is the only player who has stopped Federer from winning the titles in 2012 and 2013 finals.
St. Jakobshalle is also being renovated for this year’s edition. Here are few pictures of the new St.Jakobshalle.

The winner of Swiss Indoors takes away a glimmering trophy and a prize money of  €2,022,30. The event will be held from 23rd October to 29th October 2017.

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