On the ATP World Tour, Russia hosts two important tournaments in the caudal portion of the season, each of which rewards its victor with 250 ranking points. These events are held at St. Petersburg and Moscow and both of them are over two decades old. In 1990, by the efforts of tennis promoter Sasson Khakshouri, the Kremlin Cup became Russia’s first ever International Tennis tournament and five years hence, the St. Petersburg Open followed it in the same distinction.
As far as the turf is concerned, the Kremlin Cup was played on carpet up until 2007, after which it was permanently played on hard courts. However, St. Petersburg had a frequent see-saw between hard and carpet courts. From 1995-1999 and 2004-2007, it was played on carpet whereas in the remaining years up until recent times, it is played on hard surface. The Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex was home of the St. Petersburg Open up until 2013. The competition was not held in 2014 and after that the Sibur Arena became the new battle ground for claiming the title at St. Petersburg Open.
Only four players have been able to win titles at both St.Petersburg and Moscow. Out of those, only one player has won both the tournaments in the same calendar year.
1. Yevgeny Kafelnikov
In the inaugural edition of the St. Petersburg Open, former World No.1 and two-time grand slam champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov was the top seed for the event. Kafelnikov reached the finals dropping only one set en route and faced unseeded player Guillaume Raoux in the finals. Kafelnikov defeated him 6-2 6-2 to win the first ever St. Petersburg Open and his then fifth career title overall.
The following year, Kafelnikov returned to the finals of the St. Petersburg Open but lost to Magnus Gustafsson in straight sets. In the same year, a few months later, Kafelnikov reached the finals of the Kremlin Cup for the first time in his career. There, he was defeated by Goran Ivanisevic 3-6 6-1 6-3.
In 1997, the Russian made it to the finals of Kremlin Cup yet again. This time he won the title, defeating Petr Korda 7-6 6-4. But that was not all the glory that Kafelnikov achieved at the Kremlin Cup. From 1997 to 2001, he won five consecutive titles and is till date the most successful player in Moscow.
2. Mikhail Youzhny
In 2004, three of the top five seeds at the St. Petersburg Open were Russians – Marat Safin (1), Mikhail Youzhny (4), Nikolay Davydenko (5). Top seeded Marat Safin bowed out in the quarter-finals, losing to Michael Llodra. Nikolay Davydenko would fall to Karol Beck in the second round, who would later defeat Michael Llodra in the semi-finals to set up a clash with Mikhail Youzhny for the title match. Except in his quarter-finals win against Julien Benneteau, Youzhny had dropped a set in each of his matches en route the final. However, in the finals, the Russian would defeat his Slovak opponent 6-2 6-2 to win his first title at St. Petersburg.
Five years later, Youzhny was seeded third at the 22009 Kremlin Cup where his compatriot Nikolay Davydenko was the top seed. Davydenko lost in the opening round against unseeded player Marat Safin who would later lose in the next round to another Russian, Evgeny Korolev. Mikhail Youzhny cruised into the finals without dropping a set and would face Janko Tipsarevic for the championship. The Serb would take the opening set in a tiebreaker that he won 7-5. However, Youzhny came back from behind to take the final two sets 6-0 6-4 and became only the second player and also the second Russian to win the titles at least once at St.Petersburg and Moscow.
Youzhny’s win at St. Petersburg in 2004 and at the Kremlin Cup in 2009 is also the last time that a Russian won these two tournaments.
3. Marin Cilic
In 2011, Janko Tipsarevic won the Kremlin Cup, defeating compatriot Viktor Troicki in the finals. In the succeeding week, Tipsarevic reached the finals at St. Petersburg and was attempting to become the first player to win the titles at St. Petersburg and Moscow in the same calendar year. Giles Simon was the top seed for the event but lost to fellow Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the opening round. Fourth seeded Marin Cilic defeated fifth seeded Mikhail Youzhny to reach the finals. On the other side of the net, Cilic was up against Tipsarevic who had dropped only a single set in the entire week. However, Cilic defeated Tipsarevic 6-3 3-6 6-2 to win his first title at St. Petersburg.
In 2007, Cilic was defeated in the Round of 16 at the Kremlin Cup. Years later in 2014, he made a second appearance at Moscow. He was the second seed of the event and was a favourite for the title after top seeded Milos Raonic was defeated by Ricardas Berankis in the opening round. Cilic reached the finals dropping only two sets and was up against Roberto Bautista Agut in the finals who was yet to drop a set in the tournament. Cilic won the match 6-4 6-4 and became the third player and the first non-Russian player to win titles at St. Petersburg and Moscow. Cilic and Agut would contest the finals for the second consecutive year and the Croatian would win with the same scoreline to successfully defend his title in 2015.
4. Damir Dzumhur
In 2017, with strong competitors like Roberto Bautista Agut, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Fabio Fognini in the draw, it was Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Damir Dzumhur who was the surprise element in the St. Petersburg Open. Second seeded Tsonga lost to Jan-Lennard Struff in the quarter-finals. In the semi-finals, Struff was up against Dzumhur, who had upset sixth seed Paolo Lorenzi in the opening round. Dzumhur defeated Struff 6-3 7-5 to reach the finals. Top seed Agut and third seed Fognini decided the outcome of their match in three sets as the Italian eventually won 2-6 7-6 7-6. In the finals, Fognini would begin strongly, taking the opening set 6-3. However, Dzumhur would stage a massive fightback which ultimately resulted in Fognini losing the final two sets 6-4 6-2. Damir Dzumhur had won his first ever ATP World Tour level title.
A month later, Dzumhur was seeded sixth for the Kremlin Cup. He reached the semi-finals and defeated countryman and qualifier Mirza Basic 6-0 7-6. Basic had defeated Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals who had in turn defeated top seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round. Ricardas Berankis had entered the tournament with a protected ranking and had made the most of it, defeating third seed Adrian Mannarino in the semi-finals. Mannarino had won against lucky loser Alexander Bublik in the quarter-finals who had ousted second seed Albert Ramos Vinolas in the second round. In the finals, Dzumhur defeated Berankis 6-2 1-6 6-4 to become the first man to win the titles at St. Petersburg and Moscow in the same calendar year.