Mercedes Cup: History

ATP International Series GoldSTUTTGART, GERMANY - JULY 19: Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany serves a shot to Rafel Nadal of Spain during the quarter final match of the MercedesCup at TC Weissenhof on July 19, 2007 in Stuttgart, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Niedermueller/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) organises the events of the ATP Tour. The ATP Tour is comprised of tennis tournaments that fall into various categories according to the value of the purse and the number of points on offer to the winning players. The points are then accumulated and ascertain the ranking of each player at the season’s end.

  • ATP Masters Series – can be considered the ‘platinum’ tour. The purses range from between $2 450 000 and $3 450 000, and there are 500 ranking points up for grabs for the winner.
  • ATP International Series Gold – here the prize money can be anything between $755 000 and $1 426 250, and the points on offer range between 250 and 300.
  • ATP International Series – offer prize money of between $416 000 and $1 million, and the winner’s ranking points will be between 175 and 250.
  • ATP Challenger Series – is the lowest on the rung of events. It offers purses of between $25 000 to $150 000, and points available vary between 50 and 100.

The four Grand Slam events – the Australian Open, the French Open, the Wimbledon Championships and the US Open are not run by the ATP, but by the ITF (International Tennis Federation). The end-of-year Tennis Masters Cup is governed by both the ITF and the ATP.

Mercedes Cup History

The Mercedes Cup has been contested on the clay courts of Tennis Club Weissenhof in Stuttgart since 1978. It is one of nine ATP International Series Gold events held annually throughout the world.

Half of the events are hosted in Europe, and the other 50% are held in the Middle and Far East, and Central and North America.

The champions of the Mercedes Cup over the years are renowned clay court specialists, and the current defending champion is without a doubt the most prodigious clay court master of the current era.

Rafael Nadal has clinched the title twice, in 2005 and 2007, with another clay court specialist, David Ferrer claiming the crown in 2006.

Nadal rocketed into the record books in 2005 when he decimated Gaston Gaudio in three sets to claim his first Mercedes Cup title. He extended his winning streak on clay to an awesome 34 matches, the 6th longest in history.

What is interesting is that in the 30-year Mercedes Cup history only two Germans have lifted the title – Ulrich Pinner at the inaugural Cup in ’78 and Michael Stich in 1991. The two countries that have dominated the competition over the years are Spain and Argentina, both of which have predominantly red clay court surfaces throughout.