BELGRADE, Jan 4 (Reuters) - The Serbia Open, founded and organised by the family of world number one Novak Djokovic, has been scrapped after four years.
“The Serbia Open tennis tournament in Belgrade will no longer feature on the ATP World Tour calendar following the decision by the organisers to cease the tournament’s operations,” the ATP men’s tour said on its official website (www.atpworldtour.com) on Friday.
It also quoted tournament organisers Family Sport, the company in charge of the event owned by Serb Djokovic and his family, as saying that they have “made the most rational decision considering the circumstances”.
“We are grateful for everyone’s contribution and help in running this event that brought a lot of international stars and attention to Serbia,” it said.
“Unfortunately, we will not be able to run the Belgrade tournament and have decided to cease the tournament’s operations from 2013.”
The Djokovic family had high hopes for the ATP 250 event when it started in 2009, especially after the world’s top tennis player, then ranked third, drew a sellout 7,000 crowd in every match en route to winning the inaugural event.
Played in the first week of May on red clay, the Serbia Open was used by Djokovic and his rivals as a warm-up for the French Open but it failed to draw other big names such as seven-times Roland Garros winner Rafa Nadal.
After retiring with flu in the early stages of 2010 and winning his second title in 2011, Djokovic pulled out of the 2012 event and the eerily empty terraces in the stadium erected by the banks of the Sava River in central Belgrade suggested the writing was on the wall.
The economic decline in Serbia has also made it difficult for sponsors to keep funding the tournament, whose last winner was Italian Andreas Seppi after he beat Frenchman Benoit Paire in the 2012 final. (Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic, editing by Mark Meadows)