The ATP Kremlin Cup is an indoor/hard court ATP World Tour 250 event held in Moscow, Russia.
The tournament usually takes place throughout the third week of October at the city’s Olympic Stadium, which has been the venue since the tournament was founded in 1990 when it became Russia’s first professional international tennis competition.
Inevitably, Russian players have dominated the event since its inauguration, with 14 home grown winners emerging out of the 21 champions to date.
Former Australian and French Open hero Yevgeny Kafelnikov monopolised the tournament in the late nineties, lifting the title on five consecutive occasions, making him the event’s most successful player by an extremely wide margin.
And, as the event has tended to be hugely competitive throughout the last decade, it is unlikely any achievements on the scale of Kafelnikov’s will be matched for quite some time. Currently, 28 players are included in a knockout format which sees the eight highest seeds all progress through to the last 16 stage via an automatic bye.
Essentially, despite the ATP Kremlin Cup being rather prestigious for a 250 event due to its history and sizeable prize money, many of the world’s elite stars tend to opt out of participating due to the event being staged after all four Grand Slams of the year.
Also, with only 250 ranking points on offer, qualification for the World Tour Finals is unlikely to be affected for the highly ranked players who have defended or attained most of their points at the bigger events earlier in the year.
Despite the event being non-mandatory however, many players outside of the world’s top ten are keen to showcase their talents and achieve some silverware which is generally a lot harder to come by at ATP 500, ATP Masters and Grand Slam events.
This can leave the championship wide open, which is often excellent news looking at things from an entertainment and betting perspective.
And due to the sport’s rapid evolution and overall improvement in standardthroughout the years, the action is still top quality despite the absence of the real household names.
This was typified in 2011 when the vastly improved Janko Tipsarevic progressed through to the ATP Tour’s first all-Serbian final against defending champion Viktor Troicki, before snatching his compatriot’s crown in straight sets with a stunning display of hard court tennis.
Tipsarevic had been performing reasonably well on a consistent basis throughout the year – and after creeping up to World No.14 prior to the tournament, was an obvious choice of winner at decent odds before a ball had been served.
Other winners from the past few years, such as Nikolay Davydenko and Mikhail Youzhny, have also carried form into the event as they sat on the fringes of the world’s top ten.
The clever money at the ATP Kremlin Cup will almost certainly be on an improving player who has shown a consistent level of form against better competition throughout the season.
Providing they still have enough juice in the tank at such a late stage of the year, it takes a lot to stop players in the mould of Tipsarevic who are driven to lift a trophy as an extra reward for a decent campaign.
And, as the aforementioned statistic has shown, Russian players always go well in front of their home crowd so this also needs taking into serious consideration both at the start and throughout the tournament.