Mexico City, December 2nd, 2022.- Going back to 1998, when the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presented by HSBC was still played in the country’s capital. Even though Thomas Muster is remembered as one of the greatest stars in the first stages of the tournament after his four consecutive titles, his winning streak as we remember came to an end at the hands of Francisco Clavet and for the sixth edition it was the turn of another European to shine.
His name is Jiri Novak, a 23-year-old Czech with an impressive height of 1.91 meters (6.3 feet) and with his two-handed backhand began to reap victories in the ATP tour until he won his second title in Mexico City after defeating the Belgian Xavier Malisse 6-3, 6-3.
His first memory of the Mexican Open was playing at a very high altitude (2,240 meters above sea level), but also has other memories of the tournament when it changed the venue to Acapulco, where he also competed.
“I like the fact that for Europeans, Mexico is a bit of an exotic country. I played twice in Mexico City with a great altitude and for the third year the Mexican Open was held in Acapulco, a great place on the beach. I remember the amazing weather, a beautiful hotel and great facilities.”
Novak won seven titles in total during his 14-year professional career. He´s currently 47 years old and lives in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
From the confort of his home, he reveals, what for him has been key for the AMT to flourish for three decades.
“For the tournament to turn 30 means that it lives surrounded by a great atmosphere and has an outstanding organization, the sponsors have always supported the tournament, but more than anything it´s because of the fans. I remember that every time I went, there were many spectators who love the sport. It must mean a lot for the whole tournament,” he said.
Finally, Novak, who was a doubles finalist at Wimbledon in 2001 and the US Open 2002, sent a message to the Mexican fans who at some point showed their support.
“I wish that they stay attentive to the tournament in the future and I believe that if they are going to the matches, the tournament, it´s because of them and that´s why the tournament may linger and will continue to do so for many years to come,” stated Novak, who at one point in his career reached No. 5 in the world.