Canberra ATP Challenger success opens door for Davis, Fed Cup ties

Tennis ACT boss Ross Triffitt says the Canberra ATP Challenger was such a big success it will help lure Davis Cup and Fed Cup fixtures to the nation's capital.

And he'll begin talks with Tennis Australia about making the tournament a permanent part of the Australian summer.

Could the Canberra ATP Challenger, won by Paolo Lorenzi, pave the way for a Davis Cup tie in Canberra?
Could the Canberra ATP Challenger, won by Paolo Lorenzi, pave the way for a Davis Cup tie in Canberra? Photo: Ben Southall

Triffitt said the Challenger exceeded expectations with packed stands for the final and good crowds, after they were only given a "couple of months" to organise it after the ATP requested an extra tournament due to reduced fields in Sydney and Auckland.

He said the feedback about the facilities – courts, hotels, airport – and Canberra had all been positive, which he felt had helped produce "great tennis".

That great tennis even made it to the ATP website, with a 37-shot rally between Marcel Granollers and tournament winner Paolo Lorenzi in the semi-final.

The positioning of the tournament also helped attract 10 of the world's top 100 men.


​Tennis ACT put in an unsuccessful bid for Australia's first-round Davis Cup tie against the US in March, with Kooyong given the nod instead.

But Triffitt felt the success of last week will help them bring future ties to Canberra.

"It was a great success and was a lot better than we anticipated – we only had a couple of months' notice to pull the event together," he said. "It bodes really well for not just our ability to deliver these events, but our aspirations for Fed Cup and Davis Cup, which need to be delivered on short notice."

With the Canberra Tennis Centre in Lyneham already set to host the Canberra International for another two years after it's first running last November, the Challenger was only meant to be a "one off".

But Triffitt said the glowing report from the ATP had him confident they could turn it into a permanent event. He will speak to Tennis Australia at the Australian Open in Melbourne this week about coming up with a financial model to make that happen. The ATP and Tennis Australia provided most of the funding for this year's event.

"Definitely [it could be back next year]. It was well received by the Canberra public – we had every seat in the house full for the final," he said.

"It indicates that there is good support for an event this time of year and without a doubt we've got the best venue in the country to deliver this type of event. We've got a lot of pluses in the right column, it just really comes down to the financial model."

Triffitt said he was blown away by the crowds this week and last summer Canberra produced sell-out crowds for Asian Cup soccer games at Canberra Stadium.

It challenged his perception Canberrans wouldn't support an event in January, with everyone traditionally down the coast.

Triffitt hoped those crowds could translate into corporate support. Before the Challenger started Triffitt said that was the biggest barrier to the tournament becoming a permanent fixture.

He hoped they could one day host a tournament big enough to attract Canberra star Nick Kyrgios to play.

Kyrgios begins his Australian Open campaign against Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta on Monday night.

"I think things are changing. There has been the perception for a long time that you just can't run events in January, but we're seeing more and more that people are turning up," Triffitt said.

"It certainly changed our opinion that an event in January may be sustainable and we may be able to get good crowds. The traditional mindset needs to be revisited as to whether there would be corporate dollars spent this time of year."