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On February 6 the 5th International tennis tournament "ST. PETERSBURG OPEN' 99", an ATP Tour tournament with $340,000 of prize money was opened. Two rounds of qualifiers were played today with participation of 16 players from Russia and the CIS. To the delight of local fans three of them (Igor Korneenko of St. Petersburg, Alexander Shvetz of Minsk, Bielorus and Igor Kunitsyn of Vladivostok) still have a chance to participate in the main competition. Another Russian player, Denis Golovanov, was very close to victory in his match with Cyril Saunnier of France, but lost the most important tie-break in the third set. Names of four players who made it from the qualifiers to the main draw will be known on Sunday. Also on Sunday the schedule of the main draw will be known.

Meanwhile, major competitors arrive in snowy St. Petersburg. Tournament organizers believe that we will see some breathtaking matches of world-class tennis players, despite late cancellations of three major stars who were expected to come to St. Petersburg. Goran Ivanisevich, Thomas Enquist and Thomas Johansson will not play in this tournament due to injuries. Yet, the organizers are inspired by the example of Australian Open: there both Pit Sampras and Marcelo Rios did not arrive, but the tournament still attracted a lot of attention from the public and the experts alike.

This year "ST. PETERSBURG OPEN" will welcome a number of major international players retaining its high standard of World Series tournament. Among major competitors this year one has to mention last year's finalist Marc Rosset, who currently is rather successful in another major tournament in Marseilles. Other players this year are:

  • Magnus Gustafsson (1996 winner of the "St. Petersburg Cup")
  • Arnaud Clement of France, who at press time had reached the semi-final of Marseilles tournament
  • Jan Siemerink of the Netherlands, who is currently on the top 20 list in ATP ranking
  • Daniel Vacek of Czech Republic, regular participant of our tournament
  • Marat Safin, 19 year-old rising star of Russian tennis (at his age world-famous Yevgeniy Kafelnikov was only in the fourth hundred of ATP list)

Two major Russian players - the favorite of many local fans 33 years old Andrei Chesnokov and Andrei Cherkasov, who is playing rather successfully this season. Both of the receive Wild Card. Third Wild Card will be given to a representative of St. Petersburg, who has not yet been named at press time…




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