In late September, the ATP officially returned to China for the first time since 2019 with a pair of 250-level events in Chengdu and Zhuhai. A pre-pandemic calendar sees players back at the likes of the China Open and Shanghai Masters, mainstays of the post-US Open swing. But an emerging tournament has since joined the Asian swing as a dependable tour stop.
The Astana Open debuted in Kazakhstan three years ago behind mostly closed doors when the ATP offered up opportunities for promoters to stage events in new locations under single-year licenses, given the challenges presented by COVID-19. Astana thrived, resulting in the tournament’s return in 2021. Having purchased a permanent license at the end of that year, the event received a one-time elevation to 500 status in 2022.
Getting to this point has been a labor of love, much in part to the passion and imagination of Bulat Utemuratov, president of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation (KTF). For the past 16 years, more than $100 million has been invested locally by the entrepreneur and philanthropist to establish an all-encompassing infrastructure centered around delivering direct access to quality courts, high-level coaching and reliable financial assistance.