João Zilhão: “I’ll have a wildcard available for Roger Federer until the very last minute”

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The Millennium Estoril Open 2016 was officially presented this Thursday at the Hotel Cascais Miragem, Cascais. João Zilhão, the tournament director, spoke with the press after the ceremony and talked about the wildcards for the main draw.

“We offered a more than deserved wildcard to Gastão Elias, therefore at the moment there are two main draw and two qualifying wildcards available. The intent is to help Portuguese tennis and we will give priority to Portuguese players, even though we can have a “surprise” for a top player. We will only award a foreign player with a wildcard if he has great value to the tournament and charisma”, Zilhão said shortly after the presentation.

“Conversations have been made, I walked through the players’ lounge in Miami and got together with some managers and players. Decisions are wide open at the moment. There are other top-10 players that we would like to see here (besides Tsonga, the only top-10 player scheduled to play in the week of Millennium Estoril Open), but there are a couple of players outside the top-10 that can also deserve a wildcard.”

Two weeks after mentioning Roger Federer for the first time, João Zilhão said that he will “always have a wildcard available for Roger Federer until the very last minute. I met with his agent in Miami, we had a good chat and he [Federer] has good references about our project. Players talk between them and they all feel welcome in Cascais and Estoril. The food is great, as well as the hotel. It’s priceless. And then there is the undeniable charm of the area, which is gorgeous.”

“Federer has received a big offer to play in Istanbul, which is a tournament with unusual financial conditions played in the same week as our tournament, but didn’t want to play there. He can choose a solution that gives him good preparation for Madrid and Roland Garros here, in an environment that he enjoys, he is familiar with, and also that is safe and only an hour away from Madrid. He likes the country and the people. The decision is up to him. He knows he will get a wildcard if he asks for it.”

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Gaspar Ribeiro Lança

[email protected] | Dar palavras a um encontro de dois, três, quatro ou cinco sets, com ou sem tiebreak. Dar palavras a recordes, a histórias. Dar ténis a todos aqueles que o queiram. Mais, sempre mais. Foi com o objectivo de fazer chegar este capítulo do desporto a mais adeptos que fundei o Ténis Portugal em 2010. Cinco anos depois, fui convidado a ser co-responsável pela redação dos conteúdos do website, newsletter e redes sociais do Millennium Estoril Open.