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Tournament director Straka receives the Gold Medal of Merit

Tournament director Straka receives the Gold Medal of Merit

The state of Vienna honors a Styrian player for his services at the ATP 500 tournament held in the federal capital.

Herwig Straka received the Vienna State Gold Order of Merit from City Councilor Peter Hanke on Saturday between the semi-finals of the Erste Bank Open in the Wiener Stadthalle. The 57-year-old, from Graz, has been tournament director of the Erste Bank Open since 2008 and, over the past 15 years, has grown the local tennis scene into Austria’s highest-paid and frequent sporting event with significant international appeal. A crucial step towards achieving this was the event’s upgrade to the ATP 500 tournament in 2015. Last year, the sound barrier of 70,000 visitors was broken for the first time – a number that will be surpassed this year.

For his achievements in connection with the Erste Bank Open, Straka was awarded the Vienna State Gold Order of Merit from City Councilor of Finance and Economics Peter Hanke. “Thanks to Herwig Straka, this tournament has put Vienna in the spotlight as a worldwide sporting venue. The tournament is not only of crucial importance for the sports city of Vienna, but it is also one of the most economically successful events in the city and thus also plays an important role for tourism in Vienna. Today we honor a very great fellow humanitarian who, with his zeal for the cause, removed all obstacles even in the most difficult times and made the seemingly impossible possible. If Herwig Straka had not been around, Vienna would certainly not be such a constant star on the world tennis calendar,” Hanke emphasized at the presentation of the Gold Medal of Merit on the center court of the Wiener Stadthal.

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Straka: “This form of recognition is not a given.”

He added: “I am very happy to receive this award on a historic day for the tournament. For the first time, four stars from the top seven in the world rankings will advance to the semi-finals in Vienna, at a sold-out Vienna Stadtthal. They both make me very proud and are a great confirmation of the path we have taken with the Erste Bank Open. I would like to thank Peter Hanke and the City of Vienna very much for this award and good cooperation. This kind of recognition is something I don’t take for granted, which makes me appreciate it even more. “At the same time, this is an incentive to continue developing the tournament with my team over the next few years in order to continue to provide fans with unforgettable tennis moments and world-class sports at the Erste Bank Open,” Straka said.