Professional tennis tournaments start with 32 players playing one-on-one matches. After the ﬁrst round, the 16 winners stay and the other 16 leave. In the next round, the eight winners remain and eight disappointed players leave and so on.
In these tournaments, in addition to prize money, there are also appearance fees, which are paid to celebrity players just to participate, regardless of the results. The Kremlin Cup tournament was no different, especially when one of the goals was improving Russia’s image in the world.
Sasson: To my surprise, one of these prestigious players lost a match on the opening day of the tournament, to a player who was ranked much lower. I was shocked! Players who get appearance fees usually do their best to win the tournament too!
I went to his dressing room, totally devastated, and asked him how it could be. He told me the most unbelievable story: “Last night I went with some other tennis players to a discotheque, and we hung out with some Russian girls that we met there. One of them, a stunning woman, invited me to spend the night with her at her place. And what a nightmare it was! All of a sudden she had a huge knife in her hand, and all night she pointed it at me and at herself, shouting: who should I kill ﬁrst? Myself of you?” The poor guy hadn’t slept all night, and was still terriﬁed.
I understood him, but was nevertheless frustrated. I had paid him appearance fee and brought him to Russia in order to win the tournament! What bad luck! Or maybe good luck? Who knows?