Month: November 2020

ATP 250 AstanaOpentennis tournament was held in Kazakhstanfor the first time. How it was

From 26 October to 1 November Kazakhstan, for the first time, hosted the prestigious tennis tournament of ATP 250 series.Players from the first hundred of the men’s rating came to Astana Open. The Kazakhstan Tennis Federation was able to organize a tennis week in a short time at the highest level. Bright victories and offensive defeats, competitive spirit and incomparable emotions of the winner John Millman – all this filled the courts of the National Tennis Centre during these seven days.

Tournament during the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic made its corrections almost in all sectors, including the tournament calendar. Many competitions were postponed, some were completely cancelled. As a result, not so many rating tournaments have been played for the year. At long last, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) decided to hold four additional tournaments at the end of the year, choosing Kazakhstan as the location for one of them.

As initially the tournament was not included in the calendar, the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation had just six weeks to arrange it. Players also had to take urgent decisions on their participation. Nobody knew what to expect from this new tournament, many came to Nur-Sultan for the first time, and the globalCovid-19 situation only added to the uncertainty.

National tennis centre in Nur-Sultan

Despite all this, quite a strong lineup of participants gathered for Astana Open, which included the World number 28Benoit Paire, number 39 Adrian Mannarino, well known to tennis fans for  their performances at Grand Slam tournaments Fernando Verdasco, Frances Tiafoe and a whole galaxy of young promising players rivaling for rating points.

John Millman’s victory

The winner of Astana Open –Australian tennis player John Millman – has rightly earned 250 rating points and the money prize of 13,000 dollars. His path to the final was not easy. He first downed the famous Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, and then, in hard three-set duels, revealing an outrageous will to win, defeated Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe.

Astana Open winner John Millman

In the final, John Millman had a very troublesome rival – French tennis player Adrian Mannarino. Millman managed to take over the first set, and this determined the final’s outcome. Before that, Mannarino has not been inferior to anyone in this tournament, and when this happened, he became noticeably nervous, which allowed John Millman to calmly finish the match in his favor: 7:5, 6:3.

Mikhail Kukushkin played the best of all Kazakhstani tennis players at the tournament. He made it to the quarterfinals, beating the first seeded Benoit Paire.

Mikhail Kukushkin after his victory over Benoit Paire


Fans from Nur-Sultanwere, of course, very disappointed when organisers announced that the event of such a scale would take place in Nur-Sultan with no spectators allowed. Only a small number of tournament personnel regularly tested for the coronavirus infection were allowed into the stands.

All surfaces were regularly disinfected

This year players started to get used to the situation when their scored goals were not accompanied by loud applause. In Nur-Sultan, this was replaced by a recording of the sounds of a jubilant crowd. But one can do nothing about this. Anyhow, the main thing for tennis players is the opportunity to get tournament practice and rating points.

The tournament has every chance to become annual

All players were also tested forCovid-19 every four days. Due to the strict regulations, tennis players did go out for excursions and could not walk in the city, they traveled only from the hotel to courts and backwards. But even this was enough for them to have nice impressions of their trip.

The semi-finalist of the tournament, Frances Tiafoe, said that he did not expect such a heavy snowfall already on the first game day, and called Nur-Sultan a very pleasant city.

Astana Open winner John Millman repeatedly noted the excellent conditions that the organizers created for the players during the tournament.

Tennis players, organizers and, of course, Kazakhstani fans hope that Nur-Sultan will be a permanent location in the ATP calendar.

“When the opportunity came to play at Astana Open, I did not hesitate for a minute. This is one of the best tournaments where I have played. I am sure that this tournament should become an annual event, because I enjoyed every minute being a guest in this beautiful country,” said John Millman.

Ceremony of awarding Astana Open finalists

Tournament Director Attila Richter thanked the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation and its President Bulat Utemuratov at the closing awards ceremony for the opportunity to hold this first, historical for Kazakhstan, tournament.

“I do very much hope that everyone stayed pleased. Looking forward to see you again in Nur-Sultan next year,” he said.

Photo by Andrey Udartsev, KTF

Autumn fairy tale: Botanical Garden breaks all attendance records after its reconstruction

The Botanical Garden was visited by 5,000 people over October weekends – earlier such figures were registered only after its opening, when visits were free of charge. To avoid ticket office queues, the Garden launched online sales of tickets.

After the reconstruction initiated and sponsored by Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation, the Central Botanical Garden of Almaty became the favourite place for the city inhabitants to visit. The number of guests does not fall down even with the first cold spells. People come here to escape from the city hustle and bustle, walk outdoors, enjoy the autumn beauty and just take pictures in the bosom of nature.

“In summer, after the opening, access to the garden was free of charge for a while. Naturally, everybody wanted to see how the garden changed, and the attendance on those days was record- breaking – 5,000 people a day. Then the access became chargeable and the flow slightly decreased at first, but it constantly grew from month to month. The average attendance in summer was 3,400 people a day, in autumn – 2,600. But there were spikes on weekends, when the number of visitors again reached 5,000 people,” says Director of the Institute of Botany and Phytointroduction Gulnara Sitpayeva.

To avoid crowds at the entrance, the Botanical Garden management introduced the online
purchase of tickets. So far the service is available for Beeline subscribers, from mid-November it
will be available in the mobile application too.

“For the convenience of our visitors, we have launched sales of entrance tickets by means of text
messages sent to a short number 5505. This mode can so far be used by Beeline subscribers only.
From 10 November sales of tickets in К and My Beeline applications will start,”
continues Gulnara Sitpayeva.

In October, for the second time after the opening, the Botanical Garden management held yet another fair of plants where the city people could buy house flowers.

“The has being held for a week, next to the conservatory. We were selling pot plants grown in our conservatory and greenhouses. Succulents were in the greatest demand. Prices varied from 500 to 2,000 tenge. We plan to hold such sales on a regular basis. You also can buy from us some planting material for allotment gardens – there are various kinds of trees and shrubs, the survivability of which we guarantee,” emphasizes the head of the institute.

In addition, they resumed excursions carried out in the Botanical Garden. The management hopes that the excursions will be popular among schoolchildren. The groups are meant to be small due to the epidemiological situation in the country. Compliance with sanitary standards is strictly monitored: entrance is allowed only in a face-mask, markings for social distance and sanitizers for hand treatment are available.

“We are launching regular excursion days from November: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. Excursions are conducted by our dendrologists in the Russian and Kazakh languages. Several routes have been developed. The tour lasts an hour and a half. During the excursions, you can learn a lot of interesting things about the history of the Botanical Garden itself, as well as about individual plants, which we are especially proud of – because we have plants from different continents; we have rare Red Book plants. A publication dedicated to excursions in the Botanical Garden will be released by a publishing house in the nearest future,” says Gulnara Sitpayeva.

Currently they are preparing the garden for winter: cutting roses, covering them with chipped wood. Works will be carried out to prevent freezing of the root system of magnolias and sakuras planted during the reconstruction, crowns of Japanese maples and rhododendrons will be sheltered for the winter. Swans from the restored pond have already been transported to the zoo’s covered pavilions for the winter. Fish will stay in the pond for the winter, just like out in the wild.

“In the nearest future we plan to hold master classes for visitors, fairs, arrangement of topic- specific picture zones. Only outdoor leisure events are envisaged in the garden, therefore all activities will take into account weather conditions. And we also have no objective to turn the Botanical Garden into the place for entertainments, our primary mission is scientific research and environmental protection, and the purpose of events is to raise the level of the ecological education and the environmental culture,” notes our interlocutor.

Unlike parks, the Botanical Garden has documented collection funds of plants that is the heritage and pride of Kazakhstan. The plant funds are dated back to 1932. In the near prospective, the Institute of Botany and Phytointroduction plans to undertake:

  • research of plants for greening of various regions of Kazakhstan;
  • renovation of laboratory buildings and equipping them with modern scientific equipment and special machinery to take care of plants;
  • overhaul of the conservatory and greenhouse complex and replication of the commercially valuable assortment of indoor plants.

“After the completion of the Botanical Garden reconstruction project, Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation is financing the drawing up of the design and estimate documentation for the conservatory renovation. Also, landscape architect Nelly Lapteva continues to support and provide expert advice on some works related to completed plantings. We will continue the work through collaboration with partners and our own events to strengthen the garden’s position as the favourite place to visit for inhabitants and guests of Almaty and as a place that promotes raising both educational and cultural levels of the population. We believe that the entire culture of the society starts from the culture of attitude to the environment,” summarised Gulnara Sitpayeva.

Reconstruction of the Botanical Garden was initiated in 2018 by Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation and completed in June 2020. The purpose of this project was restoration of the Botanical Garden while preserving its territory entirety and distinctiveness, infrastructure modernisation and multiplication of the green reserves. Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation allocated for the reconstruction 15 million dollars.

Aussie Millman claims debut ATP title in Astana

Australian John Millman claimed his debut ATP title with a 7-5, 6-1 win over France’s Adrian Mannarino at the Astana Open on Sunday.

The 31-year-old’s career milestone came at his third appearance in an ATP final after Tokyo in 2019 and Budapest the season before.

This was the world number 45’s third win over Mannarino in as many meetings and he achieved it by saving all six break points and breaking serve three times.

For the Frenchman this loss in Nur-Sultan was his ninth in 10 ATP finals, his lone success coming on the grass of s’Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands last year.

The pair could conceivably meet for a fourth time next week at the Paris Masters.


Millman claims maiden title with victory at Astana Open

(Reuters) – Australian fourth seed John Millman beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 7-5 6-1 in the final of the Astana Open to claim his maiden ATP Tour title on Sunday.

Millman had previously lost two finals in his career but cruised to the title after a tough opening set, breaking Mannarino three times in the contest and denying the third seed a single break.

Millman saved five break points in the opening set which went with serve until he got the crucial break at 6-5 to take the lead.

The second set was one-way traffic after the opening two games, however, with Millman winning five games in a row as Mannarino’s unforced error count continued to climb.

The 31-year-old Australian was nearly knocked out earlier in the tournament when he saved two match points against Tommy Paul in the quarter-finals and fought back from a set down to overcome Frances Tiafoe in the semi-finals.


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