London’s O2 remains host for World Tour finals until 2020
The World Tour Finals will continue to be held at London's O2 venue until 2020, writes Marianne Bevis
The ATP, the professional governing body of men’s tennis, has confirmed today that the climax of its tennis year, the World Tour Finals, will remain at London’s O2 until 2020.
At a special media event held at the top of one of London’s landmark sky-scrapers, The Shard, The ATP’s Executive Chairman and President, Chris Kermode, also announced that the new title sponsor will be one of Japan’s leading innovation companies, the Nitto Denko Corporation.
The Nitto ATP Finals, which brings together the eight highest ranked singles players and doubles pairs at the end of the season to compete for one of the most prestigious trophies in men’s tennis, began its residency at the O2 in 2009 after stretches under different banner names in cities across the globe from Shanghai to Houston, Germany to New York.
Kermode said today:
“We’re delighted to extend our stay in London and to have Nitto come on board as title sponsor over the next four years… in what is unquestionably one of the most exciting times in men’s professional tennis in recent memory.
Nitto President and CEO, Hideo Takasaki, added:
“We are very proud to become the title sponsor of the ATP Finals. Featuring the world’s top men’s professional tennis players, the ATP Finals fits very well with Nitto’s philosophy… We hope to accelerate our global brand promotion this year, and for our 100th anniversary in 2018, and beyond.
Last November, Andy Murray clinched the world No1 ranking by winning all five of his matches, two of them in record-setting three-setters. The end-of-year ranking came down to his title match with Novak Djokovic, and the Briton sealed victory to claim his first WTF title and the No1 ranking for the first time.
Murray said of the venue:
“The crowds throughout the week for both the singles and doubles are second to none, and that makes this one of the most special events for the players. It’s an amazing atmosphere and a great tournament to cap off the year.”
Every year has been a sell-out, with more than two million fans visiting the tournament since 2009. That popularity, and its location at one of the world’s tourism and population hubs, was almost certainly a key factor in extending the London contract.
There are, too, many logistical issues to be considered in the decision. The tournament comes at the end of a long and intense indoor hard-court swing as the tour heads from Asian in the autumn back across northern Europe to tournaments such as the ATP500s in Vienna and Basel and the last Masters of the year in Paris.
Given that there is less than week between Paris and the World Tour Finals, distance, time-zones, and playing environments have to be taken into consideration for the well-being of the players themselves. And while Djokovic suggested that the WTFs should be hosted in different cities to help drum up support with new audiences, and Rafael Nadal—the world’s most successful clay player—has long hoped that the event would switch to clay to boost his chances of winning the one big title to elude him, there are clearly compelling reasons for preserve the status quo. To do otherwise would likely require a wide-ranging re-configuration of several current tournaments—and probably the calendar as a whole.
But there is one more factor to consider when picking the playing environment, as pointed out by six-time champion Roger Federer. Three of the calendar’s Masters tournaments are played outdoors on clay; five are on outdoor hard courts; only one is played on an indoor hard court.
But as much as Federer has thrived indoors, he may still dream of playing at least one Masters event during the year on his much-loved grass—but a dream is what that is likely to remain in his few remaining years on the tour.
This year’s World Tour Finals will be held from 12 to 19 November, and tickets are already on sale.
The Race, as the tennis tour reaches the second Major of the year at Roland Garros, currently stands as follows:
1) Rafael Nadal
2) Roger Federer
3) Dominic Thiem
4) Alexander Zverev
5) David Goffin
6) Stan Wawrinka
7) Novak Djokovic
8) Grigor Dimitrov
9) Pablo Carreno Busta
10) Jack Sock