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The Tennis Masters Cup and the Shanghai story

By Richard Evans
Published: November 9, 2007

When Brad Drewett, a former touring pro who now runs the ATP's International office in Sydney, sat down with the mayor of Shanghai to discuss the possibility that the Tennis Masters Cup might move there in 2002, they ran into a problem: Of the available venues, only one really measured up. Then again, it didn't quite - not by a few meters.
"The Convention Center was the obvious place to play, as it had the capacity and was near downtown," Drewett recalled. "But the three vast halls were only 15 meters high. As a player, I didn't need to be told that lobs would be bouncing off the roof at that height," or nearly 50 feet.
It was then that Drewett discovered the level of interest in such a tournament. "Then we will build a fourth hall, at 18 meters for you," the mayor said.
Drewett chuckles at the memory. "It was a great reaction" and showed just how eager the Shanghai leaders were to secure what was then going to be the biggest international sporting event ever staged China.
"Drive past that Convention Center today and you will see the height of those halls differ. The one on the end was ours - three meters higher!"
That was in 2002, and after the success of that inaugural event - won by Lleyton Hewitt, the titleholder after he won the Cup in Sydney the year before - there was an almost instant commitment to building a new tennis stadium. The condition was that the year-end event, which involves the top eight finishers in the ATP rankings, would be brought back to Shanghai for at least three years.
So while the builders, accustomed to throwing up the 70-story skyscrapers that have propelled this amazing city deep into the 21st century, went to work on a state-of-the-art stadium, the tournament was moved to Houston for two years. It would be unfair to the enthusiastic and generous entrepreneur Jim McIngvale, known in Houston as Mattress Mack because of his furniture business, to suggest that it was like retreating to the previous century, but the Houston Racquet Club did tend to have a mom-and-pop feel about it after the modernity of Shanghai.
By 2005, everything was set for the return. The magnificent new stadium was ready to receive 15,000 spectators under a sliding roof and with double the capacity that had been possible three years earlier. But then disaster struck. First Andy Roddick and then Marat Safin pulled out injured. Then Hewitt announced that he was not going to leave his pregnant wife on the eve of the birth.
Roger Federer, Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal limped into town with a variety of ailments that were concealed, temporarily, by the beautiful silk Chinese jackets they wore at the round-table press conferences. But not for long. Agassi decided the ankle he had injured playing racquetball a few weeks before would not allow him to play and withdrew after losing his first round-robin match. Nadal pulled out before his first match with a foot injury.
"It was the perfect storm," said Drewett. "Total disaster. We were supposed to have the best eight players in the world and five pulled out. Talk about loss of face."
Federer soldiered on and eventually lost in the final to one of the replacements, David Nalbandian, but the Chinese hierarchy was not amused.
Luckily, the frequently divided tennis world was able to provide a united front for once, because the Tennis Masters Cup is jointly owned by the ATP and the International Tennis Federation. Mark Miles of the ATP and Francesco Ricci Bitti, president of the ITF, joined Drewett in trying to placate their hosts and somehow succeeded.
The new mayor of Shanghai and his team were persuaded that this was a very unusual happening. In fact, for more than one player to withdraw from this event was unique. It had always been the great goal of the year and champions from Rod Laver to John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl to Pete Sampras had always reveled in the feeling of being a member of the very elite.
It all started, under the guidance of the great pro promoter Jack Kramer, in Tokyo in 1970. The event, at first called simply The Masters, then moved through Paris, Boston, Barcelona and Houston before settling, in 1976, at Madison Square Garden, where it became a fixture of the New York sporting scene for many years.
When the ATP Tour was formed in 1990, Germany, led by the Boris Becker phenomenon, was the world's hottest tennis nation and it made economic sense to move the tournament to Europe. What became known as the ATP World Championship was held in Frankfurt and Hannover for the next nine years, producing some classic match-ups.
Renamed the Tennis Masters Cup, the event became nomadic again in 2000, moving to Lisbon and then Sydney before the China saga began.
Asia has been identified as an area where tennis is likely to flourish, especially as Chinese women players begin to make their mark. In the meantime, everything possible is being done to help the cause, as the Australian Open positions itself as a kind of Asia Grand Slam and offers wild cards to players from the Pacific Rim.
Providing there are no more perfect storms and order can be resumed, as it was last year when Federer beat James Blake in the final, there is no reason that the rapid growth of tennis in the region should not continue.
The tournament will make its last appearance in Shanghai in 2008, before moving to the London Docklands, but top-level tennis will continue in the city as a reworked ATP calendar will include the Asian Masters Series tournament in Shanghai in 2009.

Source: http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/11/09/sports/srshanghai.php?page=1
 

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Nice article thanks. :D
 

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There is something that I think is implied by this article that I find very interesting. It seems that when they made the deicision to go to Houston for two years, they (ATP/ITF) knew it was only a temporary solution while Shanghai finished construction, and that Mac would never be offered a contract extension. Mac sunk all that money into his facility because he wanted to keep the Masters Cup, but it looks like no one ever told him that was not an option and never would be.
 

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There is something that I think is implied by this article that I find very interesting. It seems that when they made the deicision to go to Houston for two years, they (ATP/ITF) knew it was only a temporary solution while Shanghai finished construction
I agree.

The intention was probably right away to concentrate on the Asia market (which has also been the case in other sports), especially with regard to the fact that Beijing holds the Olympic Games in 2008. As it is said in the article the ATP always goes to the country where the interest is. End of 70ies - to end of 80ies in the USA, in the 90ies in Germany.
 

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The Tennis Masters Cup and the Shanghai story

By Richard Evans
Published: November 9, 2007

When Brad Drewett, a former touring pro who now runs the ATP's International office in Sydney, sat down with the mayor of Shanghai to discuss the possibility that the Tennis Masters Cup might move there in 2002, they ran into a problem: Of the available venues, only one really measured up. Then again, it didn't quite - not by a few meters.
"The Convention Center was the obvious place to play, as it had the capacity and was near downtown," Drewett recalled. "But the three vast halls were only 15 meters high. As a player, I didn't need to be told that lobs would be bouncing off the roof at that height," or nearly 50 feet.
It was then that Drewett discovered the level of interest in such a tournament. "Then we will build a fourth hall, at 18 meters for you," the mayor said.
Drewett chuckles at the memory. "It was a great reaction" and showed just how eager the Shanghai leaders were to secure what was then going to be the biggest international sporting event ever staged China.
"Drive past that Convention Center today and you will see the height of those halls differ. The one on the end was ours - three meters higher!"
That was in 2002, and after the success of that inaugural event - won by Lleyton Hewitt, the titleholder after he won the Cup in Sydney the year before - there was an almost instant commitment to building a new tennis stadium. The condition was that the year-end event, which involves the top eight finishers in the ATP rankings, would be brought back to Shanghai for at least three years.
So while the builders, accustomed to throwing up the 70-story skyscrapers that have propelled this amazing city deep into the 21st century, went to work on a state-of-the-art stadium, the tournament was moved to Houston for two years. It would be unfair to the enthusiastic and generous entrepreneur Jim McIngvale, known in Houston as Mattress Mack because of his furniture business, to suggest that it was like retreating to the previous century, but the Houston Racquet Club did tend to have a mom-and-pop feel about it after the modernity of Shanghai.
By 2005, everything was set for the return. The magnificent new stadium was ready to receive 15,000 spectators under a sliding roof and with double the capacity that had been possible three years earlier. But then disaster struck. First Andy Roddick and then Marat Safin pulled out injured. Then Hewitt announced that he was not going to leave his pregnant wife on the eve of the birth.
Roger Federer, Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal limped into town with a variety of ailments that were concealed, temporarily, by the beautiful silk Chinese jackets they wore at the round-table press conferences. But not for long. Agassi decided the ankle he had injured playing racquetball a few weeks before would not allow him to play and withdrew after losing his first round-robin match. Nadal pulled out before his first match with a foot injury.
"It was the perfect storm," said Drewett. "Total disaster. We were supposed to have the best eight players in the world and five pulled out. Talk about loss of face."
Federer soldiered on and eventually lost in the final to one of the replacements, David Nalbandian, but the Chinese hierarchy was not amused.
Luckily, the frequently divided tennis world was able to provide a united front for once, because the Tennis Masters Cup is jointly owned by the ATP and the International Tennis Federation. Mark Miles of the ATP and Francesco Ricci Bitti, president of the ITF, joined Drewett in trying to placate their hosts and somehow succeeded.
The new mayor of Shanghai and his team were persuaded that this was a very unusual happening. In fact, for more than one player to withdraw from this event was unique. It had always been the great goal of the year and champions from Rod Laver to John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl to Pete Sampras had always reveled in the feeling of being a member of the very elite.
It all started, under the guidance of the great pro promoter Jack Kramer, in Tokyo in 1970. The event, at first called simply The Masters, then moved through Paris, Boston, Barcelona and Houston before settling, in 1976, at Madison Square Garden, where it became a fixture of the New York sporting scene for many years.
When the ATP Tour was formed in 1990, Germany, led by the Boris Becker phenomenon, was the world's hottest tennis nation and it made economic sense to move the tournament to Europe. What became known as the ATP World Championship was held in Frankfurt and Hannover for the next nine years, producing some classic match-ups.
Renamed the Tennis Masters Cup, the event became nomadic again in 2000, moving to Lisbon and then Sydney before the China saga began.
Asia has been identified as an area where tennis is likely to flourish, especially as Chinese women players begin to make their mark. In the meantime, everything possible is being done to help the cause, as the Australian Open positions itself as a kind of Asia Grand Slam and offers wild cards to players from the Pacific Rim.
Providing there are no more perfect storms and order can be resumed, as it was last year when Federer beat James Blake in the final, there is no reason that the rapid growth of tennis in the region should not continue.
The tournament will make its last appearance in Shanghai in 2008, before moving to the London Docklands, but top-level tennis will continue in the city as a reworked ATP calendar will include the Asian Masters Series tournament in Shanghai in 2009.

Source: http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/11/09/sports/srshanghai.php?page=1

:cool:
The extra 3-metres the Shanghai authorities approved for the convention centre [to extend it from 15->18 metres] proved to be necessary;)
Lleyton Hewitt`s winning top spin lob on match point at the end of a gruelling 5-setter with JCF in the 2002 final was close to 15-16 metres high:devil:
Just curious who wins the point when balls bounce off rooves @ indoor events [replay the point]:confused:
 

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Stadiums shouldn't be built for moonballers. :retard:
 
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