What is the Shanghai Masters in tennis?

In 1996, Andrei Olhovskiy of Russia won the first ever tournament that was held in China’s biggest city, Shanghai. Till 2001, this tournament was held annually on a regular basis. The tournament played was a part of the ATP International series, now known as the ATP 250. Its impressive rise since then has led to it being one of the most elite tennis tournament. Today, the tournament is one of the Masters event or the ATP 1000 event on the tennis tour.

Ever since its inception in 1996, the tennis tournament held in Shanghai quickly became one of the most famous sporting events in Asia. After the first six years, Shanghai was chosen as the venue to hold the year-end championships, then known as the Tennis Masters Cup. The event was a success as it saw the then World No.1, Lleyton Hewitt win the title.

Shanghai New Interbational Expo Center was where the year end championships of 2002 were played. At the same venue for the next two years, the tournament held its original International Series event. In 2004, a new stadium’s construction began at the Quizhong Forest Sports City Arena. This was because Shanghai was given the contract to hold the year-end championships from 2005 – 2008.

In the four years where Shanghai was the host of the Masters Cup, it saw David Nalbandian win the event in 2005, Roger Federer in 2006 & 2007 and Novak Djokovic in 2008.

In 2009, the ATP renamed all of its tournament series. The ATP Masters Series became the ATP Masters 1000. Shanghai was upgraded to this elite category. In the calendar, Shanghai replaced the event at Madrid which was given a different time period. The year-end championships moved to the O2 Arena in London.

When the first Shanghai Masters were held, new courts were constructed. Two new stadiums, Grand Stand Court 2 and Grand Stand Court 3 were made with a combined capacity of 8000. In 2016, the ATP released an infographic which showed that the hard Decoturf courts of Shanghai were the fastest among the Masters tournaments.

The tournament features a draw of 56 players. 44 or 45 players get a direct entry based on their rankings. Four are selected as wildcards whereas seven are chosen based on their performance in the qualifying draw. The singles matches are played in best-of-three sets format with all sets featuring a tiebreak. Doubles matches too are played as best-of-three set matches an follows a no-ad scoring format. Moreover, the third set is a match tiebreak.

Ever since it became a Masters event, the tournament is dominated by Novak Djokovic who has won the title four times. Leander Paes spearheads the list of most titles won in the doubles event with a total count of three titles. Starting from 2009 up until 2013, Shanghai was awarded the ATP Masters 1000 event of the year award. As of 2023, the Shanghai Masters has a prize money of $88,00,000.

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