The Chinese promoters of Tennis Masters Cup, co-owned by the ATP, ITF, and Grand Slams, have extended their commitment for Shanghai to host the elite eight-man and eight-team tournament through 2008.
Shanghai, which last year hosted the circuit finale for the first year of a three-year commitment, will now host the tournament for a minimum of four consecutive years, running into 2008.
The extension reflects the booming popularity of tennis in China and the success of the Masters Cup in Shanghai in 2002 and 2005. Last year's Tennis Masters Cup was played at the state-of-the-art Qi Zhong Tennis Center in the city's south west Minhang district, built specially for the event.
"The Qi Zhong Stadium is a testament of the Shanghai Government's commitment both to tennis and the Tennis Masters Cup," said Brad Drewett, Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai Tournament Director. "Together with Ba-shi, the Shanghai Administration of Sport has already staged two outstanding Tennis Masters Cup events, and we can now look forward to building on these successes for at least another three years. I am confident the Masters Cup will continue to play its significant role in the development and popularity of tennis in Shanghai and China."
"It's known to all that the 2008 Olympic Games will be held in Beijing. We hope the Tennis Masters Cup can add to the prestige of the 'Sports Year.' And we are fully confident that the Masters Cup in 2008 will be more successful than ever," said Qiu Weichang, the Deputy Director of the Shanghai Administration of Sports.
ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said, "It is very good news for tennis, and particularly for tennis in China, that the Tennis Masters Cup will remain in Shanghai through, at least, 2008. There will be many milestones for tennis in China over the next few years with the Olympic Tennis Event in Beijing and three more outstanding editions of the tournament season-ending championships in Shanghai."
The President of the Shanghai Ba-shi Company Wang Liqun said, "We are very honored and proud that the Tennis Masters Cup will extend its stay in Shanghai for one more year because for us, the event has always been a long term commitment. We are also thrilled that the eyes of the world will be focused on China in 2008 with Beijing hosting the world at the Olympic Games and Shanghai continuing to stage the Tennis Masters Cup."
"What our friends at the Shanghai Administration of Sport and Ba-shi Industrial have created in Shanghai is stunning," said ATP Executive Chairman & President Etienne de Villiers. "Not just an incredible complex but an infrastructure and passion for tennis to continue to build the Tennis Masters Cup into one of the world's elite sporting events. The city of Shanghai has embraced this tournament with our partners at the Grand Slams and ITF, and we all look forward to returning this year and for many years ahead."
Geoff Pollard, Chairman of the Australian Open said, "Tennis in the Asia-Pacific region will continue to benefit from having the Tennis Masters Cup remain in Shanghai for at least one additional year. This region will be a focal point for our sport over the next few years with the tennis calendar beginning in Australia and finishing with the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in China."
Shanghai first hosted Tennis Masters Cup in 2002, when the tournament was staged at the International Expo Center and Lleyton Hewitt won the title. In 2005 Argentine David Nalbandian was crowned champion after defeating two-time defending champion Roger Federer in a fifth-set tie-break in one of the season's most riveting matches.
(masters-cup.com March 15, 2006)