In the capital of the United Kingdom takes place one of the biggest international tennis events, the Masters Cup, the greatest tournament of the season, which brings together all of the best tennis players uniting them in an event that has been held continuously for almost half a century. We will now delve into some of its history, some of it’s greatest duels, and some of the secrets of what is considered one of the most popular indoor tournaments in the world.
Officially known as the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, the Masters Cup takes place every year on the courts of the O2 Arena in London, enjoying a reputation which over the years has even overshadowed those of the Open USA, Wimbledon, Roland Garros and Australian Open; It is the last event on the ATP calendar, putting the final touch to the tennis season.
Getting a ticket for the competition sponsored by Barclays is a challenge of its own; Only eight players are involved, seven of them are selected according to their ATP ranking, while the eighth is reserved for the winner of the last Grand Slam. All contestants seek glory in this very
special event, where the most famous tennis players in history have all left their mark: Roger Federer, David Nalbandian, Lleyton Hewitt, Novak Djokovic, Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg and Andre Agassi are just to name a few.
The prize money awarded is nothing to frown upon either, with last year’s edition awarding 6,500,000 dollars to its winner – However this pales in comparison to the recognition and satisfaction which is earned whilst being crowned victor in the London Pavilion.
A Court Made For Legends
It all began in 1970, with a celebration known as the Masters Grand Prix, a name which was continually used until the end of the 80s decade, whilst being sponsored by companies such as: Pepsi-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive and Volvo, just showing how much it had captured the public’s interest. Organized by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the event brought all the most famous players at the same time together, and it would be Stan Smith who would eventually take the victory.
In 1990, a major development would affect the tournament – The Association of Tennis Professionals would rename the ‘Masters’ to ‘ATP Tour World Championship’; For the first time points gathered in previous tournaments would add to the overall world rankings; At the same time yet another tournament would be organized by the ITF known as the ‘Grand Slam Cup’.
This would all come to an end in 1999, when both agencies would agree to unify, creating the ‘Tennis Masters Cup’, reducing the number of players to eight, and creating many of the rules we know today. Since 2009, the name of the tournament has not changed, however it has been held in countless locations such as: Tokyo, Paris, Barcelona, Melbourne and New York, with Frankfurt and Hanover being the cities where the most editions of the tournament have been held.
Since the very beginning, the duels between these tennis masters have always set the tone and been the big draw of the tournament; With epic encounters such as those of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, Foger Federer and Rafael Nadal, or the most recent between Nadal and Djokovic, its clear to see why it has attracted so much attention and fame. Fortune however has not been favourable for Spanish players, with the exception being Alex Corretja, beating fellow compatriot Carlos Moyá in 1998. Juan Carlos Ferrero, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer have always fallen short at getting the gold, however considering how famous the sport is becoming in Spain, partly in thanks to the Academia de Tenis de Nadal in Manacor, there’s no doubt that new players will rise to follow in Corretja’s footsteps.
This year’s tournament will be held November 15th; Djokovic will try to make history by getting his fourth Masters Cup in a row – Something yet to be seen in the competition, and with opponents such as Stan Wawrinka, Rodger Federer and other such tennis legends, it’s safe to say that excitement is guaranteed; We are clearly approaching one of the most intense tournaments to date.