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Qizhong to be renovated for Masters

THE Shanghai Qizhong Tennis Center is adding new courts and making additional renovations as it readies for the first-ever ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event to be held in the city in October.

The tennis venue in Minhang District had previously hosted the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup for five years.

But the scale of the new event is huge with a total of 99 matches to be played in just over a week - necessitating the additional measures.

The stadium's main roof will be opened, thus turning it into a 15,000-seat Open Court. The Grand Stand Court 2 will accommodate 5,000 spectators while Grand Stand Court 3 will seat 2,000. There will few other outdoor courts as well.

Construction is currently underway and is expected to be completed by August.

The tournament will be held from October 10 to 18.

Shanghai is the only stop in Asia for the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event. Eight other cities are scheduled to host it. The 9-day event will feature top names in the 56-player draw for singles and 24 pairs in doubles.

"We expect more than 150,000 spectators to join this new tennis experience for Asia in Shanghai," said Jiang Lan, general manager of Juss Event, which is organizing the event. "In terms of excellence in the caliber of matches, the difference between the Tennis Masters Cup and ATP Masters 1000 is simply in name."

A regular in Shanghai, world No. 2 Roger Federer has also backed the event.

"It's a chance for them (fans) to see this sort of tournament, and not just round-robin matches or simply big matches between stars. I think you need a real big tournament to get a sense of how the tennis tour works. They will get to see more stars, and many more matches. Also, the outside court will be much more alive."

The Swiss won back-to-back Tennis Masters Cup titles in 2006-07.

"Honestly I enjoy going back there. I really think I won over their (the fans') heart in the last few years."

Defending Masters Cup champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia is also looking forward to the trip.

"I am really looking forward to it," said Djokovic. "I must find some way to defend a title in Shanghai."

The ATP Masters 1000 is a series of nine tournaments.

Besides Shanghai, the other cities to host the events are Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo, Rome, Madrid, Montreal, Cincinnati and Paris. The "1000" refers to the ranking points earned by the winners in each tournament.

Players with ATP ranking points equal or better than top 45 shall be automatically entered by the ATP. All top 20 players are obligated to compete in these events except for the one in Monte Carlo.

The Shanghai Masters 1000 will also be the finale to a new three-week Asian Swing of the ATP World Tour, with warm-up tournaments to be held in Bangkok, Tokyo and Beijing.

Local fans can call 962288 for more information and can also book tickets from May 12.


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