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ATP World Tour Finals 2010: bigger, better, earlier


 

Originally published on: 29/10/10 17:47

The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals promises to be bigger, better and to finish a little earlier this year after learning lessons from 2009, ATP Chief Executive Chris Kermode said yesterday.

Speaking at The O2 arena after welcoming this year’s Barclays Ball Kids squad to the venue on Thursday, Kermode discussed the improvements to the fan experience for this years ATP season finale.

“I think the obvious one was changing the start times for the evening sessions,” he said. “We’ve brought them forward to 8pm. They began at 8.45pm last year, and everyone – the fans, players and media – gave us the impression it was a bit too late.”

Relaying the group standings of the round robin stage within the arena will be improved after the confusion following Juan Martin del Potro’s victory over Roger Federer that saw the Argentine edge out Andy Murray for a spot in the semi-finals.

“We have an opportunity to tell the story of the event this year,” Kermode believes, “explaining the round robin system so that when it comes closer to the end of the week we’ll be able to say what implications certain matches have, like they do at the World Cup.”

Not only that, but fans will also get closer to the action outside of the main arena, with a new Fan Zone including two practice courts complete with 400 seats for spectators – open to anyone who visits the O2 free of charge, even non-ticket-holders.

“People who are within the O2 – who may be going to Indigo2, the cinema or the restaurant – can see the players in action. Hopefully that will inspire them to come and watch it live!”

While there have been plenty of changes made to this year’s event, two things remain the same. The slick wood-base court surface is set to return in 2010 after proving a hit with the players and fans last year.

“The court surface is a funny one,” admits Kermode. “You make them too quick and you are criticised as the matches go too quickly, make them to slow and the matches go on forever.

“You’ve got to try and pick a court that all players can play on – the guys with the big serves, the guys on the baseline, but I thought that last year the matches were spot on.”

Another 2009 fillip, ticket prices have once again been kept low enough to give as many members of the public as possible the chance to see the world’s top eight singles players and doubles pairs in action, with adult prices starting at £20 and children under 16 year of age eligible for tickets as cheap as £10 per session.

This year also marks the debut of the Barclays Ball Kids, a select group of 12-to-16-year-olds from across the country picked from the 1,601 entries received early in 2010.

“What attracted me to this was that it was a chance to get kids from up and down the country – it wasn’t just a London-based event,” said Kermode after launching the year-long search for the squad at last year’s event.

“I would have loved to have done it,” he added. “I know top players who have done it, and they say it was a turning point in their careers when they said, ‘that’s what I need to do to get to that level.’

“Where this tennis event is different is it’s accessible,” Kermode believes. “The chance to see the world’s top eight players playing is open to everybody.

“It’s just great to see that in London, in the UK, there is room for another tennis event – it quite clearly shows the demand for tennis in this country. Full stadiums are what I’d really love to see, and we’re very honoured to have the top eight guys playing here.”

Do you have what it takes to be a Barclays Ball Kid? Pre-registration for the 2011 trials is open NOW  – click here for more details.

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