Faster than a fuzzy yellow ball zipping over a net, the ATP World Tours Finals havequickly established itselfnot just the unmissable curtain-closing climax to the international men’s tennis season, but also a major sporting event in the UK capital. And next week (November 15 to 22), it will be returning to London for another year – ensuring it’s the only ticket in town for tennis lovers visiting the city this autumn.
Plunging its venue, the vast O2 Arena, into darkness, the eight-day event is sport as pure theatre, asevery pair of spectators’ eyes are trained on the high-octane action taking place on the iconic blue court below.With its capacity of 17,800, the O2 Arena is a truly spectacular place to play host to this exceptional end-of-year contest – a battle each between the world’s eight best ranked men’s singles players and the world’s eight best ranked men’s doubles pairs, which will see at least $1.75m go to the winner of the former contest and $271,000 go to the winners of the latter contest.
Needless to say, this year’s event will see the biggest male tennis names on Earth competing for the glory and riches. Among them world number one Novak Djokovic, the tennis genius that’s Roger Federer and the redoubtably talented Rafael Nadal, as well as Stan Wawrinka, Tomáš Berdych, David Ferrer, Kei Nishikori and, of course, Britain’s own – and current world number two – Andy Murray.Last year, the supercharged Serb and defending champion Djokovic defeated the Spanish matador Nadal to retain his crown – but who’ll triumph this year? Whatever the results and the eventual champions in the singles and doubles events, the 30 matchesin all promise to be exciting, dramatic sporting competition of the very highest contest and quality.
No question, former tennis player and pundit Barry Cowan (interviewed by SkySports.com) can’t wait.“You go in right from the word go against someone from the top eight, which is the only time it happens in the year,” he said. “Djokovic is clearly the favourite and you must look to Federer, but I think Rafa will be there or thereabouts … It’s the last tournament of the year – [so potentially for each player] it’s five matches against the very best”.
On the topic of Andy Murray competing in his home country – and playing in the prestigious Davis Cup Final just a few, short weeks later – he added: “I think it’s the perfect preparation. He can’t just focus on the Davis Cup. He needs matches … I think Andy is such a winner and he’s not played his best tennis in previous years at The O2. The spotlight is on British tennis for two weeks, with The O2 and the Davis Cup final”.
The 2015 World Tour Tennis Finals will be the sixth in succession to be hosted by Greenwich’sO2 Arena. Although a venueinitially used to stage live music acts, thanks in no small part to it becoming the home of the ATP’s elite end-of-year knockout tournament, the locationhas emerged to become one of London’s main indoor, multi-purpose sports stadiums.
Public transport stops for the O2 Arena
- London Underground: North Greenwich station (2 minutes’ walk away)
- Overground rail: Maze Hill station (25 minutes’ walk away)orWestcombe Park station (27 minutes’ walk away)
Anyone for Up At The O2?
If you manage to secure tickets to the tennis, you might also be up for, well, literally going up – on the O2 itself. Because now you can take a guided walk over the hugely successful music and sport venue, giving you a view of the world famous, domed structure from an entirely new perspective.
For the adventurous then, before – or after – a spot of fine dining (restaurants West End London-style) and tennis-viewing, the ‘Up At The O2’may really hit the spot. Standing 53 metres above ground, the 190-metre-long fabric walkwayis suspended from the building’s yellow masts; ensuring visitors (having been decked out in special climbing suits, shoes and safety harnesses)are guided in groups to a central observation platform.
Granted, this attraction may sound like a physical challenge, but given it’s open to people aged 10-years-old and up, you can be fairly well assured it won’t be too taxing – if you’re fit and healthy and not afraid of heights! – in order to gain a spectacular view of the London skyline from atop one of its most iconic modern landmarks.