WTA Finals

Shenzhen, China To Become New Host City For WTA Tour Finals

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced its selection of the city of Shenzhen, China to host the WTA Finals, the most prestigious event on the WTA calendar, from 2019 through 2028.

Gemdale Corporation, one of China’s largest and leading real estate developers, submitted the winning bid. The company’s bid includes building a state-of-the-art venue in the city’s downtown area, with seating for 12,000 people, and record prize money of $14 million for the Top 8 singles players and Top 8 doubles teams, double the previous purse.

“It gives me great pleasure to announce that the dynamic city of Shenzhen has been chosen to host the WTA Finals, the WTA’s crown jewel season finale, for the next decade,” said Steve Simon, WTA CEO and Chairman. “This will easily be the largest and most significant WTA Finals deal in the 45 years since the WTA was founded and promises to take the event to a spectacular new level.”

“Shenzhen is an exciting, fast-evolving metropolis of 68 million people and staging the WTA Finals there will ensure the WTA’s global fan base goes from strength to strength,” added Micky Lawler, WTA President. “As China’s new generation of players follow in the footsteps of Li Na, the local fans will have their own national heroines to cheer, but we also know from our existing events in the region led by the China Open that they will support all of the stars of the WTA with tremendous enthusiasm.”

“Shenzhen is honored to have been selected as host for the WTA Finals,” said Liu Fengning, General Manager, Shenzhen Gemdale Sports Industry Co., Ltd. “This world class event will attract local and foreign tennis fans and add to Shenzhen’s reputation as an outward-looking and vibrant global city. We embrace the WTA’s values of inclusiveness and equality, and are grateful for the opportunity to add to China’s tennis legacy by staging an event that encourages young generations to take up the sport.”

Billie Jean King, pioneer and founder of the WTA, remarked, “It is absolutely incredible to witness the growth of the WTA season-ending event and Shenzhen will be a fantastic home for the WTA Finals. The first Finals were played in 1972, in Boca Raton, Florida, before the WTA was formed, and had $100,000 in total prize money. The record setting $14 million purse set for Shenzhen reflects the global strength of our sport and how Shenzhen and China have embraced women’s tennis.”

Sam Stosur, WTA Player Council member, former World No.1 doubles and World No.4 singles commented, “I am really impressed by the sheer magnitude of the offer that Shenzhen has made. The increased prize money and the construction of an amazing new stadium with naming rights is incredible. But significantly, the financial backing and government commitment is an exceptional investment in the WTA that will help us to develop women’s tennis in all corners of the world for years to come. It’s an exciting day and time for me and for all of our WTA players.”

WTA World No.1 Simona Halep, who was runner-up at the WTA Finals in Singapore in 2014 and won the Shenzhen Open in 2015 and 2018, said, “I have chosen to start my season in Shenzhen for a few years now, and I am thrilled that the city has been selected to stage the WTA Finals.” Halep added, “It’s a fascinating and friendly place, with some of the best tennis fans in the world. I know the WTA’s partners in Shenzhen will deliver a wonderful and memorable experience for the players, fans and sponsors.”

2019 will mark the 49th staging of the WTA Finals (with the inaugural staging in 1972). There have been 21 different winners in the event’s history with champions from 13 different nations including Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams.

Shenzhen is set to become the 10th different city – and the second in Asia – to host the WTA Finals following Boca Raton (1972-1973), Los Angeles (1974-1976, 2002-2005), Oakland (1978), New York City (1977, 1979-2000), Munich (2001), Madrid (2006-2007), Doha (2008-2010), Istanbul (2011-2013) and Singapore (2014-2018).

Since 2008, when the WTA began its strategic priority to grow the brand and tournament footprint in China and the wider Asia-Pacific region, attendance, broadcast and digital exposure have soared as new audiences have embraced the sport.

A new record was set on the ground at the WTA Finals in 2017 as the event welcomed 133,000 fans, the largest attendance over the four years in Singapore. Overall, WTA social media initiatives increased fan engagement globally, with total social video views growing from 22.9 million in 2016 to 27.8 million in 2017.

Safina has “No Return”, Li Na Continues Year of Firsts and Tipsarevic Joins Winner’s Circle

Safin says Safina is Done:

Marat Safin says that his little sister Dinara Safina is finished on the tennis circuit. The former world No.1 has not been seen since May and has struggled tremendously over the past two years with a back injury that has seriously limited her playing time. She has dropped as low as No.129 in the world. “Dinara was injured two years ago, in Beijing, remember?” Safin told Eurosport.  “She left, but never recovered completely. She tried to return, but only aggravated the crisis. Now she needs to keep her back to be able to walk normally and live a normal life. [Her back] will continue to be treated, but she will play no more…She will make an official statement herself, but as her brother, I believe that there is no chance of return.”

Firsts Continue for Li Na:

Li Na’s record-breaking year continues as she becomes the first Chinese player to qualify to play singles at the year-ending WTA Finals. She joins Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka in guaranteeing her place in Istanbul. $5m will be shared out among the players as the tournament switches from a two-year stint in Doha and Li will be hoping for a large slice of the spoils. “This year has been the most successful of my career so far and I’m very happy to have qualified for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships,” Li said. “I’m proud to be the first Chinese woman to qualify in singles for this event and I look forward to some tough matches against the best players of the season.” In January she became the first Asian player to reach a Grand Slam final at the Australian Open and she bettered that in June by becoming Asia’s first winner at the French Open. She has also become Asia’s highest-ranked player this year, peaking at No.4 on the WTA World Rankings.

Tipsarevic Nets Maiden Title:

Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic has finally rid himself of the unwanted mantra of being the only player in the ATP Top 20 not to win a title. He defeated Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in the Malaysian Open final 6-4, 7-5 to win an ATP Tour final at the fifth time of asking. “It feels great. I think I deserved it,” said the 27-year-old. “I’m so happy that it came in a good place, at a tournament that is really, really nice, and against a good player. Marcos Baghdatis has played in 11 finals and was a former Top 10 player, a Grand Slam finalist. So I feel happy that I won against a great player in a final that I hope kept the fans on the edge of their seats until the very end. I could not be happier.” Over in Bangkok, world No.4 Andy Murray was way too strong for American Donald Young as he annihilated the man who had embarrassed him in the first round at Indian Wells 6-2, 6-0. “In terms of the way I’m playing it’s very good to get off to a start like that on this stretch and hopefully I can continue that through Shanghai,” said the Scot. “It’s a very good start. Roger [Federer] always plays very well on the European indoor courts, so I’m sure I’m going to have to win a lot more matches if I want to finish No.3 [in the world this year]. That’s the goal and I’ll keep working hard to give myself a shot at doing that.”

Djokovic Makes Rafa “Nervous”:

Toni Nadal thinks that his nephew Rafa may be getting nervous when he faces Novak Djokovic after he watched him fall at the Serb’s feet six times this year. “It is clear that there have been too many losses and it is true that Rafael has become nervous [during] their recent matches and so far, there is the reality that Djokovic is playing superior to the rest….I hope it does not last forever,” he said. “Rafael’s type of game has worked well against Djokovic and has been very spirited. We must return to make a change, not [in] his game, but of mentality and try to win again.”

Federer Second Biggest Sporting Brand:

Forbes have named Roger Federer the second biggest sporting brand in the world, behind one of the other three ‘Gillette Champions’ Tiger Woods. “Federer holds the most impressive endorsement portfolio in all of sports with 10 major deals, including a Nike sponsorship that is the most lucrative in all of tennis,” said Forbes. “He is also the only one of Gillette’s original three ‘Champions’ to have his deal renewed this year as the brand dropped Tiger Woods and Thierry Henry.” Earlier this year, Forbes listed Federer 25th in its annual list of the world’s 100 most influential celebrities.

Ivanovic Returning to Bali:

Ana Ivanovic will return to the Bali setting of her Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions win in November after receiving the first wild card in to the tournament courtesy of the organisers. The event brings together the eight best performers over the year’s International series of WTA tournaments and the 24-year-old will be given the chance to defend her title. “It almost goes without saying Bali is one of the most beautiful places on the tennis circuit – probably the best, in fact,” Ivanovic said. “I had a wonderful time there last year. Off the court I was able to relax on the beach, but on the court I played some of my best tennis and was so happy to win the title.”

Savic Banned for Match Fixing:

Serbian tennis player David Savic has been banned for life from professional tennis after being found guilty of match fixing. The 26-year-old world No.659 was also fined $100,000 after being found guilty of three violations. He is only the second player to be found guilty of such charges after Germany’s Daniel Koellerer was also banned in May. Savic reached a career-high No.369 in the world in 2009 but has never played above the Challenger circuit. Savic, though, claims he was set up by an unnamed top player, and that the allegations against him are an “absolute lie”.

Azarenka Out of Beijing:

Victoria Azarenka has pulled out of the China Open with a right foot injury, giving Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova a walkover win.

GB Win Junior Davis Cup:

Great Britain have won the Junior Davis Cup for the first time after defeating Italy in the final, in Mexico’s San Luis Potosi. With former world No.4 Greg Rusedski coaching them, Evan Hoyt, Kyle Edmund and Luke Bambridge justified their top seeding by bringing home the spoils. Hoyt and Edmund won the two singles rubbers, meaning the doubles was not needed to be played. “I’m very proud of our team,” said Rusedski. “It feels great to be the first British team ever to win the Junior Davis Cup.”

Stars Pay Tribute to Japan while Competing in Tokyo:

Some of the world’s biggest names have been paying tribute and pledging their support to the Japanese people following the year the country has endured. Still recovering from natural and nuclear disasters it is a small miracle that these events are taking place at all. “It has been a really hard year for all the Japanese people,” said world No.2 Rafael Nadal. “For people like me, who was here in the past, can make some sense about what happened. The reason why I am here is that I believe Japan is a fantastic country and a safe country. The people are very, very nice and I always send all my support to the people and the country.” Rising star Milos Raonic revealed that he had been following proceedings with a vested interest. “My dad is a nuclear engineer and kept following what has been going on. He kept me up-to-date with the news. I know it has been a really tough time, but I am happy people are getting back to their homes. There is still a lot of work to be done. But I wish all the best to the Japanese people and to the country. It is a very respectful and well mannered country. They treat us so well.” World No. 4 Andy Murray added: “I hadn’t played here for five or six years, but the people look after us really well here. They put on a nice tournament for the players, there are many practice courts and the hotel is very close and convenient. I think that is why they get strong fields and hopefully I will be back a few more times.”

Race for Finals On in Rankings Watch:

With few opportunities remaining to garner rankings points for the upcoming ATP and WTA finals in London and Istanbul, America’s Mardy Fish currently sits in eighth on the South African Airways ATP World Rankings, but Gael Monfils and Tomas Berdych are not far behind him. With Monfils missing both Beijing and Shanghai through injury qualification doesn’t look overly optimistic for him. Nicolas Almagro and Gilles Simon, in 11th and 12th respectively, will not be happy with early exits in Beijing this week as they try to make up ground on those above them. Donald Young enters the Top 50 for the first time this week after reaching the final at Bangkok, while Japan’s Kei Nishikori is in to the Top 50 at No.47, one below his career-best No.46 in May. Germany’s Matthias Bachinger climbs ten to No.88, while Federico Gil, Joao Souza and Tobias Kamke are in to the Top 100. Vera Zvonareva climbs back up to No.3 in the world in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings this week while Petra Kvitova is in to the Top 5 for the first time. Kim Clijsters climbs back in to the Top 8 with Istanbul around the corner, which Francesca Schiavone the unlucky star who falls out of the qualification berths. Ana Ivanovic is back in to the Top 20 at No.18. Iveta Benesova and Christina McHale are in to the Top 50 and Stephanie Dubois and Romina Oprandi are in to the Top 100.

Nadal Back in Action for GOAT Race Points:

With Roger Federer again sidelined by injury Rafael Nadal has earned himself a little more room in the GOAT race as he trundles towards a long-ago evident victory. By entering Tokyo Nadal earns an extra ten points, which makes the scores:

Roger: 1100 Rafa: 1920