Upgrade likely for Shanghai Rolex Masters

The Shanghai Rolex Masters might be upgraded in 2019, with more singles entries, longer match schedule and higher prize money.

The Shanghai Rolex Masters could be in for an upgrade in 2019, with more singles entries, longer match schedule and higher prize money.

The ATP is planning adjustments to its World Tour tournaments starting from 2019 and the Shanghai Rolex Masters, Asia’s only ATP 1000 event, is currently “the closest it has ever been” to be upgraded to a higher-level 11-day format.

“We have been jointly working together with the ATP World Tour for the last three and half years on this concept (of upgrading the tournament), and are the closest we have ever been to being successful,” Michael Luevano, Shanghai Rolex Masters tournament director, told Shanghai Daily.

According to Luevano, the decision could be made during the ATP World Finals in London in mid-November. Also being considered for an upgrade to an 11-day format are the Rome and Madrid tournaments.

Shanghai has been hosting the event since 2009. It had been elected by players as the best ATP 1000 event for five straight years.

If the upgrade is confirmed, the total prize money will be raised from the current US$8.09 million to about US$10.3 million. Also, there will be 96 players in the singles main draw instead of the current 64.

The 11-day new tournament will still be called the Shanghai Rolex Masters, with the winner pocketing 1,000 ATP ranking points. Given the extended schedule, the final would probably fall on a Wednesday instead of the current weekend.

Asked whether the change might affect ticket sales, Luevano gave an upbeat assessment.

“Like any new tournament schedule or format, there will be a transition. We felt that during our experience with the Masters Cup in 2002, 2005-2008. Filling up the stadium during the weekdays (this year) is a good sign that Shanghai tennis fans will support the new final-round idea.”

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