ATP hails 'new era' for Chinese tennis at Shanghai Masters launch
ATP executives hailed a "new era" for Chinese tennis as they relaunched the lucrative Shanghai Rolex Masters on Monday after three consecutive years of COVID-19 cancellations.
The flagship event of the men's game in the Asia-Pacific region was among many international sporting fixtures stopped by Beijing's strict anti-virus measures over the past few years.
International sports bodies have sought to bring back such events since those restrictions were lifted in December.
"We are very confident this is the moment we will start a new journey... for tennis in China," ATP CEO Massimo Calvelli said at a launch ceremony.
Elite women's tennis is also returning to China.
Calvelli pointed to the success of Chinese players as another reason it was a "special time to come back".
Wu Yibing beat American John Isner at the Dallas Open in February to become the first Chinese player to lift an ATP Tour trophy.
Zhang Zhizhen then became the first Chinese player to reach the quarterfinals of an ATP Masters 1000 event when he beat Taylor Fritz of the United States in the Madrid Open last week.
October's Shanghai Rolex Masters, to be held at the Qizhong Tennis Center in Minhang District, will double its duration and the prize-money pool will exceed US$10 million, making it the richest sports event in Asia, the ATP said on Monday.
The event is the last of four ATP Tour events in China scheduled this year.
Former world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev of Russia will headline the Zhuhai Championships in Guangdong Province on September 20-26, which will run concurrently with another tournament in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.
The China Open will then begin in Beijing in late September, leading into the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
Several other major international sports events will be held in China in 2023.
Badminton's Sudirman Cup begins on Sunday, and the Asian Games kick off in Hangzhou in September.
Major snooker and golf tournaments are also planned.