In 1993, the ATP decided to add a range of tennis tournaments in Asia. Along with the Qatar Open and the Dubai Tennis Championships, Beijing Salem Open was introduced. Ever since, this tournament has been one of the primary tournaments in China in the ATP and WTA circuit. Changing from indoor carpet courts to outdoor hard courts, being the firs tournament in Asia to use the Hawk-eye technology, this tournament has a history worth knowing.
The ATP 250 series was formerly known as the World Series and the Beijing Salem Open was a part of this series. It was called by this name in 1993, 1994 and 1996. In 1995 and 1997, Nokia became the title sponsor and thus the tournament was known as the Nokia Open.
DROPPING OUT & MAKING A COMEBACK
In 1998, the tournament was removed from the ATP circuit. After a hiatus of 6 years, it was introduced o the ATP circuit again in 2004. In the same year, the women’s event was played along with the men’s event. Prior to this, the women played this event at Shanghai. When it arrived at Beijing, neither the ATP nor the WTA saw any more downfalls of the event. When it made a comeback in 2004, it was made a part of the International Series (now known as the ATP 250 series) till 2008. The tournament was further promoted to reach the status of an ATP 500 event in 2009.
The women’s event began in 1994. Till 1996 it was a part of the Tier IV tournaments which is the current equivalent of WTA International series. From 1997 to 1999 the tournament was not contested and when it returned in 2000, it enjoyed three successful years. As a result, it was upgraded to Tier II, the current equivalent of the WTA Premier Series. In 2009, when the ATP decided to include the event in the ATP 500 series, the WTA also upgraded the event to make it a part of the WTA Premier Mandatory tournaments. There are only four WTA Premier Mandatory tournaments and the China Open is one of them.
The men’s singles winner gets a prize money of $29,16,550 whereas the women’s singles winner gets $62,89,521.
The men’s trophy is known as the Ca Mau Permanent Cup. The base of the cup signifies a standing rock and the engraving on the cup indicates rolling waves. Together, it is known as the Sea Water Cliff, which means “Unified Country” in China.
The women’s trophy is known as the Sub-dragon tripod. Above the base of the cup is a tripod on which the body of the trophy is seated. Engraved on it is a tripod network. The handles, shaped like dragons, converge inside the tripod network signifying that athletes strive hard to win the elite trophy.
The double’s trophy is also known as the Double Jazz. The trophy represents the hospitality provided by the Chinese people. The trophy sees a “V” shaped notch which signifies victory. Around the V, the decorations indicate the seamless collaboration between the athletes.
Novak Djokovic has been the most successful player of the men’s singles event, winning a record 6 titles. In the women’s category, Agnieszka Radwanska, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Serena Williams have won the title twice. In the doubles, the Bryan brothers are the only players to win the title two consecutive times of the three titles that they have won.
The 19th edition for the men and the 21st edition for the women will begin on 2nd October. The defending champion in the men’s event, Andy Murray has ended his season and hence we await a new champion at Beijing in the men’s category. In the women’s category, Agnieszka Radwanska is the defending women’s champion. A below par performance in 2017 will make it difficult for Radwanska to defend her title.