It is that time of the year again when the ATP tour shifts it focus back to Paris. But this time around, the playing conditions will change from clay to hard turfs and slow to faster courts and the level of the tournament will drop down a tier from Grand Slam to Masters 1000. Paris Masters enters its 46th edition. It is an important tournament as it is the last chance the players will have to have a go at the ATP World Tour Finals. Played at the AccorHotels Arena, how did this event go on to become the largest Indoor tournament in the world?
1968 – 1982
The initial years of the Paris Open were played at the Palais Omni Sports of Paris-Bercy, now known as the AccorHotels Arena. In these years it was Tom Okker and Brian Gottfried who won the title twice. The Paris Open had frequent alterations in its turf.
1971: Not held
1983-85: Not held
In 1985, the officials realized the potential of the Paris Masters that was destined to be a tournament of utmost importance on the circuit. Thereby, on a grander stage the Paris Open was held the following year, attracting a record crowd of 82,117 in seven days. Boris Becker won that title and would go on to win 3 titles of the 5 finals that he reached.
1989 and continuing success
The indoor event in Paris would go on to be a part of the Grand Prix Super Series.
The tournament’s current director, Guy Forget, was the first Frenchman to win the event in 1991 where he beat Pete Sampras in 5 grueling sets.
When the ATP underwent its rebranding in 2009, from a Super 9 event it became a part of the Masters 1000 event. It also became the only Masters event to be played indoors.
In 2011, the courts of the Paris event were slowed down. Ilie Nastase, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are the only players to have won both the major events in Paris – Paris Masters and Roland Garros. Out of these four players only Novak Djokovic has defended his title from 2013-15.
This year the tournament will offer a prize money of €4,273,775 to the champion which is 14% more than the previous year. Moreover, starting this year, Rolex will be the title sponsor for the event for the next ten years replacing BNP Paribas.
Another major change that we will see is the change in the color of the court. The blue courts will be a “Rolex green color” and the outer portion will be gray.
With Rafa Nadal overcoming his knee injury and confirming his participation at Bercy, the Rolex Paris Masters promises to be a highly intense event for the year end No.1 between the Spaniard and Roger Federer.