We have various tennis tournaments played across the globe every year producing different winners each passing year. So how do you determine who was the best in the business? In 1970 the tennis world came up with a solution; a notion of an year-end championship.
It was not the same today as it was four decades ago. The year-end championships saw four different phases in its development. Here is the chronology..
1970s: WCT Circuit vs Grand Prix Circuit
Tussling to get the best players to play for them, the World Championships Tennis and the Grand Prix circuit both contested year-end championships. The Masters Grand Prix was the last tournament if the year where the best athletes of tennis competed but in contrast with the WCT, they didn’t offer any ranking points. Held on an indoor carpet court, the WCT saw Ken Rosewall defeat Rod Laver to win the inaugral event in 1971. The match is often cited as “the match that made tennis in the United States.”
1989: WCT succumbed
Houston and Dallas were the two venues that hosted the WCT Finals from 1971 to 1989. In the process the 1974 edition saw the electronic line umpiring being tested for the very first time in tennis. Popularly known as the Buick WCT Finals due to title sponsorship, the WCT Finals were dominated by John McEnroe. He won the event 5 times out of the 8 finals he reached. In 1989, the WCT circuit was terminated and the following year the ATP World Tour was born.
1990: ATP vs ITF
In the 70s and 80s, the Masters Grand Prix saw a continual success globally. The event was held in 8 different venues till 1989: Tokyo, Paris, Barcelona, Boston, Melbourne, Stockholm, Houston, New York. From 1977-1989 the event was held in New York. When the WCT circuit ended and ATP was born, a new circuit was made and the Masters Grand Prix were replaced by the ATP Tour World Championships. These were held from 1990 to 1998 in Frankfurt and Hanover. This time around players were given ranking points. The International Tennis Federation, who continued to run the Grand Slam events started its own year-end tournament known as the Grand Slam Cup. This tournament would see the 16 players who performed the best in grand slam tournaments of that particular year.
The Grand Slam Cup offerend no ranking points but the winner received $2 million as prize money and if he had won a grand slam that year, he would receive an additional bonus of $1 million!
1999: Tennis Masters Cup
On December 9,1999, the ATP and ITF decided to join hands and form a common year-end championship known as the Tennis Masters Cup. 4 cities hosted the Tennis Masters Cup up until 2008: Lisbon, Sydney, Shanghai, Houston. The event in Houson was held in 2003 and 2004. These years were the first to see the year end championships being played outdoors. The only time such a change took place was back in Melbourne in 1974, when the tournament was contested on a grass turf.
2009: ATP World Tour Finals
In 2009, the tournament was renamed to ATP World Tour Finals. Till date it is held at the O2 Arena in London. The event is held on a hard indoor turf.
By the records, it is Roger Federer who spearheads the tally with 6 titles followed by Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl and Novak Djokovic tied at 5.
2017: Nitto ATP Finals
Nitto Denko Corporation, one of Japan’s leading innovation companies took over the title sponsorship of the event in 2017. Moreover, the ATP announced earlier this year that London will stay as the host of the tournament till 2020.
The 2017 edition will see Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin and Jack Sock battle it out in a round-robin format. The winner will walk away with $8,000,000 prize money and the Brad Drewett trophy designed by one of the leading silversmith companies, Thomas Lyte.