It was in 1990 when the International Tennis Federation came up with its own year-end championship. Its direct nemesis was ATP’s Tour World Championships that was the official year-end championship. The Grand Slam Cup lasted for only 10 years but was a stellar tournament of its time. Let us dig deep into the various attributes of this tournament.
ORIGIN & RULES
Olympiahalle, a part of the Olympiapark located in Munich, Germany was the first to contest the Grand Slam Cup. The ITF laid out the rules of which the most important rule was that the sixteen players who amassed most points in Grand Slam tournaments could qualify for the event. Grand slam champions were NOT assured of a spot in the top 16. It was only in 1998 & 1999 when the number of qualifying players was dropped down to 12.
Round one and Round two matches were played as a best of three sets whereas the semifinals and final were played for five sets. A no-tiebreak set was played in case of a fifth set.
Played on indoor carpet courts, this tournament provided with the maximum prize money in its time. The players weren’t rewarded with ranking points but the winner bagged a whopping $2 million. Moreover, if the winner had won a grand slam event earlier in that season, an additional bonus of $1 million was awarded.
Pete Sampras won the first ever edition and he won it again in 1997. Except for Pete, no one had ever won the event twice. Michael Chang reached the finals twice but lost in the finals on both occasions. The last edition that was contested in 1999 was won by Greg Rusedski.
The woman’s edition of the Grand Slam Cup was held only in 1998 and 1999. The Williams sisters dominated it with Venus in 1998 and Serena in 1999. It was also the first time when Serena defeated Venus. The women got a prize money of $80,000.
In 1999, the Grand Slam Cup entered its 10th and final edition. A year later, the ATP merged with the ITF and gave rise to what we call it today as the ATP World Tour Championships.
Today, one of the most important rules of the Grand Slam Cup has been incorporated in the ATP World Tour Championship is that the best 8 players of the season can qualify for the year-end championships.