The ATP, organizer of the top men’s tennis tour, has announced it will return to China for the first time in four years with the Zhuhai Championships in September.
The ATP Tour 250 event, which serves the Greater Bay Area of China comprising 11 major cities and a population of more than 71 million, will run from September 20 to 26 and has already secured world number three Daniil Medvedev as its headline player.
The city of Zhuhai replaced Shenzen as the host of the second-tier event in 2019 but only staged the tournament once before the country’s strict pandemic restrictions prevented the ATP from returning to China.
Last July, the ATP canceled four events scheduled to take place in China for the 2022 season due to the pandemic. The ATP then created six one-off tournaments to fill gaps in the calendar.
Alison Lee, ATP executive vice president for the international region, said: “It’s certainly exciting to be returning to China. I was fortunate to visit the Zhuhai event in 2019 and experience the city and its surrounding areas.
“This year, we will see some amazing tennis featuring some of the world’s best players including Daniil Medvedev at the Hengqin Tennis Center.”
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The ATP said the return of the event this year will “set a new bar of merit given the quality of tennis stars interested in competing” in the tournament. Aside from Medvedev, tournament officials are in discussions “with grand slam champions and other top-ranked players” about competing in the event.
The tour said as a bonus for fans attending the tournament, the scheduling of matches will be more consumer-friendly, allowing greater opportunities to watch matches.
The new time slots will allow fans attending weekend sessions to see more single players in action than in the previous 2019 edition when the tournament was played from Monday to Sunday.
As part of the initiative, the semi-finals and final matches have been scheduled for Monday and Tuesday night, respectively, to allow fans to attend after finishing work.
Leon Sun, tournament director of the Zhuhai Championships, said: “It’s great the Zhuhai Championships are back on the ATP Tour calendar this year.
“We’ll certainly bring world-class tennis back again to Zhuhai and the Greater Bay Area and make sure all players and fans have the best possible experience here.”
The news comes two weeks after the WTA, the organizer of the top-tier women’s tennis tour, announced it will also resume tournaments in China from September.
The organization suspended its tournament activities in the country at the end of 2021 in response to concerns about the well-being of Chinese player Peng Shuai after she accused former Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual coercion and then disappeared from the public eye.
At the time, the WTA’s chairman and chief executive Steve Simon said China had censored the accusation and discussion of it and failed to prove that Peng had not been under duress since she made the allegation.
In January, the tour said its return to China would require resolving the Peng situation.
However, despite not achieving its goal after 16 months, the tour said it would lift the country’s suspension for the good of the players.
The International Tennis Federation also announced that it would resume tournament activity in China later this year for the first time since 2019.
Image: Al Bello/Getty Images