The only ATP Masters 1000 event to be staged in the Asia region, takes on another dimension. The 2023 Rolex Shanghai Masters is now played across two weeks and has on offer over $8.8million in prize money, and Daniil Medvedev returns as the defending champion.
Staged at QiZhong Stadium, the venue has to be the most unique looking centre court anywhere in the world. Set about 45 minutes from the centre of Shanghai, one of the world’s most dynamic cities, the venue sits like a massive object from out of space.
The centre court has seating for 13,500. The roof has eight massive panels that twist to open and close and when open they look like wings that would help lift the arena into space. The roof is known as the magnolia roof as that is the flower of Shanghai and eight is the lucky number for the Chinese people.
“QiZhong was originally built to host the 2005 season-ending tournament, the Tennis Masters Cup which was the forerunner of the ATP Finals that is now played in Turin,” Tournament Director Michael Luevano said.
“We have staged an ATP Masters 1000 since 2009 and we are very proud of the fact that the players voted the Rolex Shanghai Masters the Tournament of the Year five times, and with our major refurbishment of the facility and expansion to two weeks, we expect to maintain that level and standard.
“With our return and the expansion of the tournament we are also welcoming many young players who have never been to Shanghai before and the interest is seeing Carlos Alcaraz, Holger Rune, Casper Ruud and Jannik Sinner, has been tremendous.
“But what is incredibly exciting for the local tennis fans are the Chinese men players who have been creating attention on the tour, Wu Yibing, Zhang Zhizhen and Shang Juncheng.”
The Rolex Shanghai Masters was the first tournament to provide the top seeded players with private locker rooms which had their own bathrooms, lounge, massage table and even had the player’s name woven into the carpet.
The player restaurant backs on to gardens with beautifully manicured trees. There are private dining areas, and the tournament brings in a Michelin starred chef to cater for the players along with a lavish buffet. There is an area for players to relax and another for those looking for video gaming fun.
There is an abundance of courts for practice and there will be eight match courts in play with the Hawk-eye system and the gym for players is the largest of any tennis tournament in Asia.
One of the fascinating attractions that fans like to be photographed with are the terracotta tennis players which are a play on the famed terracotta warriors. These are life sized statues of the players that have won championships at QiZhong and they are positioned around the grounds.
For 25 years Shanghai has hosted tennis tournaments ranging from the 250 level to among the biggest as the Rolex Shanghai Masters is. Shanghai is a city of contrasts. The city's stunning skyline, which includes the second tallest building in the world, sits along the banks of the Huangpo River, while across the busy waterway the traditional and historic part of old Shanghai is reflected in magnificent buildings from the early 1900’s along The Bund.
This is the city that gave tennis its focus of attention in China.