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Inside The O2


2009 London Finals Qualifiers© Getty ImagesBarclays ATP World Tour Finals competitors posed outside the County Hall Marriot Hotel in London, ahead of the elite eight-man, eight-team event at The O2.

DEUCE talks to Phil Anderton, Chairman of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, about the planning of the elite event.

The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals will welcome more than 255,000 fans to The O2 in south-east London next week for the world's biggest-ever indoor tennis tournament, but the planning and development of the prestigious season climax has been a two-year project.

The ATP sought inspiration from major sporting events in the United Kingdom and the United States, including Wimbledon, the NBA, entertainment events, and pop and rock concerts to stage the event on European soil for the first time in 10 years.

"The ATP wanted to put the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in a market with a broader media appeal for key TV markets that could take the event to the public," says Phil Anderton, Chairman of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.  "The event links in nicely with the European indoor swing.

"The ATP worked closely with AEG, who own The O2 arena, to create an environment that would deliver a fitting climax to the ATP World Tour season."

Murray, Bryans, London EyeLed by Chris Kermode, Managing Director of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, who worked alongside Phil Beard and Alex Hill of AEG, Bruce Phillips of the Lawn Tennis Association, and Ian Ritchie, the Chief Executive Officer of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, the committee decided on the overall direction of the event and reached agreement on ticket pricing, hospitality and merchandising.

"Ticket sales have been a key factor," admits Anderton.  "It is very easy to just expect fans will turn up because of the players who have qualified, but tickets won't sell themselves."

Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash took part in the one-year countdown at The O2 in November 2008 and more than 100,000 tickets were sold during the pre-sale.  Within 48 hours of the ATP sending to its main database, fans snapped up another 50,000 tickets.

The drive for ticket sales was further fuelled by Andy Murray in April this year, when the World No. 4 and British favourite scaled The O2 roof where tournament organisers had placed a special bulls-eye target, ahead of the general sale.  The ATP, with the help of its sponsors, its partners Ticketmaster and viagogo, has ensured a sell-out year-end tournament.

"We have obviously sold tickets by traditional means, but database marketing was essential," says Anderton.  "The support of the sponsors including Barclays, a global brand of quality, has also added extra impetus in the event's promotion."

"The ATP has built on lessons learned for the staging of this year's Barclays ATP World Tour Finals."

After four successful years in Shanghai, at the Qi Zhong Stadium, the elite season-ending tournament had boosted the sport's growth in Asia.  "As a result, it was a perfect stage for a new ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament and the conclusion of the three-week Asian swing," says Anderton. 

"The ATP has built on lessons learned for the staging of this year's Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which will feature world-class and epic competition.  It is very easy to create a performance, with the players we have, but we have worked hard to take the overall experience to a new level."

London has been named as the host city of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals through 2012 and Anderton insists the ATP won't rest on its laurels in promoting the event.

"We might have sold 250,000 tickets this year, but the ATP realises it cannot be complacent after what is hoped will be an outstanding staging in London," he confirms.  "We will promote the 2010 tournament onsite and immediately following the tournament."   

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