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Beijing To Host China's First Challenger Tournament

Beijing, China

Drewett © Getty ImagesBrad Drewett cites the importance of Challenger tournaments in developing talent.

China hosts two prestigious tournaments on the ATP World Tour calendar, the Shanghai Rolex Masters and the China Open in Beijing, and will launch its first ATP Challenger Tour event this summer with a focus on developing home-grown talent.

The tournament, to be staged in Beijing starting 2 August, is envisioned as the first in a network of Challenger-level events to be held in China.

“ATP is committed to ensuring that China will also eventually play host to a swing of Challenger tournaments – vital to nurture home-grown tennis talent, competing at a professional level,” said Brad Drewett, CEO of the ATP’s International Group, on Wednesday from the Beijing sports centre. “There is nothing more that everyone would like to see than a Chinese tennis champion and we believe Challengers will play a vital role in developing that talent.”

While the WTA Tour features three Chinese women in the Top 100 – Li Na, Zheng Jie and Peng Shuai – the highest ranked men’s player, Ze Zhang, is currently No. 339 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings. The 19-year-old Zheng played the qualifying rounds last year in Beijing and Shanghai, but has yet to make his ATP World Tour main draw debut.

“The only way that young players can earn sufficient points to enable them to participate in ATP Tour level events is through the Challenger circuit,” said Drewett. “The majority of top players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray began their career on the Challenger circuit. These events give spectators an opportunity to see the stars of the future – a player who wins Challengers may go on to win Grand Slams.”

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