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Stan Smith poses for photographs with Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic ahead of the 2014 US Open final.

ATP Launches 'Finals Club' In Honour Of Season Finale's Past Champions

Groups are named in honour of past singles and doubles champions

The ATP launched a new initiative on Tuesday, aimed at celebrating the former champions of the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, as well as recognising all singles players and doubles teams to have qualified for the Tour’s season-ending tournament since the inaugural event in Tokyo in 1970.

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The Finals Club initiative will see many of the game’s former greats from the past 45 years return to the season-ending tournament, where they will be able to reconnect with the sport, their peers, as well as the world’s best players of today.
 
While players from subsequent decades will be celebrated in future years, the launch of the Finals Club this year will be highlighted by the renaming of Groups A and B for both the singles and doubles in honour of players that made an indelible mark on the tournament in the 1970s.
 
In singles:
-        Group A will be renamed in honour of Stan Smith, winner of the inaugural tournament in Tokyo in 1970.
-        Group B will be renamed in honour of Ilie Nastase, a four-time winner of the event from 1971-1973 and '75.
 
In doubles:
-        Group A will be renamed Ashe/Smith, in honour of Arthur Ashe & Stan Smith, winners of the inaugural tournament in Tokyo in 1970.
-        Group B will be renamed Fleming/McEnroe, in honour of Peter Fleming & John McEnroe, seven-time consecutive winners of the tournament.

“This tournament has such a rich and unique history, and the Finals Club will provide us with a great way to celebrate that moving forward,” said Chris Kermode, ATP Executive Chairman & President. “Qualifying for this tournament is an incredible achievement in itself. The Finals Club will keep our former players involved with our season-ending event, and we look forward to welcoming players from the 1970s at The O2 this year, as well as players from subsequent decades in years to come.”

For Smith, the chance to witness the world’s best at The O2 is something to relish. “I look forward to returning to the season finale and to joining many of my fellow competitors from the 1970s in the gallery,” said Smith. “As we marvel at the performances of the likes of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, I will also reflect on the incredible growth of men’s professional tennis and reminisce with rivals turned friends. I’ll forever remember winning the very first singles and doubles event in Tokyo in 1970, and I’m truly honoured that the ATP has chosen to celebrate its history by renaming the groups in this way for 2015.”

The singles and doubles draw ceremony for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals will take place on Thursday evening at City Hall in London.