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October 12, 2010
PATRICK YANG: Good afternoon. This is the fourth day of the Rolex Masters. We know this year we have a very strong team taking part in this tournament. The top 20 are all participating in this year's tournament. Even compared with the Grand Slams and the previous ATP Masters, we have an unprecedented presence of players. We hope it can help us win another annual best award for 2010.
Today we are very pleased to have Mr. Brad Drewett, CEO of ATP International, and also Mr. Jiang Lan of Shanghai Juss Event, and two of our tournament directors, Mr. Leon Sun and Mr. Michael Luevano.
First a brief introduction from Mr. Lan.
LAN JIANG: I think today you may be more interested to hear from Mr. Brad Drewett on the tournament. Maybe we can get more information from him on the basic facts about this tournament. I believe you have been here for several days. You must have learned a lot about the tournament. If there are any questions or any other information you want to know, please feel free to ask.
PATRICK YANG: Thank you, Mr. Lan.
Let's invite Mr. Brad Drewett to talk about the ATP 1000 Masters Shanghai and also previous tournaments in the ATP 1000.
BRAD DREWETT: Thank you, Patrick. Thank you Mr. Jiang.
First I'd like to say how wonderful it is to be back here in Shanghai. Personally in many ways, Shanghai is like a second home to me. We have been coming to Shanghai over the last 10 years. It's great to be back.
Obviously I'm very proud of this event, having been involved with the team up here for such a long time, in particular since 2002 when we held the first Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai. It's hard to believe now that less than 10 years later we're sitting here with an ATP Masters 1000 in this magnificent facility and a great platform for the future.
You all know that we had four very successful Tennis Master Cups from 2005 to 2008 here in this facility. I have to say some of those events were some of the best events ever seen on the ATP. In many ways, it's hard to think how they could be improved.
I have to give tremendous credit to Mr. Jiang from Juss Event and the tournament directors Michael, Charles and Leon for what they've done in the last two years, firstly by winning the Tournament of the Year in their inaugural year as a Masters 1000 is unprecedented. I think clearly this year when you arrive, you know they have not rested on their laurels and have stepped up even further. They have improved the hospitality areas to what I think is a level that any tournament in the world would be proud of to go with what is already one of the great stadiums on the world tennis tour.
We know that the players themselves have always enjoyed coming here to Shanghai. Back when the Tennis Masters Cup was played, only eight players, singles players, got to experience the wonderful facilities and hospitality of Shanghai. The good news now is that we have 56 singles players and many doubles players who are seeing this, if not for the first time, the second time. To a man, every one of them are saying, Wow, this is really something very, very special.
I just want to once again give credit to all the hard work that's been done. It's been a long journey. This didn't happen quickly. It's taken at least 10 years. There's been a lot of hard work behind the scenes, a lot of great tennis played in this stadium.
But now I think clearly this facility and this event has well and truly arrived as one of the great tennis events on the ATP World Tour.
Obviously to have a great event you need to have great support from the media. That's something that we've always received here in Shanghai. So thank you to those of you in the room and others who have always supported the efforts of the ATP World Tour in Shanghai in this event. Without the broadcasters, the tremendous support we receive from SGS and CCTV, none of this could have happened.
Of course, the sponsors. There's always been great local support from local sponsors here in Shanghai, as well as international companies. I want to make special mention to Rolex, who are truly one of the great world brands and are great supporters of tennis. But also Rolex is a really sophisticated sponsorship company and only are involved with what they believe is the best of the best.
They've been involved with this event for some years now. As you all know, earlier this year they announced they were stepping up to be the title sponsor, and hence the name the Shanghai Rolex Masters. So that's another stamp of approval, if you like, of how far this tournament has come over the last 10 years.
I just want to make mention on a broader sense from the ATP's perspective. This event is the anchor, the flagship event of the Asian Swing. The Asian Swing was created two years ago. It's a three-week swing with all the tournaments are solely played here in Asia.
For those of you who follow tennis closely, and I know in this room you all do, you will know the success of the tournaments preceding this in Asia. Firstly in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, where we had seven of the top 10 players participating between the two events, then last week in Tokyo and in Beijing where we had nine of the top 10 players shared between those two tournaments. All four events were very successful. In Tokyo last week, there was packed houses. Also in Beijing, the event was very successful with Novak winning there, and Rafa winning in Tokyo.
I think the concept of the Asian Swing is clearly working. Obviously Shanghai, as I said, is the anchor of that. More a testament to the Asian Swing, not only the fact there's nearly $8 million in prize money in the three weeks, but also this week in Shanghai we have the top 20 players in the world playing. So in three consecutive weeks, we've had seven out of 10, nine out of 10, and now this week 20 out of 20. It really is a great sign for the future of tennis, not only here in Shanghai, but also in Asia.
As you know, the ATP, has earmarked China as a very important market, as most companies in the world did many years ago, with the potential here, with the economic growth. We're very proud specifically to have two now wonderful events in the two biggest markets in China, firstly the 500 in Beijing and secondly the 1000 here in Shanghai. So there's the Asia story, the success of the Asian Swing, then more specifically the success of these two events in China.
One thing I often get asked in China, have for many years, is, When will we see the first truly great male professional player from China? Obviously, we know you've had great success on the women's side with Li Na. It's really incredible what she's done, now being ranked in the top 10 in the world. Everyone in China is very proud of that. I think it's fantastic.
My answer has always been, It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. The CTA and Ms. Sun's leadership is working together very hard with the people at these events to develop the next generation of young male players.
You have great athletes in China, you always have had in other sports, but with the development program now in place for juniors, I have no doubt that we will hopefully soon see some great male players.
That's really the next step. We have this wonderful platform here, very successful events, with the Rolex Shanghai Masters in particular. The next step really is to have Chinese male players participating here, not only in the first round, but later in the week.
I went outside an hour or so ago and watched the end of the match with Yan Bai who won the first round against Stepanek. I'm sure Stepanek is disappointed as all professional players are to lose in the first round. But the crowd there, as you would imagine, was very enthusiastic. If you can fast forward that into a young player playing in the quarterfinals or semifinals to a packed house here at the Shanghai Rolex Masters, that's something we all wish for. It's a great signal that young man has won the first round against a world-class player.
As I said, the top 20 players in the world are here. The race is on for the Barclay World Finals in London. All of you are very familiar with that event, as I know. With Rafa having secured the No. 1 and playing unbelievable tennis, dominating the last nine months on the tour, Novak in great form, just having qualified for the Barclays World Tour Final. Andy Murray also ranked 4, another great year. Have a great backup year from last year. Tsonga and Monfils are always great entertainers and establishing themselves as top 10 players. Tomas Berdych here having a great year, being a Wimbledon finalist. Of course, Andy Roddick, who is one of the great stars of the last 10 years.
One player I want to single out, only because I can single him out for lots of different reasons, particularly because we're here in Shanghai, Roger Federer. He's a guy who played all five of the Tennis Masters Cups, the first one in 2002 through 2005 and 2008.
I was asked last week by one of your publications in Beijing, who do I regard as the heroes of Chinese tennis over the last 10 or 15 years. I didn't hesitate to name Roger Federer as one of them. I think he really has embraced China from a very early part of his career way back in 2002, and obviously since then. You might remember when he actually flew out of his schedule to come here to actually open this great facility. So I think we should make a special mention of Roger's contribution to what has happened here in Shanghai.
Thank you very much. As I said, we all appreciate your great support. Congratulations, once again, to all the organizers. Special thanks to the Shanghai Municipal Government for their support, Shanghai Administration of Sport, Juss Events, Mr. Jiang, and co-tournament directors Leon and Michael, and also Charles as the managing director.
We're very, very proud of this event and the people who have worked so hard to make it, as I said, one of the great events on the ATP World Tour. Thank you.
PATRICK YANG: Thank you, Brad.
The floor is open for questions. If you have any questions regarding the tournament, please feel free to ask your questions.
Q. Brad, I think only one missing part in the big plan of the ATP in China is we don't have any tour player. After watching today's game, do you have the sense something big will happen in the next couple of years? Can you help us to imagine if we have a few tour players, how much bigger the success the ATP will experience in China?
BRAD DREWETT: Having been a player myself a long time ago, ancient history now, but one thing I know about junior development, it's very hard to predict, it's very hard to put a timeline on it.
I do know that the programs here in place in China now have developed significantly over the last five years and that there are many, many very good young junior players.
Just the other day, Roger Federer held a clinic here in Shanghai where a number of the best 11- and 12-year-olds were playing. The feedback I got was there were a number of very exciting young prospects in that group.
So as for a timeline, I really wouldn't want to give one. There's too many variables that go into making a top 100, let alone top 50, let alone top 10 players. But I know the hard work is being done by the CTA and tournaments like the Shanghai Rolex Masters in supporting the CTA.
I would hope in five to six to seven years we will have some very significant players who are not just playing, but competing, and competing well, on the ATP World Tour.
If that was to happen, I think the potential is unimaginable. Obviously, if you had a player that was able to break into the top 50 let alone the top 20, it would capture the imagination of China in general, just like Yao Ming has in basketball.
Once again, I've tried not to predict numbers here in China, but I know if that was to happen, or when it happens, the growth will be exponential.
Q. You gentlemen probably have as much experience as anybody of the perils of being at the end of a long tennis season where we've seen many examples of players coming up here exhausted, having players pulling out, having to pull players in. You have 20 players, which is quite extraordinary at this stage of the season. The big debate is the calendar and what can be done to improve the situation. Rafael Nadal gave a great press conference about what he'd like to see happen. He said there has to be give-and-take on both sides, players and tournaments. What do you think is the crucial element to perhaps giving us in the next couple of years a calendar that really suits all sides?
BRAD DREWETT: Well, every few years the ATP goes through developing its calendars for the future. Currently we're looking at what our calendars might like for 2011, '12, and '13. We did a calendar a few years ago for '8, '9 and '10. Our board is looking to make a decision on what those calendars might look like by the end of the year.
You would have all seen in the media there's been a considerable debate about the length of the season and that the players, I think just watching them out there on the court, you can see how physical this game has become over the last five or 10 years, the athleticism is simply incredible. There is a very strong argument that they need more rest. In this calendar conversation, that would mean a longer off-season. I think a longer off-season is to the benefit of everyone in the sport. If the players are healthier, it's better for everyone.
Then there's the detail. We recently put out a number of draft calendars, lots of different options to lengthen the off-season by two weeks, and some to lengthen the off-season by three weeks.
Rafa is correct, there has to be give-and-take on both sides. I don't know what the outcome will be. That's for the board to decide.
The ATP as a body, which includes both the tournaments and the players, as always, take on these issues. There is some very strong debate internally. But one thing I know about the ATP, more often than not we're able to come out with what is seen as a reasonable result for all the members, and that includes the players and the tournaments. So that's what I hope will happen.
Q. There's been ongoing debate about the timing of the Australian Open. With the Asian Swing, would it be preferable to have the Australian Open tied in with an Asian Swing?
BRAD DREWETT: My understanding with the Australian Open is they're very happy with the time slot they have now. They have certain constraints around what they can and can't do. For example, the AFL football, the pre-season, starts in the middle of February. I'm from Sydney, so I don't know exactly.
Q. End of March.
BRAD DREWETT: End of March, sorry (laughter).
The Australian Open, much like the US Open, has been held around Labor Day, the Australian Open has been held around Australia Day. Channel 7, who is their national broadcaster, likes the event. It suits them to have the event in that time frame. It's been an unbelievable success. So in many ways, it would be very difficult for the Australian Open to contemplate moving to a different part of the year. I don't think that's going to happen anytime. You'd have to ask the Australian Open, I can't speak for them. But I know they're very comfortable with where they are and I can't see that changing.
In terms of being connected to an Asian Swing, the calendar is a bit like that game you play, knock one thing down, something else pops up. There's a domino effect throughout the calendar. Just when you think you solved one issue within the calendar, another one is created.
Assuming the Australian Open stays where it is, which I think is the assumption, tournaments like this can't be played in January because of weather. Beijing obviously is extremely cold in January. Shanghai is, as well. So all those issues have to be taken into account.
I don't see a connection between this Asian Swing and the Australian Open anywhere in the near future. We already have I think a great series of events that lead into the Australian Open. We've got Doha, which is a great event for the European players to pick up an event on the way down to Australia. Obviously there's Sydney, Auckland, and a former tournament director of Auckland Graham Pearce is here, and welcome. And also Chennai. That's been working for the players over the last however many years it's been like that. So I don't think it's going to change.
Q. To serve the audience well has always been the purpose of the organizers as well as the media. This year if we want to win again the title of the best annual ATP tournament, I want to ask if the organizers have any new strategies or tools to achieve this goal.
LEON SUN: First we are really glad to win the best award. To serve the audience has always been our purpose, yes. This year the management and the facilities of the tournament have been through major changes and improvements because this award certainly is an encouragement for us and also an impetus for us, a motivation for us to work better.
On the outer court, you can see two permanent structures which have improved the outlook and also the internal facilities. The shopping mall, the outlets, and also the cafeteria help us to provide better service to our audience, spectators, so it's more like a complex, not just a sports facility. This will give a great experience for our fans.
Our management, we have an EIPC system, which has been newly developed, is for on-spot management. The EIPC headsets help us to interact with each other on sport, allow us to give real-time instructions to facilitate our management and also the handling of some emergencies.
I think that we are the most advanced, if not the first, with the advanced system.
LAN JIANG: I would like to add something.
We were really proud of winning the award last year. It was totally a surprise for us. We have never thought of winning this award the first year of hosting the tournament. The spectators, the sponsors, and the players are the most important people to us. Our responsibility is to serve them and to improve our work along the way.
Of course, there are problems and challenges because of our lack of experience. For example, last year there was no rain during the whole tournament. But yesterday we had a sudden rain. We have arranged everything in terms of the weather forecast. We have a weather forecasting team working together with our colleagues, so we are watching the weather very closely.
But yesterday the rain came all of a sudden. This gave us a big challenge. I think this is all because of the lack of experience. Some of our services, some of our staff members do not know how to cope with this situation when they're faced with questions like, Will the match go on? The staff members do not know how to answer these questions. They do not know if there will be a delay or there will be a suspension. So this is all due to the lack of experience.
But from our point of view we improve our work not merely because of the winning of an award but because we want to serve our audience.
On the EIPC system, as the general manager of the company, I can rely on this facility, this device, to know everything about my team by staying at home, everything from the scores of players, weather conditions, everything I want to know. And my instruction can be delivered to all of my staff members within a second through this device.
This ensures high efficiency and high-quality management for us. It's a huge input and is a product developed by our own teams. We've become creative with information through this device and we also have this really good solution that helps us address many problems.
Of course, this is only a small example. It shows our convictions to have a really good tournament.
Q. Mr. Jiang, just now you mentioned the weather. We know there may be more rain to come in the next few days. As organizers, do you have any contingency plans for the rain?
LAN JIANG: All ATP Masters, Grand Slams, and other tournaments, have a comprehensive plan for management. We are not specific. What we need to do is to adapt to the situation because we haven't encountered such a situation before. For example, yesterday, because it was so sudden, we didn't know how to respond to the audience, to the questions, to the doubts.
But I believe if that happens again today or in the next few days, we will have the experience and we will know how to respond. So it was an instant, a chaotic moment for us, but it lasted only for a very short period.
I remember that once in Houston we had the Masters tournament which started at midnight because of rain. It was delayed by the rain. So such things are common to tennis games. I believe the audience and the players are used to that, so it wouldn't be a problem for us.
PATRICK YANG: If there are no more questions, this is the end of the conference. Thank you.
End of FastScripts