Lost and looking for Qizhong Stadium? Find out how to get there.
Last year, I found myself seated next to a United States Tennis Association coach that was in Shanghai supplementing the coaching staff of a big name in American tennis (who was being slowly dismantled by a Russian on the court below). We got to chatting, and I asked him about his impressions of Shanghai, and the tournament in general. He responded by saying that the courts and facilities at Qizhong Stadium were the nicest on the tour (with a few "obvious exceptions, like Wimbledon"). Score one for Shanghai!
The Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena, known interchangeably in English as Qizhong Stadium or Qizhong Arena, is a mere eight years young. The most notable feature of the complex is (surprise!) Center Court, which is an enormous and surprisingly graceful structure for such a behemoth. At night, the exterior of the centerpiece is lit up and its faint glow can be seen for some distance as you approach the event. Atop the lights sit eight gigantic conglomerations of metal that each resemble a single magnolia petal. These magnolia petals make up the retractable roof, which can open and close in a lightning-fast eight minutes.
In addition to the Center Court, which seats 15,000 spectators, there's the Grandstand Court (5,000 seats) and another bleacher-style Showcase Court that is significantly smaller than the big two. There are also around 20 practice courts where you can see the stars up close and personal, but beware: when the likes of Nadal or Murray take to the practice courts, those in the front of the crowd will likely become intimately acquainted with the fence in front of them from the pressure of less lucky and overly eager spectators trying to get a glimpse.
In addition to the courts, there's a stage for live music (last year I saw a Chinese girl of about 10 years old singing AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" to a crowd of around 1,000), a pro shop that sells all kinds of tennis wares, a variety of sponsor shops and Heineken stands selling beer and hot dogs about every 30 feet.
Tickets for the Shanghai Rolex Masters event are divided into four categories: A+, A, B and C. There are no assigned seats; the arena is divided into sections, with A+ being closest to the court. All tickets to the Center Court are good for any section of all the other courts.