In the hierarchy of the tournaments that make up the world ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) tour, the Shanghai Rolex Masters ranks pretty high up there. As one of the nine hosts of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, there are only five tournaments that are more important on the professional circuit (the four Grand Slams and the ATP World Tour Finals). Turns out your mother was right, Shanghai: you are special. The Shanghai Rolex Masters tournament takes place every October, running from one Sunday to the next; in 2013, it's going down on the 5th of October until the 13th of October.
The facility where the tournament is held, Qizhong Stadium, was completed in 2005 and is a remarkable sight to behold, with its giant, magnolia-steepled center court, immaculate, sprawling grounds and the faint scent of something like the tennis equivalent of new car smell (new ball smell?). And while getting there is a bit of a trek, the tournament's importance ensures that the very best of players on the world tennis circuit make an appearance. In 2011, two of the biggest names—Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic—didn't make the trip, citing nagging injuries and the need for a break from the relentless ATP tour. In 2012, Andy Murray lost to Novak Djokovic, likely fueling his recent triumphant display at Wimbledon.
The Shanghai tournament is great for both the obsessive tennis enthusiast and the casual tag-along. The expansive grounds ensure that you're never too far away from some good old fashioned space (something that can be a problem at well-attended sporting events), and the availability of cheap beer (roughly RMB 25 for cans of Heineken) and hot dogs are a welcome bonus. The size of the two main stadiums (15,000 and 5,000 seats) allows plenty of room for shuffling about and guarantees that you'll be able to sit with all of your friends (you're so popular!). On top of all that, the tournament releases a practice schedule each day, and you can see the world's best tennis players hitting from up close on the practice courts that dot the grounds.
So! As summer rolls in, so the Shanghai Rolex Masters rolls 'round again. Take some time to check out our little mini-site here; you'll find tickets, information about Qizhong Stadium (including how to get there), and our coverage of the event in the weeks leading up to and during the tournament.