The Olympic effect? 2012 triumphs boost London's ATP ticket sales
Whether it is the Andy Murray effect, the Olympic effect or simply the reputation for excellence the event has built since coming to London, there can be no doubting the box-office appeal of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Next week's season-ending finale at the O2 Arena is all but sold out, with just 6,000 of the 262,000 tickets still for sale and full houses guaranteed for 11 of the 15 sessions.
When the tournament first came to London three years ago some wondered whether the 17,500-capacity arena would be half-empty in midweek, particularly in the afternoon, but from the outset the public have shown their appetite for top-class tennis. Total crowds have exceeded 250,000 in each of the first three years and the 2009 record of 256,830 is set to be broken.
The ticket sales are remarkable considering the economic climate. They have been boosted by a post-Olympic feelgood factor and by the exploits of Murray, who this summer became the first British man to reach a Wimbledon singles final for 74 years, won Olympic gold three weeks later and then ended the country's 76-year wait for a male Grand Slam singles champion by winning the US Open.
Next year's World Tour Finals will be the last at the O2 under the current contract, but given the success of the move to London – a view shared by players and officials as well as the public - there is pressure to renew the deal. A two-year extension is believed to be on the table.
This year's ticket sales have been achieved despite an inevitable lack of pre-publicity because of the tournament calendar. In the past there has been a week's gap between the Paris Masters, which is the last qualifying tournament, and the Finals, but this year they are being played back-to-back.
The tournament features the eight most successful singles players and doubles teams in 2012. The calendar could have meant that the final places would have been decided the day before the tournament started, but the last of the singles places were settled on Thursday and the doubles field was settled last night.
The draw will be made today or tomorrow, depending on results in Paris, which could affect the seedings. The players will be divided into two round-robin groups of four, meaning that everyone will play at least three matches. The round-robin phase will begin on Monday and finish next Saturday, with the semi-finals to be played on Sunday week and the final on Monday week.
Poland's Jerzy Janowicz, who knocked out Murray on Thursday, extended his remarkable run in Paris yesterday when Janko Tipsarevic, apparently suffering with a sore throat, retired from their quarter-final when trailing 3-6, 6-1, 4-1. Janowicz now plays Gilles Simon, who beat Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-4. In last night's later quarter-finals Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was facing David Ferrer, while Michael Llodra was meeting Sam Querrey.
R Federer (Swit), N Djokovic (Serb), A Murray (GB), D Ferrer (Sp), T Berdych (Cz Rep), J-W Tsonga (Fr), J M del Potro (Arg), J Tipsarevic (Serb).
B and M Bryan (US); M Mirnyi (Bela) and D Nestor (Can); L Paes (India) and R Stepanek (Cz Rep); R Lindstedt (Swe) and H Tecau (Rom); M Granollers and M Lopez (Spain); Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (Pak) and J-J Rojer (Neth; M Bhupathi and R Bopanna (India); J Marray (GB) and F Nielsen (Den).
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