The future of the ATP World Tour Finals is unknown beyond 2015 when the current deal between the Association of Tennis Professionals and the O² Arena in London expires. World number 7 and Grand Slam record holder Roger Federer recently said he hoped the end of season event would remain at the O². However, both Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic have said the event should be moved after 2015. Nadal argues that because players qualify for the ATP Tour Final by playing on all three surfaces (clay, grass and hard), the final event itself should be rotated between those surfaces. Djokovic has repeated commended the O² Arena as a venue but believes the location of the tournament should be changed in order to promote the sport of tennis to a wider global audience.
This poses a dilemma for organisers. The incentives structures at play make sticking with the O² beyond 2015 a sensible choice. The venue is the 2nd biggest tennis arena in the world. Demand for tickets continues to at least match supply, with all sessions at the 2013 event sold out. The British public appear to have very much taken to the O² spectacle.
The issues rasied by Nadal are more sensitive and go right to the heart of competitive balance. It’s no surprise Nadal wants a rotating surface. The king of Roland Garros, who has been beaten just once ever in Paris, is almost untouchable on clay. The ATP World Tour Finals are played indoors on a hard surface. It’s no surprise then that while Federer and Djokovic, both hard court experts, have ten titles between them, the Spaniard is yet to win the event.
The fans don’t seem to mind the lack of competition however. Federer and Djokovic have won every title between them from 2006 to 2013 yet the event has never been as popular. Maybe competition is overrated and fans are more interested in saying the saw the ‘greats’ play live.