Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The excitement of watching the ATP tour tennis tournament at O2, London

The one sport that I watch with total involvement is Tennis. I actually sit in front of the TV set with an intent to watch, complete with involuntary jerks and hand motions imitating all the shots that the players should have gone in for. My agony at a netted forehand or a drop shot that falls a hair’s breadth outside the side lines rivals that of the player who at the moment is digging a hole in the court with his racket using it like a pickaxe. I must have been a failed tennis player in my last life or at the very least a failed singles player who turned to the doubles game (mind it! The doubles version is quite entertaining and players earn a decent livelihood. Point in case- Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes).
I am completely transfixed. Never mind Wimbledon and those high falutin Grand Slam championships, it is the ATP 1000 World Tour at the O2 that I wait for every year. Held in the dying weeks of the tennis season, this is a tournament only for the Top Ten of the World. Meaning, only the Top Ten are invited and they play each other in a round robin till the champion is distilled through the finest and the best ten layers to emerge as the only person on the podium. There are no easy opening draws as with other championships where a good player has it easy by playing wild cards or players outside the top 50. Here it is grunt, shovel, grunt, sweat, pant from round one.
This year’s ATM 1000 was no different. Federer playing Tsonga in round 1 and then Federer and Nadal battling in O2 gladiatorial arena with blue light washing over spectators and white light flooding the center court. It’s like going straight to the dessert part of dinner without having to eat your broccoli and fish soup. And the tickets! That’s the best part of this championship. You don’t need to bankrupt yourself or dip into your retirement fund to see a spot of action between top players. Even at this moment, you will find tickets available in boxes closest to the court going for the cheapest ticket of 179 pounds to the most expensive of £ 950. There are other tickets available also immediately around the court perimeter for as cheap as £ 119. The tickets for the finals again the box close to the court goes for as high as £1950 and as cheap as £ 227. Well there are also tickets available for as little as £ 96.99 and £ 179 for a night and afternoon play session respectively. These tickets are for seats at the top tier which if you consider the court as a fish bowl then the top tier would be the rim of the bowl. Oh there also the prize money of $5million to consider. A neat pile to earn at the end of the season so that you must stop at a bank on your way to the Caribbean or Bali for a well-earned r&r.
Compare these with any other Grand Slam tickets and you will notice the difference. For all Wimbledon’s claims to be a Middle Class, genteel sport where heads wear lovely hats and hands hold the customary bowl do strawberries and cream, it is anything but. The ATP World Tour Finals is a more egalitarian venue where tickets are available for as low as 20 pounds for initial matches and you don’t feel cheated because even that early in the tournament you get witness world class action from players who play a far different level of sport than say Qatar Open or Dubai Open.
So folks I suggest unless you are given free tickets in the corporate box, do check the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 in London. The tickets are cheap, the atmosphere very sci-fi and the location awesome. Am I promoting this event? Absolutely, especially after my initial outrage at the astronomical prices of the premier tennis events.


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