A Journey around the ATP World Tour 500s

Take a tour around the world to see where the world’s top ATP stars travel to play in the 500 tournaments.

In 2017, there are 13 ATP 500 tournaments dotted across the calendar, taking place in locations all over the globe on various court surfaces. As per ATP rules, the world’s top 30 men (based on end-of-year rankings) must play in at least four 500s, including one after the US Open in August/September. All of these, which funnily enough offer 500 ranking points for the victor, are live on Tennis TV.

February features four such events, beginning with play indoors at the Dutch city of Rotterdam. Many famous names have won the tournament there over the years, including Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg and Stefan Edberg. In 2016, Martin Klizan was the surprise trophy winner. This year, Rafa Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem are scheduled to lead a strong field at the 44th edition of the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament.

The week after, action moves from a chilly Netherlands to the clay courts of a warm, humid Rio de Janeiro. After hosting the unforgettable tennis event at the 2016 Olympics, Brazil’s most famous city will welcome back some of the ATP’s biggest names for the 2017 Rio Open. Japanese superstar Kei Nishikori, plus Dominic Thiem and 2015 winner David Ferrer are in the line-up. In another 2016 surprise at the 500s, Pablo Cuevas downed Rafa Nadal in the semis and then went on to win the title, beating Guido Pella in the final.

Not one but two 500s come directly after Rio, as the majority of the top men’s stars appear on outdoor hard courts in either Acapulco or Dubai. At the former, eventual ATP Finals qualifier Domi Thiem won the first 500 title of his career there in 2016; at the latter, three-time Slam winner Stan Wawrinka ended the run of veteran Marcos Baghdatis to triumph.

That’s just one month with four tournaments in and already the range of the world that these ATP World Tour 500 events cover, in exotic yet extremely differing places, is wholly evident.

Next on the slate is a visit to another major global city, as players flock to Barcelona as part of the European clay-court swing before Roland Garros.

As with most of such events on the red dirt, Rafa Nadal has dominated the tournament for the past decade. Excluding 2010, the 14-time Grand Slam champion won the title every year from 2005 to 2013. Following 2016 success in Monte Carlo, he then scored glory in his home country Spain, claiming the Barcelona trophy for an incredible ninth time with victory over then two-time defending champ Kei Nishikori in the final.

Piercing orange turns to green (or a dusty brown after a while), as two high-profile 500s arrive on grass in Halle and London.

Two of the Big Four have controlled these two for many years now. Roger Federer has won eight Halle titles (winning three straight from 2013 to 2015) and, in 2016, Andy Murray became the first player in history to claim five of the giant Queen’s Club trophies.

Queen’s, winner of the 2015 ATP award for 500 tournament of the year, dates right back to 1890 and has attracted the majority of the game’s real greats over the years, with Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Pete Sampras all triumphing there.

At the most recent edition of the event, Andy Murray battled past fellow Brits Aljaz Bedene and Kyle Edmund, before storming back from a set and 3-0 down to beat Canadian Milos Raonic in the final. The two went on to contest the Wimbledon final three Sundays later.

After Wimbledon, two contrasting ATP 500 events come in July. Germany’s second largest city Hamburg welcomes players to its clay courts, while Washington D.C. commences the North American hardcourt swing.

Last year in Germany, Martin Klizan won his second 500 crown of the year; while Gael Monfils saved match point to defeat monster-serving Ivo Karlovic in the U.S. capital.

The 500s then have over two months off, with the US Open and Masters 1000s in Toronto and Cincinnati filling the gap somewhat spectacularly.

Before the year is done though, four more ATP World Tour 500 take place in a busy, ranking point-seeking October.

The capitals of China and Japan host two special tournaments, which always draw the very best to play. Andy Murray began his storming run to the World No.1 ranking with a first title in Beijing in 2016. But Novak Djokovic had dominated the event before that, taking the trophy in the four previous years.

Over in Tokyo, Nick Kyrgios won the first 500 event of his career, outlasting David Goffin in a brilliant three-set final at the Rakuten Japan Open. Kyrgios and Gael Monfils produced some absorbing tennis in the semis too…

Finally, players hop on a flight over to the beautiful countries of Switzerland and Austria, more often than not desperately seeking for points to get into the O2 Arena’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Basel, Roger Federer’s home town, and Vienna stage two indoor hard court tournaments.

Federer, who was a ball boy at the former in his youth, won for a sixth time there in 2015, as fans were treated to a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime final on Swiss soil against Rafa Nadal. The Swiss superstar was forced to miss the 2016 edition though because of a season-ending injury.

In the Austrian capital, Andy Murray added another title to his 2016 collection. The Brit downed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Erste Bank Open championship match.

So of the 13 winners at the ATP 500 tournament in 2016, SEVEN had never won a title at that level before (Klizan, Cuevas, Thiem, Mayer, Monfils, Kyrgios & Cilic). World No.1 Andy Murray captured three trophies, while Martin Klizan grabbed two.

Stretching through four different continents in five different months of the year, from the glamour of Rio to the hustle and bustle of Beijing, the ATP World Tour 500 tournaments will undoubtedly provide fans with some of the most exciting tennis again in 2017.

Sign up to Tennis TV now to watch all the events live this year, with Rotterdam coverage starting on 13th February. Make sure to follow @TennisTV on Twitter too to keep updated on the action.

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