Tennis: Singapore to host ATP 250 event from Feb 22-28

Italian Jannik Sinner on his way to winning the ATP 250 Sofia Open final in Bulgaria on Nov 14, 2020. Such events are the lowest tier on the main ATP Tour.
Italian Jannik Sinner on his way to winning the ATP 250 Sofia Open final in Bulgaria on Nov 14, 2020. Such events are the lowest tier on the main ATP Tour.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Singapore will host an ATP 250 tournament from Feb 22-28 at the OCBC Arena on a single-year licence, the ATP announced on its website on Wednesday (Jan 20).

Another event in Marbella, Spain was also added to men's tennis tour calendar "to create increased playing opportunities, in the face of scheduling challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic".

Other measures include an expanded draw size at various tournaments, including the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, the ATP 250 Cordoba Open and Argentina Open.

The Singapore Tennis Open is right after the Feb 8-21 Australian Open - the year's first Major tournament - while the tournament in Marbella will be from April 5-11.

National agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) said in a press statement on Wednesday that it will work with the Singapore Tennis Association (STA), the Singapore Tourism Board and the Singapore Sports Hub to "ensure strict implementation of safe management measures at the venue, as well as travel protocol for players and officials in line with prevailing government regulations".

"The combined effort will be an important facet of enabling international sporting events to return to Singapore in stages through 2021," it added.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said in a Facebook post that he is "looking forward to top-class tennis action".

He added the tournament "will likely see a top men's field, some of whom will be fresh from the Australian Open 2021 at Melbourne Park".

"We are happy that the ATP, the governing body of men's professional tennis, has awarded this ATP 250 to Singapore. It will be our first ATP 250 tournament, hosted in Singapore," said Mr Tong.

Singapore hosted the WTA Finals from 2014 to 2018 before it moved to Shenzhen, China.

Before that, the last top-level tournament on the professional tennis circuit here was the 1999 men's Heineken Open.

The Republic had put in a bid to host the season-ending ATP Finals from 2021 but eventually lost out to Turin, which replaces London from this year to 2025.

SportSG chief executive Lim Teck Yin said: "This ATP 250 Tournament is an important competition in ATP's adjusted calendar for the year.

"Singapore's hosting of this event capitalises on the 'Asia Swing' and will pave the way for future collaboration with the ATP for future men's tennis events.

"We are mindful that the Covid-19 situation is fluid and will adapt measures for the tournament that are consistent with the national posture.

"We are monitoring the situation at the Australian Open where the majority of players will be coming to Singapore from.

"We are committed to bringing sport back safely and deliver an event to activate the industry and to inspire fans and the tennis fraternity."

Alison Lee, executive vice-president of the international region at ATP, said: "Singapore has an excellent track record delivering international sporting events to a world-class standard.

"We have confidence this tournament will be no exception, with a primary focus on ensuring safety.

"We look forward to bringing another ATP tournament to the Asia region, which will provide valuable opportunities for our players for the 2021 season."

Aside from the WTA Finals, Singapore has hosted top sporting events such as Formula One's Singapore Grand Prix since 2008 and golf's HSBC Women's World Championship.

Clement Leow, president of the STA, welcomed the latest marquee addition, saying: "A successful ATP 250 event in Singapore will contribute greatly towards the safe return to sports, as well as fire up the tennis fraternity and help to further promote the sport of tennis in Singapore."

The ATP 250 tournaments are the lowest tier of annual men's tennis tournaments on the main ATP Tour, after the four Grand Slams, the ATP Finals, ATP Tour Masters 1000 and ATP 500 tournaments.

A typical season has over 60 tournaments.

Further details on tournament, including player profiles, schedules, Covid-19 protocols and event ticketing will be released soon.

According to the ATP website, the Singapore Tennis Open will be a hard-court event featuring a 28-strong singles field and 16-pair doubles field.

Two other ATP events - the Cordoba Open in Argentina and the Open Sud de France in Montpellier - are set to take place in the same week.