Five days before the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals start, the work begins transform London's O2 Arena—the city's second-largest indoor venue in terms of seating capacity—into the show court for the top-eight men’s singles players and doubles teams.
As is customary for quick-installation inside an arena, the ATP World Tour Finals will again employ a wooden surface—this version laid by Greenset—for the singular court inside O2. Multiple layers of acrylic paint on top form the hard court which, according to Barclays ATP World Tour Finals event director Adam Hogg, aims to “deliver a medium-paced fair surface which allows all styles of play to thrive, while also delivering exciting tennis."
Hogg says the one court allows for an entertainment-styled focus on the show court. The O2 Arena's court will be the same blue on blue scheme, the “preferred” colors of all ATP World Tour hard court events.
“Within the arena we aim to deliver a world-leading event presentation that enhances the spectacle of the tennis and provides the fan with a memorable experience,” he says.
That all starts outside the arena. With access to the grounds for the ATP up to six weeks before the tournament starts, crews can build a media center, hospitality areas, three practice courts (players can also choose to practice at The Queen’s Club in west London) and other facilities, such as a Fan Zone. Within this zone, Hogg says, the ATP wants to open up an interactive space for the general public to experience tennis and watch the players practice.
The Nov. 15-22 event in London will see the top eight men—Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer and Kei Nishikori—compete for the year-end championship title. After the draw on Thursday, World No. 1 and defending champion Djokovic has been drawn in the same group as Federer at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, with Berdych and Nishikori joining the in Group Stan Smith. World No. 2 Murray has been drawn in Group Ilie Nastase with Wawrinka, Nadal and Ferrer.
As players spend the entire year solidifying their position at the World Tour Finals, the ATP has just six weeks to prepare an environment around O2 Arena and five days inside to make the event the showcase everyone expects.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, sneakers and design for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.