Attending the ATP tennis finals 2019
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I’ve been fortunate enough to watch tennis at both Wimbledon and The French Open, but this week I had the chance to watch an indoor game at The O2. This was due to the Nitto ATP tennis finals being in town, their penultimate year in London before it heads to Turin in 2021. Check out the ATP website for all the finer details.
Where are the ATP Finals held?
For the last few years they have been held at The O2 Arena in Greenwich, London. It’s the perfect space for it, is easy to get to on the Jubilee Line, and has countless eateries to choose from pre-event. Our tickets were for the ‘B’ entrance which happen to be the main entrance for the arena, straight in front of you when you arrive from the ‘North Greenwich’ tube station.
Quick Tip! If you have the ‘O2 Priority’ use it to skip the crowds by entering the entrance to the right (see below). This gives you access to the O2 Blueroom, a private elevator to get upstairs + somewhere to go to the toilet between matches to avoid the invariable queues!
Where are the ATP finals in 2020?
The 2020 finals will be at The O2 in London for the 12th and last time (2009 – 2020). In 2021 they will move to Turin. Before London the finals were in Shanghai for 4 years (2005 – 2008).
Are there many places to eat?
There are over 40 bars and restaurants so you’re bound to find something to your taste. We decided to eat at Wasabi before going through security as then we could get our food straight away and not have the worry of wondering when our pizza was going to turn up! Doors opened for the event at 16:45, the doubles match started at 18:00, and you might want time to go exploring in-between the two too.
Post security, as well as the usual (albeit pricier) food and drinks stores there was a merchandise shop, a VR tennis game, and both the doubles and singles trophies. The queue for the former will be much shorter than the latter so if, like us, you don’t want to queue up then find the doubles trophy for a photo opportunity.
The merchandise shop might tempt you though 😉 The top offering were used tennis balls from that week’s ATP tour but also from previous Grand Slam tournaments as well.
What’s the view like at The O2?
Our seats were in section 102, row Y, seats 73/74 – just two seats away from the aisle. This gave a great “side-on” view, completely different to the standard “over-the-shoulder “view you get on the TV. When side-on it gives you a far better idea of how hard, and how low they’re actually hitting the ball.
Circling three sides are the corporate boxes with many people “higher up in the Gods”. I’d thoroughly recommend section 102 but all seats seemed to afford a fairly good and atmospheric view.
Any other nice touches?
There’s a lot more razzmatazz at the ATP tennis finals compared to the likes of Wimbledon and The French Open. For a start there’s a big Jumbotron screen hovering above the court, a bigger one at the far end, a light show before the stars enter the arena plus sound effects when there’s an ace, deuce or a break point.
Nitto were sponsoring this year’s event and by tweeting the #nittoatpfinals hashtag you had the chance to appear on the big Jumbotron screens. Here’s us with our pre-game “selfie”. Luckily I had my camera at the ready as it only appeared the once!
And the actual tennis?
When we attended at the start of the week the doubles game started at 18:00 with the singles match scheduled “not before 20:00”.
On our first evening at The O2 the doubles finished at 19:45, the night after at 19:30. This gave a little more time to have a comfort break between matches before the 20:00 start for the singles.
On both nights the singles matches only lasted two sets so they both finished before 22:00. That still amounted to a minimum of 3h 15m of actual tennis though 🙂
Isn’t the format a little different?
Yes – the ATP format is also a little different to what you might be used to. All doubles matches are two tie-break sets with a ‘match tie-break’ if required (first to 10 points). There’s no advantage rule so the first couple to get a point after deuce win that game. The Jumbotron screen flashes up ‘DEUCE DECIDING POINT’ to make everybody aware of the fact. It seemed a pretty good idea if you ask me! It certainly speeds things up. All the singles matches are the best of three tie-break sets and have the normal advantage rule.
Who did we see when we went?
In the singles draw we watched ‘Federer vs Thiem’ one day and ‘Nadal vs Zverev’ the next. By getting tickets for the start of the week we knew who we were watching at least. However if you’ve bought tickets before the schedule’s been announced it’s going to be a little ‘pot luck’. Similarly getting hold of finals day tickets doesn’t guarantee you getting a Nadal, Federer or Djokovic. Last year’s winner (2018) was Zverev for instance … but then his opponent was at least Djokovic .
As well as being wowed by Nadal’s moves we witnessed the sublime top spin backhand of Federer over and over again! A thing of beauty!
And when Nadal was receiving some 140+mph screamers from Germany’s Zverev then this is how far back he felt he had to stand! Zverev delivered one serve at 147mph!
The ATP tennis finals – in conclusion?
If you never quite manage to get tickets for Wimbledon or simply want to watch some indoors tennis outside the summer months then the ATP tennis finals certainly tick all the boxes. Tickets are fairly easy to come by and you’re guaranteed to see two of the top eight seeded stars for both the singles and the doubles. Rain isn’t going to stop play and you can enjoy some food beforehand too.
We live north of London and found it incredibly easy to go from North Hertfordshire > London Bridge > Jubilee line to North Greenwich in less than 1h 15 minutes.
Another top tip! Make a rush for the door as soon as the umpire utters ‘Game, set, match!’. Leaving 5 minutes earlier saves you 15+ mins at North Greenwich tube station which has a crowd safety “throttling” system in operation.
Anybody else been to watch the ATP finals? What did you think of it compared to the Grand Slam tournaments?
DISCLOSURE: The tickets for this event were kindly gifted by The Canary Islands, but all views are my own.