ATP Masters Cup to be kept in Shanghai

Shanghai, China - Chinese promoters of the Masters Cup have agreed to host the tournament in China's commercial capital of Shanghai through 2008, extending their commitment by one year, the ATP announced on Tuesday.

Shanghai first hosted the Tennis Masters Cup in 2002, when the tournament was staged at the city's International Expo Centre. Australia's Lleyton Hewitt won the championship.

The city had since won the right to stage the event, which brings together the top eight ranked men's singles players and doubles teams in the final event of the ATP season, from 2005-2007.

Last year, Argentine David Nalbandian was crowned champion after defeating two-time defending champion Roger Federer in a brand new, 15 000-seat facility, the Qizhong Tennis Centre, which was built for the event.

"The city of Shanghai has embraced this tournament... and we all look forward to returning this year and for many years ahead," Etienne de Villiers, executive chairman of the ATP, organising body of the men's tennis tour, said in a statement.

Officials cited the 2008 Olympic Games, to be held in Beijing, as another factor in Shanghai's favour.

"We hope the Tennis Masters Cup can add to the prestige of the Sports Year," said Qiu Weichang, deputy director of the Shanghai Administration of Sports.

The Masters Cup took over from the Heineken Open, which was based in Shanghai for six years, but in 2005 moved to the southern city of Shenzhen. - Sapa-AP

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