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Game on in Shanghai as tennis greats come to town
It's that time of year again; the time of year when the great and the good of the global tennis circuit descend on the banks of the Huangpu River and prepare to duke it out for glory in the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
Between October 4th and October 12th, the eyes of the tennis world will be on Shanghai. Defending champion Novak Djokovic is back to have another crack at the title, and maybe to add the $3.8million prize fund to his already impressive pot. He will be up against it though, as GB's own Andy Murray and Swiss legend Roger Federer are also busy preparing for their campaigns.
As always, the event is held at the sprawling QiZhong Sports Arena in the Minhang area of the city. This 80-hectare location holds 15,000 spectators and, in typical Chinese fashion, sports a natty retractable roof designed to resemble a magnolia flower.
Take the Shanghai Metro to Zhuanqiao Station on Line 5. From here it is advisable to get a taxi, although this should only cost you about 14RMB. Alternatively, the organizers have laid on handy shuttle buses which depart from People's Square in the centre of the city, as well as from Shanghai's South Stadium.
Unfortunately there is no homegrown talent on show at the Shanghai Rolex Masters. As an ATP event, the masters is only open to male players, which means neither world number 21 Peng Shuai or highly rated 16-year-old Xu Shilin will be on hand to wow home fans.
Top rated Chinese male, Wu Di's current ATP ranking of 201 excludes him from competition at such a high-profile event.
The attentions of the tennis community have been turned towards China in recent weeks as one of its all-time WTA greats announced her retirement. Former world number two Li Na called time on her glittering career on September 19th, aged only 32.
The reigning Australian Open champion told a stunned tennis community that she would be hanging up her racket after suffering an injury to her left knee. Having already undergone three surgeries on her other knee she decided that she owed it to her body to quit while she was ahead.
So while one tennis great bows out, next month's tournament in Shanghai serves as a remainder the sport is still alive and kicking in the PRC. Get yourself down to the QiZhong Sports Arena in the first fortnight of October and take a look for yourself.