Smith, Nastase Lead Finals Club Celebration At Season Finale
The first year of The Finals Club celebrates players from the 1970s
Former players from the 1970s involved in the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals were welcomed to The O2, venue of the season finale in London on Saturday. Stan Smith, the first singles and doubles champion (with Arthur Ashe) at Tokyo in 1970, and four-time former titlist Ilie Nastase took part in a press conference ahead of watching the evening session, alongside 1976 winner Manuel Orantes, and two of the first participants Zeljko Franulovic and Jan Kodes.
More than 20 players, who featured in the year-end singles and doubles championships from the 1970s, have come to the British capital as part of The Finals Club, an initiative that will see many of the game’s former greats from the past 45 years return to the season-ending tournament, where they will be able to reconnect with the sport, their peers, as well as the world’s best players of today.
While players from subsequent decades will be celebrated in future years, the launch of the Finals Club this year has been highlighted by the renaming of Groups A and B for both the singles and doubles in honour of players that made an indelible mark on the tournament in the 1970s. In singles, Group A has been named after Smith and Group B after Nastase. The doubles groups are named Ashe/Smith and Fleming/McEnroe, after Ashe and Smith - the first doubles titlists - and Peter Fleming and John McEnroe, who won the year-end championships for seven straight years.