Revamped tennis venue “looking fantastic” for Tokyo 2020

The annual All-Japan Championships is already a major event on the country’s tennis calendar, but this year’s tournament had the bonus of acting as the test event for the sport for Tokyo 2020 – with the revamped centre court, the Ariake Coliseum, winning the approval of organisers.

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Ryo Noguchi and Makoto Hondama, part of an all-Japanese field, won the men and women’s titles respectively. Noguchi beat Kita Shimizu 6-3, 6-4, while Hondoma came back from losing her first set to defeat Fumiho Akita (4-6, 6-1, 6-1).

Tokito Niki and Shintaro Imai won the men’s doubles, while Kanasaki Morisaki and Mitsuharu Yonehara won the women’s doubles. 

Japan Tennis Association

The tournament, which ran from 23 October to 3 November, allowed the International Tennis Federation, as well as the local organising committee, to run the rule over the Ariake Tennis Forest Park venue, which will stage action at the Olympic Games between 25 July and 2 August.

Both the hard courts of Ariake Coliseum and a new court one were used at the test event. Work on court two, which will be one of the three main arenas of action at the Games, is slated to be complete in March 2020.

The showpiece Ariake Coliseum will seat 10,000 spectators, with a retractable roof allowing some shelter from the heat of Tokyo’s summer.

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Kris Dent, ITF Senior Executive Director of Professional Tennis, was impressed. “Clearly a huge amount of progress has been made,” he said. “Centre court is looking fantastic, all the auxiliary facilities that are required, particularly the indoor tennis centre, are up and exactly how we need them.

“A lot of it is good for legacy, you can see how the tennis centre itself, which is a public, community-based tennis club, is going to have a pretty enhanced offering after the Games, and that’s very important. “As well as the on-court test event itself, in terms of the things we’re trying to achieve, we're looking at how the backroom facilities are working, where there are areas that need to be adjusted, and where we need to put the contingencies in place.”

Some history will certainly be made at the venue next summer: Swiss legend Roger Federer recently confirmed after an exhibition match at the venue that he will compete at Tokyo 2020.

It’ll be a last shot at Olympic glory for 20-time Grand Slam winner Federer, who has yet to add a singles gold medal to his extensive trophy collection: he won the doubles at Beijing 2008, but was defeated in the final of London 2012 by Andy Murray.