What Are the Major Tournaments in Tennis (& Ones To Watch)?

The world of professional tennis has some pretty impressive stop-off points on the 11-month calendar. If you are new to tennis or an avid fan and want to learn more about the professional game's most exciting, prestigious, and scenic tennis tournaments, you’ve come to the right place!

Grand Slams

The grand slam events in tennis are the biggest, most prestigious, and highest ranking in terms of prize money. 2000 ranking points are on offer for the winner of a grand slam and multiple millions in prize money. This means that many of the world’s best players aim to peak for these 4 events, as even getting into the main draw can set up a player’s entire year! 

The grand slams are played over 5 sets for men, and 3 sets for women, and all now feature tie breaks in the 5th set to keep matches from becoming too long

Grand slam tournaments are played over a 2 week period for the main draw, but the qualifying event actually takes place a week beforehand. This means that a player will play 1 of the 7 matches required to win a grand slam every 2 days. Grand slams also have the largest draw of any singles tournament throughout the year, with 128 players getting to battle it out in the first round. 

This differs from most other, week-long tournaments throughout the professional tennis calendar, and gives players a longer period of time to recover between grueling, long matches. 

So, let’s take a closer look at the major tournaments in tennis and which ones you should see for yourself!

Australian Open

The first grand slam of the year is the Australian Open. This is the chance to see which players have really nailed their off-season training! The Aussie Open is often referred to as the happy slam, on account of it being incredibly well organized, and the ground staff working there being so accommodating! 

Novak Djokovic has dominated the Australian Open in recent years, taking hard-court tennis to new heights with his all-court game. The Australian Open always has quite rowdy crowds, and many spectators treat themselves to a drink or two while enjoying the tennis.

French Open

The French Open, or Roland Garros as it is otherwise known, is the only grand slam played on clay. It is held in the center of Paris and has been dominated, of course, by the great Rafael Nadal for the past two decades. 

The origin of the name Roland Garros is an interesting one, as it happens. Roland Garros himself was a French aviator killed in WWI. The president of French tennis at the inception of the tournament in the 1920s, Emile Lesueur, was a classmate of his at school. In order to honor his childhood friend forever more, Lesueur named the tournament after his friend. 

The partisan crowds at the French Open are often vocal about their views and can cheer a home favorite just as quickly as a plucky underdog. However, get on the wrong side of the Parisian pack and they can turn on you with whistles and boos!


Arguably the most regal, prestigious, and coveted tennis tournament in the world is Wimbledon. Most professional players aspiring to make it in the game want to win Wimbledon and become world number 1. That’s how important this slam is to everyone! 

Wimbledon is the last remaining major tournament to be played on grass. The Australian Open and US Open used to be played on grass, but over the past 50 years or so have been played on hard courts. 

Wimbledon has a unique atmosphere, given that players must wear strictly all-white clothing. This is a tradition that has never been broken and is a long-standing quirk of Wimbledon’s classy appeal. The spectators at Wimbledon are more similar to polo or horse racing spectators than typical tennis fans. There is hardly ever any noise between points and all spectators at Wimbledon are encouraged to be incredibly respectful to the players on court at all times. 

Both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have dominated the grass courts of SW19 over the past couple of decades.

US Open

The US Open is the most electric, buzzing, and bold grand slam of the lot. Situated in New York City’s Flushing Meadows, the US Open is a real spectacle to behold! It has the largest center court in all of tennis, the Arthur Ashe Stadium, and is always a party atmosphere even when the players are in the middle of a point!

The US Open tends to have the most diverse mix of champions on both the men’s and women’s sides. Because it is near the end of the tennis calendar, there is often a chance that some of the season’s front runners become injured or have a drop off in form, leaving up-and-coming stars to take the trophy!

Masters 1000

The next tier down from the grand slams in ATP professional tennis is the masters 1000 events. Previously known as the masters series events, the ATP Masters 1000s are highly sought-after events that bring tennis players to different major cities around the world. 

Again, there are many ranking points and a lot of prize money on the line with these tournaments, so players will strive to perform well at as many of these events as possible throughout the year. Most masters 1000 events are pretty exclusive, with draws of just 56 players in the opening round. However, the first two events of the year in Indian Wells and Miami have a larger draw, of 96 players. 

So, let’s take a closer look at the Masters 1000 events and what makes each of them so special.

Indian Wells

The first masters 1000 event of the year is Indian Wells. Set in the desert of California USA, Indian Wells is often described as a tennis paradise. The hot weather, epic views, and incredibly well-run event make this a tournament so many players want to win! 

Indian Wells always has a strong draw, featuring 96 players all competing for the trophy.

Miami Open

The Miami Open is another top-tier masters 1000 event that so many players want to win. Winning both Indian Wells and Miami is known as the ‘Sunshine Double’ due to the great weather that is always so great in those parts of America! 

Miami is known as a party city, and the atmosphere is always great at the Miami Open tennis tournament.


Monte-Carlo Masters

The first major tournament in the clay court swing is the Monte-Carlo masters. Despite the name, the tournament is actually held in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in France, rather than Monaco itself.

Despite this, the Monte-Carlo Masters is arguably one of the most picturesque events on the whole professional tennis tour! The backdrop overlooking the French riviera is a sight to beyond on its own, let alone the great tennis that gets played at the tournament.

Players like Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic, Alexander Zverev, and Grigor Dimitrov base themselves out of the Monte-Carlo country club, since they live in the city and need top-class facilities to sharpen their skills in the off-season.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have been the favorites at the Monte-Carlo masters over the past couple of decades, but players like Stefanos Tsitsipas have pushed their way through in recent years too.

Madrid Open

The Madrid Open is a forward-thinking, unique tennis tournament in the professional calendar. It has historically been played on clay as part of the clay court swing leading up to the French Open. However, the tournament was actually played on hard courts at the Madrid Arena between 2002 and 2008. 

One of the most controversial moments for the Madrid Open came in 2012 when the organizers experimented with Blue Clay. Roger Federer would go on to beat Tomas Berdych in the final, which was a very entertaining match to watch. However, the blue clay was deemed to be incredibly slippery and borderline dangerous for the majority of players and was then scrapped for the following year.

Italian Open (Rome)

Another very popular masters 1000 tournament with players and spectators alike is the Italian Open, held in Rome. This historic event is often branded as a gladiatorial arena of tennis and is set in one of the most historic and picturesque venues on the tour.

Rome is a fantastic place to visit anyway, but the tennis on offer on the clay courts of the Foro Italico is always stunning to watch.

Canadian Open

The Canadian Open is unique as it changes venue year after year. On odd years it is played in Toronto, and on even-numbered years it is played in Montreal. 

This is one of the biggest, and most prestigious masters 1000 events in the tennis calendar and always has a strong field, meaning that a range of different champions has been crowned in recent years. The Canadian Open, Monte-Carlo Masters, and Cincinnati Masters are the older tournaments of this grading, all predating 1900.

Cincinnati Masters

Another masters 1000 tournament with heritage and prestige is the Cincinnati Masters. Held in Mason, Ohio, the Cincy tournament attracts some of the world’s best players year after year. Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have had a lot of success here over the years, and it is clear to see why in the hot, fast conditions.

Shanghai Masters

One of the most recent additions to the masters 1000 calendar is the Shanghai Rolex Masters. This event is held in one of the most iconic and beautiful tennis stadiums in the world and was conceived in 2009. 

Tennis fans in Shanghai are very enthusiastic about the sport they love and always turn out in huge numbers to support their favorite players. They have also witnessed some of the most jaw-dropping matches over the years that the tournament has been active.

Paris Masters

The Paris Masters is held in Bercy each year and marks the end of the regular masters 1000 events. This is an indoor event that always attracts a wide range of talented players, along with plenty of adoring tennis fans.

The indoor arena at the Paris masters means the crowd’s roars echo around the place and make the atmosphere electric.


The Best Tennis Tournaments to see as a Spectator

Here are some of the best events that tennis fans all over the world should try and see at least once in their life. These events sit outside of the grand slam and masters 1000 categories and are particularly special due to their unique formats.

ATP Finals

The final event in the ATP and WTA calendars is the ATP/WTA Finals, featuring just the top 8 players in the world from that year. This is a unique event that sees the absolute cream of the crop battle it out for the end-of-year championships. 

The ATP finals in London were held at the O2 arena for almost a decade, and are now hosted in Turin, Italy. This is a fantastic event that presents a rare, guaranteed opportunity to see the world’s best tennis players face off against each other. Played in a round-robin tournament that culminates in an end-of-year champion being crowned.

Davis Cup/Fed Cup

One of the most historic and iconic atmospheres out of all of the tennis tournaments is the team environment of the Davis Cup and Fed Cup. These team events are billed as the world cup of tennis, and see countries battle it out with the hope of being named the best in the world. 

The team element of these events makes the crowds incredibly lively, much like a football match! This is a far cry from the hushed lawns of Wimbledon and brings a loud, exciting atmosphere to team tennis.

Laver Cup

Whilst the Laver Cup is technically an exhibition event, it was organized and founded by the great Roger Federer and is a cross between the Ryder Cup in golf and Davis Cup team tennis. 

The Laver Cup looks to celebrate the greatness of global tennis, pitting Europe against the rest of the world for a showdown in a new city at each event. 

Laver Cup seeks to bring tennis to new locations and features marquee players from around the world. 

The atmosphere is very much geared towards a celebration of great tennis and the Laver Cup is definitely an event worth visiting.

Summary of Major Tournaments in Tennis

Overall, visiting some of the major tennis tournaments on the calendar is a great way to experience professional tennis up close and personal.

Some of the biggest and best tournaments in the world are dotted in places you may have never visited before, so it is well worth following the ATP and WTA tours around the world to see new places and watch your favorite players.

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