South Africa’s Kevin Anderson was among the first to lend a supportive voice to the campaign. Image Credit: AFP

London: This year’s Nitto ATP Finals saw a ‘first’ with most of the top professional tennis players lending a helping hand to a wave of new initiatives.

Earlier in the week, the ATP announced several new initiatives that would ensure this year’s Nitto ATP Finals at The O2 as the most sustainable tournament since the season-ending competition moved to London in 2009.

The aim of the measures is to significantly reduce the environmental impact of the eight-day event, in particular the amount of plastic used by players and spectators at The O2 Arena.

For the first time, each player and their teams were provided with optional re-usable bottles for their on-court drinks, while sealed glass bottles were provided in the player locker rooms and bedrooms so that they could prepare their on-court drinks.

South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, vice-president of the ATP Player Council, was among the first to lend a supportive voice to the campaign. “It’s always been on the back of my mind. Just generally I’d say being sort of aware of our environment, something that’s always been important to me. Plastic specifically, during French Open, through Netflix of all places, I saw a documentary called ‘Plastic Oceans’. Once you see it, it’s impossible to unsee it. My coach is also very passionate about it. Something we’re trying to build on,” Anderson told media after his third and final group match against Roger Federer late on Thursday.

“In London and also at the Next Gen tournament [in Milan last week], there have been quite a few initiatives trying to reduce plastic bottles or trying to reuse them. The idea is to take everything we learn from these couple of weeks and then try to create some bigger initiatives next year both from what the players can do and also promoting it to everybody who comes and watches tennis,” he added.

Watercoolers and fountains have also be placed at various points backstage for tournament staff and media, along with the provision of re-usable water bottles to reduce the number of plastic water bottles used over the duration of the tournament.

Additionally, for the first time at the season-ending event, The O2 are working in partnership with Stack-Cup to provide fans with reusable cups for drinks purchased at the venue, which they can return or take home. This is meant to significantly reduce the number of plastic bottles and single-use plastic drinks containers sold, with an estimated 50,000 single use plastic cups being removed from the event waste stream.

Working in close cooperation with AEG, the operators of The O2 Arena, all waste on-site during the Nitto ATP Finals will be passed through the on-site waste compound which houses the latest recycling and waste technology.

Former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka, who has competed at the season-ending event from 2013 to 2016, has also been supportive to the cause. “Protecting the environment is very close to my heart and I fully support what the ATP is doing with these changes. I know that many of my fellow players on the Tour feel the same way and I hope that these initiatives will be replicated at many of our tournaments on the Tour in 2019 and beyond,” he said.

“We can all do better and I’m committed to playing my part. Next year [2019] is the year for us all to make a difference and I’m looking forward to picking up the mantle and putting everything I have behind the initiative of the recycled bottle,” he added.