While the four ‘Major’ Grand Slam tournaments punctuate the tennis calendar as the most prestigious tournaments, the vast majority of a professional players’ schedule is taken up by slightly lesser-known tournaments: the Masters 1000 events.
Men and women both player Masters events, though not always at the same venue at the same tournament (for example, the men play the Rome Masters around March, while the women play in May). To win a Masters event is to earn 1,000 points towards the world ranking of a player, almost immediately guaranteeing them a top-10 ranking within the game.
There are 11 Masters events per year for both men and women, all worth 1,000 points. Attendance is compulsory at these events for any professional, though it is possible to miss up to three of the Masters if you satisfy certain conditions such as longevity in the game or player age. Masters tournaments are played on two of the major professional surfaces, with long stints in Northern America known as the hard court season and a European stint in the spring referred to as the clay court season.
Bizarrely, there is no Masters 1000 event played on grass despite it being home to perhaps the most recognisable tennis tournament. Along with the Grand Slam Wimbledon, there are other tournaments played on grass in the tennis calendar but none that qualify as a Masters 1000. Most of the Masters events are played on hard court, with just the Rome Masters, Monte Carlo Masters and Madrid Masters played on clay.