[QODLink]
Tennis
Australian Open rallies Asian market
The first slam of the year introduces a regional wildcard playoff in China as it looks to develop pan-regional identity.
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2012 14:42
China's French Open winner Li Na attends press conference to promote 2013 Australian Open [GETTY]

The Australian Open will hold a regional wildcard playoff for entry to the 2013 version of the year's first tennis grand slam in Nanjing in China in October, organisers announced on Monday.

The male and female winners of the playoff, which will take place at China's National Tennis Academy from October 15-21, will gain entry to the main draw of the Melbourne Park tournament, which brands itself the "Grand Slam of the Asia-Pacific".

The Asia-Pacific wildcards were previously decided by nomination, a spokeswoman for Tennis Australia said, and are part of the 16 up for grabs for the Australian Open, eight each for entry to the men's and women's draws.

Two of the eight are allocated in a reciprocal arrangement with the French and U.S. Opens, one goes to the winner of a playoff restricted to Australian players, while the other four are awarded at the discretion of organisers.

"More than half the Australian Open's global media value is now generated from the Asia-Pacific region and new broadcast deals include access to an additional 65 million homes"

Tennis Australia's CEO Steve Wood

The playoff, which will not be open to Australian players, was announced by the Premier of Victoria Ted Baillieu at a news conference in Beijing on Monday, also attended by China's 2011 French Open champion Li Na.

The Australian Open has moved increasingly to identify itself as a pan-regional tournament as Asia, and China in particular, has become a bigger player in the sport.

The China Open, which now boasts a joint $8.3 million WTA/ATP event at the tennis centre built for the 2008 Olympics, has made no secret of its ambition to eventually become a grand slam tournament.

Asia is also an important market both for attracting visitors to Melbourne to watch the tournament and for television audiences to bolster the value of media rights.

"There has been a 400 percent increase in visitation to the Australian Open from the Asia-Pacific region over the past eight years," Tennis Australia's CEO Steve Wood said in news release.

"More than half the Australian Open's global media value is now generated from the Asia-Pacific region and new broadcast deals include access to an additional 65 million homes," he said.

"And when Li Na made her historic run to the final in 2011 we achieved the highest ever broadcast exposure throughout Asia... with 135 million tuning in across the region."

396

Source:
Reuters
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.