London indoor tennis event will pay better than Wimbledon

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London indoor tennis event will pay better than Wimbledon

LONDON - Next week’s ATP World Tour finals at London’s O2 Centre will be the biggest indoor tennis event ever staged, organizers said on Tuesday.

World No.1 Roger Federer heads the cast of the top eight singles players and eight doubles pairs who have qualified for the lucrative year-ending tournament that begins a five-year stay on the banks of the River Thames in Greenwich. On the eve of Wednesday’s draw, which will be performed inside a pod of the London Eye - the largest Ferris wheel in Europe - more than 250,000 seats had been sold for the round-robin tournament which begins on Sunday.

“There is a huge appetite in London for this tournament and it hopefully will put to bed the idea that tennis in this country is a two-week interest around Wimbledon,” tournament director Chris Kermode told Reuters by telephone on Tuesday.

“We’re up to 255,000 seats sold which already makes this the biggest indoor tennis event ever. It’s phenomenal how much interest there has been in it,” Kermode said.

Kermode, who is promising plenty of razzamatazz next week, said London hoped to set new standards for both players and fans alike. While Wimbledon is well-known for its gentile Englishness, next week’s events is aimed at a younger generation with rock music and lights adding to the entertainment. A practice court has been constructed in the foyer of the venue so that the public, even those just visiting the cinema or restaurants, will have a chance to see top players in action.

“When I’ve been to indoor tournaments before the atmosphere has been quite cold and you only experience the tennis in the arena so we have built a practice court in what is called the entertainment district of the O2 where the restaurants are so people will be able to see the players there,” Kermode added.

After the traffic problems in Shanghai, London’s organizers have also come up with a novel way to get the players from their central London hotel out to the venue - they will go by boat.

“We chose the hotel purely for its river access because the traffic in London is so unpredictable,” Kermode said.

Federer will be joined by Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro, Andy Roddick, Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Verdasco, and the quality of the tennis will be matched by the prize money. Should a player win all his round-robin matches, he will pocket $1.63 million, more than the 850,000 pounds ($1.43 million) Federer took from winning Wimbledon this year. Reuters

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