Australian Open final goes floodlit
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The move to play the men's final at the Australian Open under floodlights next year was aimed at showcasing the tournament to the Asian and European markets, chief executive Paul McNamee has said.
The men's singles final for the January 17-30 tournament will be played from 7.30pm (8.30 a.m. British time) -- the first evening/night final in men's grand slam tennis.
"It clearly is good for our European picture in the long run because they can get more viewers," McNamee told a news conference at the tournament launch at Melbourne Park.
"It was strictly done for matching the (7.30pm) semi-finals up with the final and making a bigger deal of the finale of the tournament.
"It's really been done from a marketing and presentation perspective. If it leads to better revenues down the road that's fine but that's not the motive for doing it."
Tennis Australia president Geoff Pollard added: "To have a final in prime time in Australia, it's now in good hours in Europe and great hours in Asia so it's a real step forward as far as worldwide coverage goes."
The Australian Open will carry prize money of A$19.1 million (7.7 million pounds), an increase of just A$100,000 on this year's prize pool.
McNamee said sponsorship revenue had dropped and that the global television market had been "tough".
As well as Swiss Roger Federer and Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne defending their crowns, McNamee said he was confident American Andre Agassi would be in Melbourne for the 93rd staging of the tournament, first held in 1905.
"I saw Andre at the U.S. Open and it was also confirmed recently by Steffi (Agassi's wife and former world number one Steffi Graf) that Andre would be coming back and going for his fifth Australian Open title," he said .
Andre Agassi forever