Tennis: Mercedes to sponsor Tour

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The Independent Online
The men's professional circuit celebrated the most impressive drive of the season yesterday when Mercedes agreed a multi-million dollar deal to become the main sponsor of the ATP Tour, writes John Roberts.

While declining to disclose the precise sum the German car company is willing to pay, Mark Miles, the ATP Tour's chief executive, described the four-year deal as "one of the most significant sponsorship agreements in tennis history and the most significant in the history of the ATP Tour.''

Mercedes will replace IBM as the Tour's main sponsor from next year but, unlike the computer company, it will not become the title sponsor. "We have a three-year agreement with IBM which was coming to a conclusion," Miles said. "We made a decision not to sell the title.''

The ATP Tour Championship, to be held in Frankfurt in November, is to remain in Germany, though a choice of city has yet to be made. The Tour, which runs 85 tournaments in 38 countries, has already announced new television agreements with Eurosport, the German station ZDF and the American cable company, ESPN.