Tennis: Wimbledon 99 - Court Circular - New horizons for money machine

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The Independent Online
THE MARKETING juggernaut otherwise know as the men's tennis tour announced yesterday it will roll into two new territories in the next two years when the ATP Tour Championship moves on from Hanover. The Championship is the end-of-season round-robin tournament for the top eight men of the year and is held towards the end of November. Tim Henman reached the semi- final in Germany last year, picking up pounds 190,000 of the tournament's pounds 2.25m prizemoney in the process. Traditionally, the Championship has been held in the same city for several years and then moved on, but the ATP announced yesterday it will take place in Lisbon next year and the then in Sao Paulo in 2001. "Both fit in perfectly with our strategy to bring our Championship event to different leading cities around the world," Mark Miles, the chief executive of the ATP said. In other words, both countries were prepared to pay more for the right to stage the event. Figures are not released, but it is understood that Barcelona's failed bid was worth some pounds 1.2m less to the tennis authorities and ISL, their marketing licensers, than the successful cities' bids. ISL paid $1.2bn (pounds 750m) in April to market the Tour Championship and the Super 9 tournament (the nine "next-best" events after the Grand Slams) over the next decade. Among its other clients are the International Olympic Committee, football's world and European governing bodies, Fifa and Uefa, and the world governing bodies of basketball (Fiba) and swimming (Fina). Winning and losing? Taking part? Forget all that. It's the branding of the product to achieve optimal market penetration that matters. Tiddlywinks, anyone?

IT'S GOOD to know that all the money being poured into the game will benefit our players, not least Greg Rusedski, who recently signed a 10- year deal with the sportswear manufacturer, Donnay. His potential earnings are enormous, and the deal could net him $50m (pounds 31m). All he has to do is win every Grand Slam (all 40 of them) in the next decade and simultaneously reach No 1 in the world and then stay there for the whole 10 years and the money is his. Should Rusedski fall short of his modest targets, the British No 2 will still receive $1m (pounds 600,000) for each Grand Slam win, and the same amount for each year he is No 1 in the world. And should he fail even to do that? Well, there's some rackets and kit.

IT WAS not a good day for Germany's B Becker yesterday, as he lost in the first round of the boys' singles. Fortunatelly for Boris, it was not everyone's favourite ginger-haired German who was eliminated, but Benjamin Becker, an unrelated compatriot of the 31-year old three-times champion.

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