Australian Open offers record prize money

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The Independent Online

The 2010 Australian Open will offer a record £13.2m prize money, up 4.12 percent on the previous year, with winners of the men's and women's singles titles to each pocket £1.3m, organisers said today.

"In this time of economic uncertainty, the Australian Open holds strong as an important international brand in the world of sport and business," the tennis tournament's director Craig Tiley said in a statement.

"Research has shown the event annually brings more than A$240 million (£133m) into the domestic economy, and this year we enjoyed record-breaking attendances, viewing audiences, media coverage and internet hits."

The tennis calendar's first grand slam would also boast a raft of comebacks, with Belgian Justine Henin expected to join compatriot and fellow former world number one Kim Clijsters at Melbourne Park for the January 18-31 tournament.

"I think the respective title races will be more open than they have been in years," said Tiley.

"(Argentine Juan) Del Potro's win in New York (U.S. Open) has blown the men's event wide open and Clijsters' (U.S. Open title) effort, combined with Henin's comeback, has had a similar effect on the women's."

Organisers had brought starting times for evening sessions 30 minutes earlier to 7 p.m. local time (0800 GMT) and also promised a larger entertainment precinct to more than double spectator space.