One of the longest running sponsorships in British sport will come to an end after this summer's pre-Wimbledon tournament at Queen's Club. Stella Artois, the lager produced by InBev UK, has been title sponsor of the event for 30 years, but in a change of policy the Lawn Tennis Association is seeking a single sponsor for all the summer grass-court tournaments.
"As part of our new commercial strategy we are looking to market the sport as a complete package, rather than as a series of individual events and programmes," Roger Draper, the LTA's chief executive, said. "The association with Stella Artois has been extremely successful and rewarding for British tennis and the LTA is very grateful to InBev for the long-standing support and investment provided over the last 30 years."
The Queen's Club tournament is firmly established as the most important pre-Wimbledon tournament for men, a fact reflected by the quality of the players who have already committed to this summer's tournament. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Andy Murray and Lleyton Hewitt will all play at Queen's from 9-15 June.
A replacement sponsor may not be the only major change that the LTA will announce in the coming weeks. Draper hinted recently that there may be other changes in the pre-Wimbledon schedule, although Queen's looks certain to remain the jewel in the crown.
Elsewhere, Rafael Nadal started well, despite windy conditions, in the defence of his Pacific Life Open title in Indian Wells, California, with a 6-3 6-3 win against the Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo. In the doubles, Jamie Murray and Max Myrni beat Ivan Ljubicic and Tommy Robredo 6-4 7-6, and they were joined in the next round by Andy Murray and Eric Butorac, who beat Martin Damm and Pavel Vizner 7-6 6-3.