New-look Centre Court takes shape

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The Independent Online

Work on Wimbledon's new-look Centre Court was proceeding apace yesterday. On a day when the All England Club announced a number of changes for this year's championships, including a £750,000 winner's cheque for the men's and women's singles, the first of a set of 70-ton "trusses" – 75-metre-wide coat-hanger-shaped structures which will span the width of the court – was successfully lowered into place on the new roof.

After last summer's crowd was left exposed to one of the wettest Wimbledons in recent memory following the removal of the old roof, the new fixed cover will provide protection at this year's tournament. By the 2009 championships a retractable cover will also be in operation, allowing for play whatever the conditions, although the All England Club insists it will not be a prelude to regular night sessions.

There will be 1,200 more places on Centre Court compared with last year, taking the capacity to 15,000. Most of the other new features on Centre Court will be up and running this year. There are improved catering facilities, including a rooftop bar for debenture holders, and a new Wimbledon shop.

Work is also under way on a new No 2 court, which will be operational from next year. The 4,000-capacity stadium, which is being built on what was Court 13, has a sunken playing surface, 3.5 metres below ground level.

Total prize money has been increased by 4.7 per cent to £11.8m. The two singles champions will receive £750,000 each, a 7.1 per cent increase on last year, while prize money for each of the men's and women's doubles competitions will exceed £1m for the first time.

Andy Murray was yesterday knocked out of the Open Sabadell Atlantico Barcelona at the second-round stage, losing 6-4 6-4 to the Croat, Mario Ancic. Murray squandered a handful of break points in losing to the world No 51.