The Australian Open Will Organize A Wildcard Playoff In China In The Wake Of Li Na's Success
The Australian Open tennis tournament is organizing a wildcard playoff event in China next month "to build on the sport’s rising popularity in Asia following Li Na’s Grand Slam success," according to Danielle Rossingh of BLOOMBERG. The 30-year-old Chinese player is the first from Asia to win a singles title at one of the four Grand Slam events. The Australian Open will be hosting its first wildcard playoff in Nanjing, China in October. The year’s first major tournament starts Jan. 14 in Melbourne. Australian state Victoria's Premier politician Ted Baillieu said in an e-mailed statement from Tennis Australia, "The success of China’s home-grown champion, Li Na, continues to build interest and excitement for both the sport and the tournament." The Asia-Pacific wildcard playoff will see the region’s top players compete for an entry to the tournament (BLOOMBERG, 9/17). REUTERS noted that Asia is an "important market both for attracting visitors to Melbourne to watch the tournament and for TV audiences to bolster the value of media rights." Tennis Australia CEO Steve Wood said, "There has been a 400% increase in visitation to the Australian Open from the Asia-Pacific region over the past eight years" (REUTERS, 9/17).