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Volume 10 No. 25

Events and Attractions

The Australian Open is making an "unprecedented push into the sport's new frontier and doing it via a handful of digital platforms" in order to "capitalise on a booming interest in tennis in China," according to Adam Cooper of THE AGE. Tennis Australia staff "will publish news stories, updates, photographs, audio, video clips and live scoring" on media outlets such as social networking website Yuku, Sina Weibo -- the Chinese equivalent of Twitter -- and Tencent QQ "in a bid to take the Open to Beijing and beyond." China "boasts one of the best women's players" in Li Na, but the sport is "only starting to take off in the country" with an estimated 14 million participants. Tennis Australia Digital & Publishing Manager Kim Trengove said that it "makes sense for the Australian Open to be promoted heavily in China, given the tournament's position as the grand slam of Asia and the Pacific, and that Australia's geographic proximity to Asia gives it advantages over the host nations of the other three majors." Tencent QQ, one of the "most popular portals in China, also has a seemingly insatiable appetite for everything to do with the Australian Open, and will send four journalists to Melbourne to cover the event." In addition, Tennis Australia has "employed Chinese language students from universities across Melbourne to help market Melbourne Park back to their homeland" (THE AGE, 1/13).

MAKING HISTORY: REUTERS reported that China is "set to take another small step on the long march to becoming a tennis power" when 21-year-old Wu Di meets Croatia's Ivan Dodig in the first round of the Australian Open. The 186th-ranked Wu, from the Yangtze River port of Wuhan, earned a wild card to become the first Chinese man in the main draw of a Grand Slam since Mei Fuchi played at Wimbledon in '59. While Chinese women players "have made major strides in recent years," the men have "trailed far behind." The "pint-sized" Wu said that he "hoped to do his bit for the lagging half of China's population as he battled the butterflies before his Grand Slam debut" (REUTERS, 1/14).

NEW LOOK: In Melbourne, Cooper in a separate piece reported stage one of a redevelopment plan has been "completed at Melbourne Park in time for the Australian Open, and one of the featured developments are elevated viewing spots overlooking the practice courts." Viewed from a "new public area built around Hisense Arena," the courts are part of the National Tennis Centre, the "new home for Australia’s brightest tennis prospects." But during the Open they "will be used as practice courts where fans will get a closer look at the top players." The National Tennis Centre, which has "eight indoor courts and 13 outdoor courts, is the standout" of the A$366M ($386M) redevelopment works that began in early '11. The project is "meant to ensure Melbourne will host the Australian Open" until '36 and is "set to give visitors a new look over the next few years" (THE AGE, 1/13).

The women's cricket World Cup begins in Mumbai, India on Jan. 31, "but observers are shocked at the low-key preparations for the event," according to Indranil Basu of the TIMES OF INDIA. Int'l Cricket Council sources said that the budget for the event is $3.5M -- 45 times less than the $160M budget for the '11 men's World Cup, which was co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Women's cricket "may be slow and less attractive compared to the men's game, but such huge disparity has disappointed former women cricketers." They noted that "hardly any buzz has been created around the event," except for the ICC "trying to air a few promos here and there." Many Indian women players say that the Board of Control for Cricket in India "has done little to promote their game even though it's not a saleable product in the country." They point out that women's cricket in other Test-playing nations "gets much better treatment than it does in India." The BCCI, however, said that "it was committed to women's cricket." A BCCI official said, "We are trying our best to promote women's cricket. Things have improved after BCCI took over the body" (TIMES OF INDIA, 1/14).

Welterweight boxer Manny Pacquiao "will return to the ring in April"-- and Singapore is vying with Macau, China and Abu Dhabi, UAE to host the fight." Pacquiao’s chief adviser Mike Koncz confirmed on Sunday that the Filipino "will return to the ring in April and the fight -- against an as yet unnamed opponent -- will not be held in the U.S" (BANGKOK POST, 1/14). ... The WINSTONgolf Senior Open will return to the European Senior Tour in '13 after making its debut last year under the name of the Pon Senior Open. The tournament will once again take place at the WINSTONgolf in Vorbeck, near Schwerin in northern Germany from Sept. 6-8, and will carry a €400,000 ($535,000) prize fund (European Tour). ... Qatar "will host the opening round of the FIM MX1/MX2 Motocross World Championship at Losail Motocross Track" on March 1-2 (GULF TIMES, 1/13).