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Volume 6 No. 212

Events and Attractions

The Australian Open in '14 will see a boost in prize money to a record A$33M ($30.8M) -- a 10% increase that is "slightly less" than the record-setting uptick last year, according to Linda Pearce of THE AGE. The distribution "will be finalised after discussions with the ATP and the WTA, although the winners will receive" an increase over the $2.5M offered last year. Tennis HOFer Pete Sampras also "will make a rare grand slam appearance" to present the men's trophy at the event. Tournament Dir and Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said of Sampras, "We know we're going to be the envy of the U.S. Open, Wimbledon and Roland Garros to get Pete down here, to celebrate his success and join us for the final week." But the "most visible change for 2014 will be the redevelopment of Margaret Court Arena, the third stadium court behind Rod Laver Arena and Hisense, and the third -- a world first -- to have a retractable roof." The roof "will not be operational" until '15, although it "may be ready for Davis Cup or Fed Cup play before then" (THE AGE, 10/2). The AP noted all four Grand Slams have "greatly increased their prize money in the past two years." Wimbledon "now offers" about $36.5M while the U.S. Open increased its purse to $34.3M and the French Open went up to $29.7M (AP, 10/1).

NADAL BOOST: In Brisbane, Sam Lienert reported Tiley said that "it would be a boost" to have reigning U.S. and French Open champion Rafael Nadal back, after he missed this year's event through illness and injury. Nadal "could next week regain the No.1 ranking" from Novak Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open for the past three years. Tiley: "We're very pleased as things stand today that we're expecting all the top 100 men and all the top 100 women" (BRISBANE TIMES, 10/2). In Melbourne, Peter Rolfe reported the cost of a popular ground pass to the event "has been frozen" at A$34 for the first week of play and go on sale to the public on Oct. 8. However, ground passes for the peak middle weekend of the Grand Slam -- one of only four in the world -- "have risen" A$15 to A$49 a day or A$90 for Saturday and Sunday (HERALD SUN, 10/2).

KID'S DAY: WORLD TENNIS MAGAZINE's Liz Kobak reported Australian Open officials "did not break down the prize money awarded per round Wednesday, but men and women will receive equal amounts as in previous years." The prize money increase is up A$7M in the last two years. Roger Federer "has been enlisted as Ambassador for the tournament’s Kids’ Tennis Day and will join fellow players and Nickelodeon characters at a special Rod Laver Arena show" on Jan. 11 (WORLD TENNIS MAGAZINE, 10/2).

WHO'S IN, WHO'S OUT: In Melbourne, Linda Pearce reported the non-dollar talk at last year's Australian Open launch was of Nadal's "promised return from his latest bout of left-knee tendonitis; 12 months later, the injury of note involves Andy Murray's troublesome lower back." Tiley has no doubt Murray "will be fit to compete at Melbourne Park in 2014." The Wimbledon champion "had surgery last month to alleviate a long-standing disc problem and is unlikely to play again this year. It was the right time for him to actually take that break and he's always had a few niggling back issues. He's fine. I stay in touch with Judy Murray, his mum, she's a friend, and he wants to win the Australian Open, so he'll be fine" (THE AGE, 10/2).

This year’s South Korean F1 Grand Prix "will kick off this weekend in the southwestern city of Yeongam," according to Baek Byung-yeul of the KOREA TIMES. It "remains to be seen whether tropical storm Fitow, forecast to arrive on the peninsula, Sunday, will affect the race in any way." All eyes "will be on Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel who has been cruising on his quest for his fourth consecutive world title." A "win at Yeongam would all but secure his place as world champion." Under its contract with F1, Yeongam "hosts three more GPs after this one" until '16. It "remains to be seen whether there will be an F1 event in Korea after that as the GP has been a crippling money loser for the small South Jeolla Province town." The "accumulated losses from the previous three events are now measured" at around 180B won ($160M) (KOREA TIMES, 10/2).

MotoGP's new dates in Argentina and Brazil "have been confirmed on the 19-race 2014 calendar released by governing body the FIM" (AUTOSPORT, 10/2). ... Cricket "is beginning to make waves in the Cidade Maravilhosa thanks to the recent success of Carioca Cricket Club." Founded in Sept. '11, the club is "the current national champions and this week sees the game go international as Brazil take on Peru for the Amistad Cup in a series of three T20 matches, with five members of the CCC representing the national side" (RIO TIMES, 10/1). ... Some emails "notifying applicants whether they have received tickets for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow have still not arrived, it has been revealed." The majority of people who applied for tickets "were told whether or not they had been successful in emails sent out on Monday." However, a "limited" number has "yet to receive notice from the Games' organisers" (STV, 10/2). ... New Zealand's women's field hockey team has "another tournament on its schedule." Hawkes Bay "will host what is hoped to become an annual event for the women's Black Sticks." The new turf at Sports Park Hawkes Bay "is due for completion in early March" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 10/2). ... The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) announced that Spain will not play in a friendly in Kazakhstan scheduled for November "after the friendly's main sponsor refused to make the agreed payments" (MARCA, 10/2).