Two more WTA events for China
Updated: 2013-01-11 07:46
By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)
Nation's No 1 looking forward to new tournament in Wuhan next year
Li Na's wish to stay at home more during the busy WTA season has come true as two tournaments will move to China next year.
The hype surrounding the new events grew in the Chinese media after last week's Shenzhen Open and delighted China's top players, like Li and Peng Shuai, as they want to spend more time in the country.
Li Na of China hits a return to Agnieska Radwanska of Poland during their women's singles semi-final match at the Sydney International tennis tournament in Sydney Jan 10, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
The tournaments became official on Thursday when the WTA announced two events would be relocated to Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, and Hong Kong in 2014.
Wuhan, the hometown of current World No 6 and 2011 French Open champion Li, will host a Premier 5 event in Week 39; just before the China Open (Beijing).
The tournament will feature at least seven of the 2013 year-end top 10 players competing for more than $2 million in prize money and will replace the Toray Pan Pacific Open (Tokyo), which will celebrate an illustrious 30th and final anniversary this year.
Another International level event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will be relocated to Hong Kong in September 2014 and boost the number of WTA Asia-Pacific events in China to five of a total of 18. There is already a Premier Mandatory event in Beijing and Internationals in Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
"It's a special city for me. I was born there and grew up there," Li said, adding that if her friends on the tour have time, "I want to show them around my hometown".
"It's also beneficial for the young guns as they will have more chances to see the world's best than we got 10 years ago."
The new tournaments are expected to make China a hot destination for the world's elite and trigger even greater enthusiasm for the game here, said WTA boss Stacey Allaster.
"We are excited by the growth of women's professional tennis, particularly in key markets like China and Brazil," said the WTA chairman and CEO.
"Development in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) markets, led by China, has been a strategic priority for the past several years. We look forward to continue strengthening our global brand, developing our sport and building our fan base worldwide."
For the first time in its 40-year history, the WTA will also host three International events in South America during the 2014 season.
In addition to tournaments in Bogota, Colombia, and Florianopolis, Brazil, which will hold its inaugural event next month, an International event will be relocated to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in Week 8 of next year.
Across 54 events in 33 countries, the overall prize money at WTA events will increase by more than 10 percent - from $53.3 million in 2012 to $58.7 million (not including the Grand Slams) this year. That is an increase of 67 percent since 2009.
The following is a summary of the key elements of the updated 2013 WTA calendar and 2014 calendar:
Week 9: Inaugural staging of International event in Florianopolis, Brazil
Week 14: Relocation of International event to Katowice, Poland (from Copenhagen)
Three additional events in China added to the WTA 125 series, bringing total to six
Week 8: Relocation of International event to Rio de Janeiro (from Memphis)
Week 21: Brussels becomes International event
Week 24: Birmingham elevated to Premier 600 event
Week 29: Istanbul returns as International event
Week 37: Relocation of International event to Hong Kong (from Kuala Lumpur)
Week 38: Relocation of Premier 5 event to Wuhan, China (from Tokyo)
Week 43: The host city for the 2014 and beyond WTA Championships is expected to be announced in April 2013 following a global tender that has attracted significant international interest.