LOS ANGELES, November 13, 2006 —
Panasonic presents the Tennis Channel Open – the Las Vegas-based ATP tournament owned and operated by The Tennis Channel – announced today that defending champion James Blake and 2006 runner-up Lleyton Hewitt will return to the event, set for Feb. 25-March 4, 2007, at the Amanda & Stacy Darling Memorial Tennis Center.
“We’re thrilled that James and Lleyton will be back in 2007,” said David Egdes, tournament director and senior vice president, tennis industry relations, The Tennis Channel. “After the success and excitement of their run to the finals in our inaugural event, we felt a sequel for both was a must, and we’re glad they agree. Their participation in the new round-robin format will be an added bonus for all fans.”
The fifth-seeded Blake won the inaugural Las Vegas championship on March 4, 2006, upsetting the top-seeded Hewitt 7-5, 2-6, 6-3. It was Blake’s first win in seven meetings with Hewitt, and catapulted him into the best year of his career. He followed his Tennis Channel Open win with a run to the Pacific Life Open final in Indian Wells, Calif., and a title at the RCA Championships in Indianapolis. He even broke into the top five in world singles rankings at one point. Blake is currently the No. 8 singles player in world.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to return to Las Vegas and defend my title at the Tennis Channel Open,” said Blake. “The Tennis Channel put together a lot of creative ideas and did a great job with the tournament during its first year in Las Vegas. I really had a good experience and am looking forward to returning to Las Vegas for the Tennis Channel Open next year.”
Hewitt is one of the most consistent performers and recognizable stars in professional tennis, and a player who was recognized by Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman with a key to the city prior to last year’s event. The Adelaide, Australia, native became the youngest qualifier in Australian Open history in 1997, at 15 years and 11 months, and quickly set about adding his name to the country’s long list of tennis legends. He won the 2001 US Open and 2002 Wimbledon titles, and was a vital piece of Australia’s 1999 and 2003 Davis Cup championship teams. Most recently Hewitt reached the quarterfinals at this year’s Wimbledon and the US Open tournaments. He is ranked No. 20.
The 2007 Panasonic presents the Tennis Channel Open is one of five U.S. tournaments in the ATP’s 2007 round-robin pilot program, unveiled in October. As one of the participants in this new fan-friendly system, the 32-player singles competition will begin Sunday instead of the traditional Monday, with an eight-match, 16-player playoff for entry into the round-robin stage. The eight winners will join 16 higher ranked players to create eight pools of three. Each player will then play two guaranteed matches against the others in his pool, with the winner of each group advancing to the single-elimination stage of quarterfinal, semifinal and championship play.
The trial format ensures that spectators and television viewers alike will have the chance to see their favorite players, including top draws like Blake and Hewitt, at least twice at the Tennis Channel Open, if not more.
“Tennis Channel Open ticket holders, TV audiences and players alike are going to love this fantastic new tournament format, which is great for Las Vegas, this event and the sport overall,” said Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO, The Tennis Channel. “We’re thrilled and appreciative that the ATP selected the Tennis Channel Open as the second tournament in the United States to showcase this groundbreaking tennis evolution, and the first in the world to have round-robin play on national TV. We are more committed than ever to the growth of tennis and helping to build the profile of Las Vegas as a leading player in world-class sporting events.”
Individual tickets for the 2007 Panasonic presents the Tennis Channel Open will be available Wednesday, Nov. 15. Ticket packages are already on sale, with UNLV Tickets again handling ticket sales for the tournament. Fans can purchase tickets at 866-641-OPEN (866-641-6736) or www.tennischannelopen.com. In the Las Vegas area, tennis fans can buy tickets at Station Casinos, Fiesta Properties, Galleria Mall and the Thomas & Mack Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
The Tennis Channel plans for a return of the groundbreaking “Tennispalooza” tournament theme in 2007, which this year brought paddle tennis, fast-stringing contests, unique qualifier formats, live performances, motocross, air hockey and foosball to men’s and women’s pro, junior and collegiate tennis. The event brings the network’s sports and lifestyle programming to life in an annual tennis destination set under the neon of one of the world’s most exciting and fastest growing cities.
The Tennis Channel (www.thetennischannel.com) is the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to tennis and the healthy, active lifestyle that surrounds it, and forges the personal connection between the professionals on the court and the game’s millions of aficionados. The home for people who watch, play and live their passions through tennis, the network is a hybrid of comprehensive sports coverage, health and fitness programming, pop culture and entertainment access, and lifestyle and travel information. The Tennis Channel is the most concentrated single-sport network in television, with telecast rights to Roland Garros (the French Open), the US Open Series, ATP Masters Series, top-tier Sony Ericsson WTA Tour championship competitions, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, Fed Cup and Hyundai Hopman Cup, the combination of which offer the compelling, ongoing story of the game’s most dramatic rivalries, energetic personalities and emotional, yearlong journey.
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