Organisers insist the Sydney International won’t be hurt by a clash with an expanded Fast4 exhibition tennis event featuring Rafael Nadal, Nick Kyrgios and retiring Lleyton Hewitt.
Tennis Australia unveiled the Fast4 on Thursday, moving to a teams contest – Australia v the World – with French star Gael Monfils and former greats John McEnroe and Pat Cash also involved and playing the quick-fire Fast4 format of four points per game, four games per set.
The only problem is it falls on Monday, January 11, coinciding with the second day of Sydney International, and will also be played within the Olympic Park precinct, at AllPhones Arena.
Last year’s world-first Fast4 event featuring Hewitt and Roger Federer also clashed but was held at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in the inner-city.
Sydney tennis fans given the choice – and the chance to see Nadal and Kyrgios plus Hewitt making his last Sydney appearance – could well use their money to attend the Fast4.
But Tennis NSW chief executive Alistair MacDonald believed it would only enhance the Sydney International, of which he is also tournament director.
“I can appreciate that some people might think it would compromise the Apia (Sydney International), but I think it adds value to our week of tennis,” he said.
“I don’t think it will be a problem. We launched globally Fast4 last year on the Tuesday night which is on the same time as Apia as well. We sold that event out in record time for us within 48 hours.
“We also still had a full house at the men’s final (of the Sydney International) which was also the first time since the Olympics.”
The Fast4 program, which is run by both Tennis Australia and Tennis NSW, isn’t the only event to see expansion this year.
The legends program will also grow at this year’s Sydney International, expanding on the shortened match played between Pat Rafter and John McEnroe which drew almost 11,000 people last year.
“This year we’re going to go with John McEnroe against Henri Leconte on Friday night, and we’re going to go with Goran Ivanisevic and Mark Philippoussis on Saturday night,” McDonald said.
“So we’re extending that Saturday night to Friday night, to again try and get our numbers up and create an entertaining product.”