Save articles for later
Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.
- Top-10 stars Jannik Sinner and Holger Rune are among the initial Kooyong Classic signings.
- The popular exhibition tournament is held at the historic Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club.
- The three-day event will finish only two days before the 2024 Australian Open begins.
Two of the world’s top 10 male tennis players – and a third in the top 20 – are among the first batch of tennis stars locked in for next year’s Kooyong Classic.
The beloved Melbourne-based exhibition event, which will run from January 10-12, two days before the Australian Open starts, has locked in Jannik Sinner, Holger Rune, Karen Khachanov, 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem and Chinese trailblazer Zhang Zhizhen.
Holger Rune is one of the best tennis players on the planet.Credit: AP
Italy’s Sinner, 22, has climbed to a career-high world No.4 after his China Open triumph in Beijing and a breakout season, while 20-year-old Rune, of Denmark, is only two spots back, and powerful Russian Khachanov slots in at No.15.
Australian master coach Darren Cahill is a key part of Team Sinner. Sinner, Rune and Carlos Alcaraz are given the best chance of ending 10-time Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic’s domination of the sport.
Zhang created history when he became the first Chinese man late last year to break inside the top 100.
Kooyong Classic tournament director Peter Johnston was delighted with the boutique event’s initial signings, with more to come in the weeks ahead.
“It is a massive tick of approval for the tournament to have players who have excelled on the world’s biggest stages identify this event as an ideal way to prepare for the Australian grand slam tournament,” Johnston said.
“The five signings announced so far all have aspirations of performing extremely strongly at the Australian Open, and this is a great way for them to hone their form. Each one offers something different on the court, which should lead to compelling matches for tennis fans to enjoy over the three days of the tournament.”
Alex de Minaur played at this year’s Kooyong Classic.Credit: Getty Images
The event, held at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club and the only lead-in tournament not run by Tennis Australia, is financially backed by Care A2+ and broadcast on SBS and more than 20 countries internationally.
The Kooyong Classic returned in January from a two-year COVID-19-related hiatus, and offers fans an up-close look at the players primed to contend for Australian Open glory.
Andy Murray, Australia’s Alex de Minaur, Americans Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe, Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Donna Vekic were the stars of the 2023 edition. Alcaraz and Maric Cilic withdrew with respective injuries.
Johnston must negotiate strict ATP and WTA rules for exhibitions while putting together the best possible field. He needs to be more targeted with his female recruits, given a top-three WTA player from the previous year who plays an exhibition cops a $100,000 fine, down to a $15,000 sanction for players ranked 21-50 – but there is no penalty for those below that.
Maria Sharapova used the Kooyong Classic as her Australian Open tune-up in 2020 while she was on the comeback trail from her two-year ban for failing a drug test, while fellow grand slam champions Venus Williams and Emma Raducanu were options this year before injuries sidelined him.
“Fans have told us that the Kooyong Classic is unique because it offers an intimate and unparalleled insight into what makes the world’s best players tick, and we expect this summer’s event will be no different,” Johnston said.
Tickets for next year’s Kooyong Classic are on sale through Ticketek, while anyone interested in a corporate box can contact Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club on 9822 3333.
News, results and expert analysis from the weekend of sport sent every Monday. Sign up for our Sport newsletter.
Most Viewed in Sport
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article