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New WTA tournament in China

It is with great excitement that the city of Shenzhen, China, title sponsor Gemdale, a Shenzhen property developer listed on the Shanghai stock exchange, and the WTA, the Chinese Tennis Association, IMG, CCTV 5, the Municipal Government of Shenzhen, and the district of Longgang in Shenzhen, announced today that a new WTA tennis tournament will take place in the southern Chinese city from next season.

Carrying total prize money of US$ 500,000, and featuring a 32 player singles and 16 pair doubles main draw, together with a 16 player singles qualifying draw, the WTA International Series Shenzhen Gemdale Open will be played from December 29, 2012 to January 5, 2013. It will be hosted on the outdoor hard courts of the magnificent Shenzhen Longgang Tennis Center with its 32 outdoor and indoor courts, set around a world-class 4,000 seat stadium.

China’s own Grand Slam Champion and world #7, Li Na, will spearhead the field. She will be joined by world #11 Marion Bartoli of France -Bartoli will have been ranked within the top-ten for 40 weeks in 2012-, Serbia’s former world #1 ranked player, Jelena Jankovic, and players from more than 15 countries. These include the 25th ranked Hsieh, Su-Wei of Taiwan, the world #28 Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic, Wimbledon Junior Champion Laura Robson of England and China’s Peng Shuai.

Li has set a standard of firsts for players from China and indeed Asia. In 2004 she was the first Chinese player to win a WTA title and that was in Guangzhou. In 2006 she was first to break two ranking barriers being the first from China to make the world’s top 30 and then the top 20. In 2010 she was first Chinese player to crack the top-ten, and a year later really rewrote the history books when she became the first Chinese and Asian player to reach a singles Grand Slam final - the Australian Open. Six months later she went one better and won Asia’s first Grand Slam with the French Open, and equalled the highest ranking for an Asian player by getting to four in the world.

Li Na is truly looking forward to participating in the inaugural event in front of her home fans and in a video message, she said,

“Ni Hao Shenzhen. I would like to congratulate Shenzhen on the confirmation of the Shenzhen Open 2013, and I am excited to confirm that I will be playing the tournament.”

The new five-star Crowne Plaza Shenzhen Longgang City Centre, will be the official home to the players for the tournament. Its location just 12 minutes from the courts, combined with its luxury rooms, gym, pool, restaurants and amenities, is expected to quickly make the hotel a favorite amongst WTA players.

“We are very excited to be adding the Shenzhen Open to the WTA’s calendar in 2013. China and the Asia-Pacific region are key strategic growth markets for the WTA, and Shenzhen will present a fantastic opportunity to continue showcasing women’s tennis to the fans of China, and building the upon the foundation that has been laid by the China Open and Guangzhou International Women’s Open,” said WTA Chairman & CEO, Stacey Allaster. “I would like to personally thank the Chinese Tennis Association, the city of Shenzhen, Gemdale and IMG for making this event possible.”

On behalf of the title sponsor, Gemdale, Mr. Ling Ke, Chairman of Gemdale said, “As a company which began in Shenzhen and now has 22 branches in China, Gemdale is proud to be the inaugural title sponsor of the Shenzhen Gemdale Open, especially at a time when tennis is in such good standing in our country. Our corporate beliefs of “building in a scientific way”, “professionalism, perfectionism and persistency” and “delivering best performance” are the exact characteristics shared by all WTA players. Through our support of this tournament, along with the government of Shenzhen and Longgang, we look forward to enhancing the image of Shenzhen worldwide, as well as establishing Shenzhen as a top-level destination for sporting events with visitors from places far and wide.”

In a message recorded from the WTA Championships in Istanbul, where she was one of the two alternate players, the French #1 Marion Bartoli said, “Bonjour. I am excited to be playing the first Shenzhen Gemdale Open and congratulate Shenzhen for securing this exciting new tournament in China.”

Peng Shuai is one of only three players from China to have been ranked in the world’s top 15, having reached a career high of 14 which is second only to Li Na. This year she reached the quarters at Guangzhou, Dallas and Kuala Lumpur and made the last 16 at Wimbledon, Beijing and Cincinnati, where she upset Jelena Jankovic. Currently ranked 40, she was also a gold medalist at the 2010 Asian Games.

Hsieh Su-Wei is currently at a career high ranking of 25 following a stellar year on Tour that saw her win Kuala Lumpur over Petra Martic, and Guangzhou where she won a dramatic final against Robson. Hsieh was also a semi-finalist at Pattaya City and a quarter-finalist at Birmingham. Additionally on the futures Tour she claimed titles at home in Wenshan, Suzhou and Ningbo.

Robson, the Wimbledon junior champion in 2008 at the age of 14, has enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2012 having reached her first career final in Guangzhou. She made the semis in Palermo and the quarters in Osaka whilst at the US Open she reached the last 16, with stunning wins over Kim Clijsters and Li Na. The teenager had an incredible thrill at the London Olympics when she and Andy Murray won the silver medal in the mixed doubles.

Zakopolova is ranked 28 which is just one short of her career high. The Czech player has had an impressive year reaching the final in Prague, the semis at the Paris Indoor and Eastbourne and the quarters three times including Seoul. The 30 year old also made the last 16 at the French Open and Indian Wells.

The Shenzhen Gemdale Open will be broadcast live with extensive nation-wide coverage on CCTV 5. The event will be showcased to a global television and new media audience through international web and TV broadcasts of matches. The WTA players will also participate in a number of photo shoots to showcase local landmarks in Shenzhen and Longgang. As a pre-Australian Open tournament, the semi-finals will take place on Friday, January 4 whilst the singles and doubles finals will be played on Saturday, January 5, 2013. Subject to expected WTA Board approval, main draw matches will begin on Sunday, December 30, when one of the two top seeds is expected to play.

“Shenzhen is extremely proud to be hosting this new US$500,000 WTA event in our city which genuinely has a passion for tennis,” said Yang Li, Vice Director of Longgang District of Shenzhen. “Our world-class tennis facilities at the Longgang Tennis Center with its 32 courts, broadcast of matches on CCTV 5, world-wide media and television coverage, and the addition of a new annual sporting and entertainment happening for our citizens and visitors alike, make this an exciting day for Shenzhen.”

“With tennis booming in this region off the back of Li Na’s historic Grand Slam victory in Paris last year, and with the support of a dream team of experienced partners such as IMG, CCTV-IMG Sports Management Company, the WTA and CTA, we have high expectations and ambitions for this new edition to Shenzhen’s annual calendar of things to see and enjoy.”

The tournament will feature for the first time at a WTA tournament in southern China, “Hawk-Eye” electronic line calling technology and the Challenge System.

“The Chinese Tennis Association (CTA) is pleased and fully supports the new WTA tournament in Shenzhen and are delighted to welcome this third WTA event to China,” Sun Jinfang, Deputy Chairwoman of the CTA said. “With half a million dollars in prize money, in an excellent tennis facility with 32 courts and providing playing opportunities for our players to compete against the best in the world, the tournament is another milestone in the tennis development of China.”

As with any tournament on the international circuit, sponsors play a vital role and the Shenzhen Open is very happy to announce that Chinese and multinational companies that have already committed to being part of the event: In addition to Gemdale, CNN International, the Crowne Plaza Shenzhen Longgang City Centre, Guinot and Mary Cohr of France, Peak, Wilson, Yili Dairy, 500.com and Kunlun Mountain Water have confirmed their sponsorship of the tournament.

“CCTV-IMG is pleased and excited to be joining forces with the city of Shenzhen and the CTA to add this new $500,000 tournament to the WTA calendar,” said Adam Zhu, Vice Chairman, IMG Asia Pacific & Chairman & President, IMG, Greater China. “With Li Na’s participation along with so many other talented WTA stars like Marion, Jelena and Peng Shuai, the support of CCTV 5 and other media partners, and with strong commercial support, we look forward to building this tournament into one of the finest of its kind on the Tour.”

Tickets for the Shenzhen Open are available through the official ticketing agency, Boyan Piao. Tickets are available via the dedicated hotline on phone # 0755-82841888 / 82841666 or via the Shenzhen Longgang Cultural Center on # 89558888 or via the following websites, www.boyanpiao.com or www.szyt.com . Entry is free for the first day of qualifying and ticket prices range from RMB50 to RMB500 for the semi-finals and finals.

The event has launched an English and Chinese language website and it can be found at: ShenzhenOpenTennis.com

 

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