(October 17, 2012) Next January, the Kooyong tennis event now known as the AAMI Classic celebrates its 25th Anniversary. Tournament Director, Colin Stubs, today announced the first four of his eight-man field:
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO – 2009 US Open winner
LLEYTON HEWITT – former World No. 1 and 2011 AAMI Classic winner
KEI NISHIKORI – recent Japan Open winner
MARCOS BAGHDATIS – 2006 Australian Open finalist.
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO has a career high ranking of 4 and 11 titles to his name, two achieved earlier this year in Estoril and Marseille. He also won Olympic Bronze in London and was a finalist in Rotterdam, semi-finalist in Dubai, Cincinnati Masters, Madrid Masters and quarter-finalist in Sydney and Indian Wells Masters, as well as Australian, French and US Opens. The 24 year old is no stranger to adversity, having returned from a right wrist operation in May 2010 to win the ATP “Comeback Player of the Year” award in 2011, when he rose from a ranking of 485 to 11. That grit and determination saw him break back into the top ten again in May this year, after a brief stint at no. 9 in March. He appeared at Kooyong in 2010, but withdrew after his first match because of the wrist injury.
LLEYTON HEWITT returns to Kooyong after winning the event in 2011. The father of 3 won his first tournament in 1998 in home-town Adelaide and went on to amass 28 career titles, including Wimbledon and the US Open. This year he got to the final in Newport, losing to American No. 1 John Isner. He is feared, fearless and thought to be one of the greatest competitors the sport has ever seen. His Australian Davis Cup performances are legendary.
KEI NISHIKORI, who at 22 is the highest-ranked Japanese male in the Open era, reached a best ever ranking of 15 earlier this month when he clinched his second title by winning his home event in Tokyo. The tee-totaller amused his adoring fans at the trophy presentation (which included a sponsor’s bonus) by saying “I don’t know what I’m going to do with a year’s worth of Corona beer – I don’t even like beer”. He made the semis in Kuala Lumpur and quarters at the Australian Open, Newport, Barcelona, Buenos Aires and the London Olympics this year. The quietly spoken Japanese, who shows great determination and tenacity on the court, used those qualities to help his country raise $100,000 in aid after the 2011 tsunami.
MARCOS BAGHDATIS, Australia’s favourite Cypriot, obviously enjoys his Kooyong preparation as he is returning for the fourth time. The 27 year old, who recently married WTA player, Karolina Sprem, won Australian hearts when he unexpectedly reached the 2006 Australian Open final. He has had a recent surge of form, having got to the semi-finals in Tokyo, where he lost to eventual winner Nishikori. He showed great fighting spirit to make the third round in Shanghai last week, after a sensational three set tie-break win over Canadian Milos Raonic in the second round. Other 2012 results include semi-finals in Sydney, Zagreb and Tokyo, as well as quarter-finals in Brisbane and Munich. Kooyong fans will be hoping for a Baghdatis v Hewitt re-match after their epic encounter during the 2008 Australian Open which ended at 4.34 am, becoming the latest match on record.
Stubs is pleased with his first four signings: “We are delighted with our player commitments thus far and look forward to celebrating our 25th Anniversary by staging a sensational event, jam-packed with great tennis, great entertainment and initiatives such as ‘Kids Day’ on the Friday” he said.
More announcements will be made shortly regarding player signings and movements.
Tickets are now on sale at Ticketmaster – 136100 or www.ticketmaster.com.au.