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Tennis masters swing into Expo

2010. 1 September

( Tennis celebrities including world No 1 Rafael Nadal of Spain, Switzerland's Roger Federer and five other players are expected to make guest appearances at Expo 2010 Shanghai when the city hosts the Shanghai ATP Masters 1000 in October.

The pavilions of the seven countries where the players are from will also feature in a special exhibition space during the Oct 9-17 tournament as part of the "Visit Expo with Tennis Masters" program, officials said.

"It's a win-win cooperation to bring more visitors to Expo 2010, to extend the cultural exchange and make our event a truly international spectator base,
" said Jiang Lan, secretary-general of the organizing committee of the Shanghai Masters.

"So far we have only invited the top seven players from these countries, but we would like to invite more, conditions permitting."

He said fans who buy tickets for the tournament will also be invited to the Expo and any special tennis-related programs the pavilions may organize through "a selective process".

In addition to Nadal and Federer, the Expo will also see the presence of Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic), Robin Soderling (Sweden), Juan Martin del Potro (Argentina), Novak Djokovic (Serbia) and Andy Murray (United Kingdom).

Federer withdrew from last year's Shanghai Masters - one of his favorites - as well as the Japan Open, citing fatigue. Fourteen months previously he had impressed Chinese fans by picking up his first Olympic gold medal at the Beijing Games.

"We do hope that he will make an appearance at the Swiss Pavilion," said Manuel Salchli, the pavilion's director. "We personally have very good memories of Roger Federer from when he won the doubles gold at the Beijing Olympics and visited the House of Switzerland in Beijing. He came there very late, at 4 o'clock in the morning, and he signed autographs and then had a great party."

With some 40 days remaining until the tournament gets underway, the pavilions are still deciding what to display at the Qizhong Tennis Center, said Annika Rembe, commissioner general of the Sweden Pavilion.

"It's a little early to release the secrets, but we will come back (and tell you)," she said.

The Shanghai Tennis Masters Cup, with $3.24 million in prize money, was officially upgraded to ATP World Tour Masters 1000 status last year.

It is Asia's only Masters, making it second in prestige only to the four Grand Slams in men's tennis.

China Daily