The Kooyong Classic tennis exhibition tournament in Melbourne, Australia has announced star players and significant new commercial partnerships ahead of its 2020 edition.
The tournament has traditionally been a curtain-raiser for the Australian Open, taking place the week before the grand slam and featuring eight invited men’s players, and also on several occasions a women’s competition.
In 2020, former world number one players Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova will take part in the revived women’s competition, with more players to be announced in the coming weeks.
The tournament has agreed a three-year title sponsorship deal with renewable energy company AgBioEn, under which it will be called the AgBioEn Kooyong Classic.
In a press release, AgBioEn director Charles Hunting, said: “As AgBioEn grows its role in this country’s greener and renewable future, we believe this partnership will hold success for both parties, bringing together heritage and our collective hope for the future.”
The Mediapro Asia agency has agreed a three-year deal to sell the tournament’s domestic and international media and sponsorship rights. The agency’s managing director Lars Heidenreich said: “We first became involved last year to increase the broadcast exposure of the event internationally. From there, we saw the potential growth of the event and we are delighted to expand our role on a long-term basis.”
Welcoming the deals with AgBioEn and Mediapro Asia, the tournament’s director Peter Johnston said: “The AgBioEn Kooyong Classic is perfectly positioned to provide the all-important final warm-up for players competing at the Australian Open the following week.
“Kooyong fans have seen their fair share of male number one players, now it is time for them to welcome two former female number ones who are both massive stars of the game.
“AgBioEn and Mediapro Asia have recognised that the new-look format heralds a new future for the event, and we’re absolutely delighted to welcome them.”
Australian public-service broadcaster SBS has got rights for the 2020 edition, and will show live coverage on free-to-air television. SBS director of sport Ken Shipp said: “Australians love the drama and excitement of tennis – the Kooyong Classic is one of the iconic events on the sports calendar, and this partnership sees the tournament returning live and free to all Australians.”
The tournament’s venue, the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club has just begun a multi-million-dollar redevelopment. This will result in a reduced capacity of 5,000 in 2020, while work is conducted on the stadium, clubhouse and other parts of the site.
The 2020 Kooyong Classic takes place on January 14-16.