Tennis

Big changes in Wimbledon shake-up

Australia’s Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt is to help unveil the new-look No. 1 Court at Wimbledon next month.

Hewitt, who won the 2002 championships, will join several former winners including John McEnroe, Goran Ivanisevic and Martina Navratilova in a test event for the court’s new roof on May 19.

The $ AUD129 million project, which also includes a new two-level public plaza, has been three years in the making and increases attendance on the show court to 12,345.

All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) chairman Phillip Brook also announced that prize money for the third grand slam of the year will rise to $ 70 million — a jump of 11.8 per cent.

The winners of the men’s and women’s singles events will receive $ 4.34 million — an increase of $ 185,000.

Prizemoney for qualifying and rounds one to three in the singles will rise by 10 per cent with $ A83,000 the compensation for a first-round singles exit

The new cash prizes at Wimbledon are still significantly lower than the $ 98 million on offer at the US Open. However, it surpasses the $ 62.5 million at this year’s Australian Open and the French Open’s recently announced $ 67.8 million.

This year’s championships will also see fifth sets decided by a tiebreak for the first time in history when the scores reach 12-all.

It follows last year’s mammoth semi-final between Kevin Anderson and John Isner — which was won 26-24 by the South African — and the infamous match between the American and Nicolas Mahut in 2010.

Isner prevailed 70-68 in the decider of a first-round contest that lasted 11 hours and five minutes over the course of three days.

“We feel 12-all is a good middle point,” said AELTC CEO Richard Lewis. “It can produce an exciting finish, but can’t run very late.

“Six-all then tiebreak feels too early in fifth set. This gives a bit more time to see if one player can win.

“Twelve-all effectively means one more set of tennis so we feel that is a fair amount of time.”

Brook also confirmed the shot clock system in place at the Australian and US Opens to generate faster service play will be introduced in 2020.

WAWRINKA FUMES OVER GIMELSTOB AFFAIR

Three-time grand slam winner Stan Wawrinka echoed Andy Murray’s calls for Justin Gimelstob to quit his role on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) board after the American was sentenced following assault charges.

Gimelstob, himself an ex-professional tennis player, pleaded no contest to felony battery charges and was given three years’ probation and 60 hours of community service by a Los Angeles court on April 22.

Murray told the UK’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper last weekend: “I don’t see how, with everything that has gone on, how it’s possible for him to remain in a position of authority or management at the ATP right now.”

Gimelstob, 41, was in court following an incident in October last year that saw him accused of attacking former friend Randall Kaplan while the venture capitalist, his wife and their two-year-old daughter were trick-or-treating on Halloween.

Kaplan had sought a restraining order against Gimelstob following the attack, alleging the former tennis star had struck him more than 50 times while threatening to kill him.

Gimelstob was also ordered to undergo 52 weeks of anger management classes. Following the verdict, several former players — including Martina Navratilova and Pat Cash — have suggested Gimelstob should not continue with his ATP role.

Meanwhile the All England Club, which runs Wimbledon, announced last week it would ban Gimelstob from attending the Royal Box on Centre Court during this year’s Championships and the invitational doubles tournament in which he had previously taken part.

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