Tennis

Hewitt to help usher in new era at Wimbledon

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 $ 129m highly-complexed 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.

Prize money for qualifying and rounds one to three in the singles will rise by 10 per cent with $ 83,000 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 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.

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