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Canberra ATP Challenger: Tennis ACT aims to have Nick Kyrgios headline in future years

Tennis ACT has a long-term goal of having home-town hero Nick Kyrgios headlining a major tournament in Canberra but will need corporate support for the Canberra ATP Challenger to survive beyond this year.

A stellar field featuring 10 of the top 100 ranked men in the world have converged on the national capital for the $US75,000 ($107,000) tournament, starting on Monday at the Canberra Tennis Centre.

It is the biggest tournament to be held in Canberra since the demise of the former WTA event, the Canberra International, in 2006 and puts the capital on the tennis map a week before the Australian Open.

Tennis is booming in Canberra on Kyrgios' rise to international fame and Tennis ACT is keen to investigate ways to bring more big matches and tournaments to the city.

These include looking at options to include a showcourt as part of plans for the new convention centre in Civic to have an indoor venue in the middle of Canberra.

The Canberra Challenger event was a last-minute addition to the calendar because of the change in the draws at the events in Auckland and Sydney.


The timing couldn't be better as tennis takes centre stage in the build-up to the Australian Open.

Italian Paolo Lorenzi is the highest-ranked player in the field at No.68 in the world, while former world No.19 Marcel Granollers and Australian Matthew Ebden are also among those using the tournament as preparation before the first grand slam of the year.

Having Kyrgios playing a tournament in his home town would be the ultimate drawcard for Tennis ACT.

The 20-year-old has enjoyed a brilliant start to his summer, leading Australia to its first Hopman Cup triumph since 1999.

Kyrgios will play in the Fast4 exhibition tournament in Sydney on Monday night before going to Melbourne for the Kooyong Classic later this week.

Canberra would need to upgrade from a Challenger event to at least an ATP 250 calibre tournament to attract a player of Kyrgios' quality.

Tennis ACT chief executive Ross Triffitt said a lot of things would need to fall into place for that to happen.

"We would love to have a player of Nick's calibre playing here, particularly a home-grown talent be able to play in front of his home crowd," Triffitt said. "But it is baby steps.

"We've got a lot of community work we've got to consider as well.

"Tennis ACT isn't purely about running professional events, it's really about servicing the whole tennis community and this is a piece of that."

The ATP is covering the majority of the costs of running the Canberra Challenger this year.

Triffitt said whether the event went ahead in January – traditionally a tough one for events in Canberra during the school holidays – would depend on public support and whether it made sense financially.

"It's only possible to sustain an event like this in the longer term if there is corporate support for it," Triffitt said.

"The ATP approached Tennis Australia to host it this year. What the plans are for the future, we don't know.

"It will depend on what kind of support we get this time of year in Canberra. January's traditionally a difficult time of year for events.

"If it's very successful, we may be building a case."

The Challenger tournament was announced after the success of the return of the Canberra International in November last year.

Croatian fifth seed Ivan Dodig is making his first visit to Canberra after playing in Australia for the past seven years.

He said the facilities were outstanding for a Challenger tournament and it was the ideal preparation before the Australian Open.

"It's great to have a lot of courts, especially for a Challenger venue," Dodig said. "Also the clay courts, which are amazing, and one of the best gyms I've ever been to.

"We try to play as much as possible to get into form before Melbourne.

"Many great players come here to get a feel of the courts ahead of the first grand slam of the year."