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Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Tuesday, 22 June 2010 17:18 UK
International tennis back in Manchester after 16 years
Martina Hingis
Martina Hingis became the youngest female world number one of all time

International tennis is making a return to Manchester after an absence of more than 16 years.

The Manchester Masters 2010 tournament will feature former Wimbledon champions Martina Hingis and Richard Krajicek.

It's the first professional tennis tournament to be held in the city since the Manchester Open came to an end in 1994.

The Manchester Masters is being staged at The Northern tennis club in Didsbury (23-27 June 2010).

With 22 courts including grass, clay and all-weather, The Northern in Didsbury has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the finest lawn tennis clubs in the North of England.

'Wimbledon of the North'

Back in the early 90s, the club hosted some of the biggest names in tennis including Pete Sampras and Goran Ivanisevic at the Manchester Open.

The tournament was so highly regarded, it was an official Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tour event used by the top players as a warm-up for Wimbledon, earning it the nickname, 'Wimbledon of the North.'

However, despite its popularity with Manchester tennis fans, it relocated to Nottingham, ending a five-year golden spell.

Now, sports management company Northern Vision Ltd, which also organises as the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament , is hoping to revive the city's tennis tradition.

The tennis legends, for some reason, seem to get more popular after they've retired. We had John McEnroe at an event in Liverpool and he is treated like a rock star.
Anders Borg, tournament director

Anders Borg is the tournament director. He said the launch of an annual Masters event in Manchester was part of a wider plan to bring live, professional tennis out to the regions.

"A lot of tennis is focused around London," he explained. "Obviously, Wimbledon is a massive event, so is Queen's - it's not that easy to obtain tickets for those events and also the price for the ticket is quite high."

"So, we've been looking for a while now to identify clubs and cities who might be interested in such a high profile event and, for us, Manchester is a perfect venue for it."

But with only former champions competing this time - rather than the current top seeds - will the Manchester Masters still be able to draw the crowds?

The tennis legends, for some reason, seem to get more popular after they have retired," said Anders. "We had John McEnroe at an event in Liverpool and he is treated like a rock star."

World No. 1

Mansour Bahrami
Crowd-pleaser: Mansour Bahrami

Those competing include 29-year-old Martina Hingis, who, in 1997, famously won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open to become the youngest female world No. 1 of all time.

Dutchman Richard Krajicek, who won the Wimbledon men's singles title in 1996, also takes top billing at the Didsbury event.

The Northern will be also play host to Wimbledon crowd-pleaser Mansour Bahrami, known for his trick shots and doubles play; Australian Paul McNamee and former British No. 1 and Davis Cup captain, Jeremy Bates.

Organisers have also added an extra People's Day on Sunday 27 June hoping to attract more tennis fans on a Wimbledon rest day.

Also launching on the Sunday will be the AEGON GB Pro Series Men's event which will see up and coming tennis talent competing on the $10,000 ITF Pro Circuit.

British players Josh Goodall and James Ward head up the list of entrants for the event from 27 June to 3 July in Didsbury.

The Manchester Masters 2010 is at The Northern in Didsbury (23 June - 27 June)




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