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The ATP Sydney Open, formerly known as the New South Wales Open, is a key event in the ATP World Tour calendar. It takes place just one week before the Australian Open. It also boasts one of the lengthiest histories of any ATP tournament, as its origins trace back to 1885. The event was hosted annually as of 1935. Following a recent name change, the official name for the ATP Sydney Open is the Apia International Sydney.
The event is classified as an ATP World Tour 250 Series event. It had once been used as a means for colonial officials to select an Australasian Davis Cup team. Much has changed since then, and the tournament is open to participants from all nations. Australia can still boast some recent success in the ATP Sydney Open though, as Lleyton Hewitt won his fourth title here in 2005, beating Ivo Minar in a one-sided final.
Matches are played at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre in Homebush, a suburb of Western Sydney. The centre was designed to accommodate for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The ATP Sydney Open had previously taken place at the White City complex, located near the Sydney Central Business district.
The winners list here reads like a who’s who of tennis. Former title holders include Arthur Ashe, Rod Laver, Tony Roche, Guy Forget, Pete Sampras, Todd Martin, Lleyton Hewitt and Roger Federer. There have also been some notable runner-ups, such as Thomas Muster, Ivan Lendl, Carlos Moya, Juan-Carlos Ferrero, Tim Henman, Magnus Norman and Goran Ivanisevic.
The Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre also hosts a simultaneous WTA competition. This has also attracted some of the game’s greats. Winners include Monica Seles, Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Jennifer Capriati, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Kim Clijsters, Na Li and Justine Henin. Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Samantha Stosur and Francesca Schiavone are amongst those to have lost out in the final.
The significance of this event is clear, with players short of match practice ahead of the Australian Open. Many find this competition to be useful preparation for the first Slam of the season, as the heat of the Australian summer can be the undoing of many a well thought out title charge.
Competition is fierce here every season. Whilst some players prefer to sit out this week of the season, those that attend in Sydney are eager for success, and looking for the strategy that will give them the edge the following week.
Jarkko Nieminen surprised a few people by winning 2012’s edition of the ATP Sydney Open. He’d been unseeded in a draw that contained the likes of Juan Martin Del Potro, John Isner and Richard Gasquet. The Finn’s 6-2, 7-5 victory over Julien Benneteau in the final earned him his first ATP World Tour title in over six years.
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