Ticket sales for an upcoming tennis exhibition in Taipei featuring legends Andre Agassi and his wife, Steffi Graf, have been slow, the event’s promoter said on Tuesday, but added that it was hoping for a late surge in interest.
Organizers said that only about half of the seats available had been sold as of Tuesday morning, four days before the event, in which Agassi will play one-time foe Goran Ivanisevic and Graf will face off against Martina Hingis.
“We are looking forward to strong walk-up sales,” Integration Sports CEO Jeff Hsu said, expressing optimism because ticket sales have picked up significantly in the past few days.
Hsu said he expects 8,000 of the 12,000 tickets on sale at prices ranging from NT$800 to NT$10,000 to be sold by the time the exhibition, called the “Rise in Legends,” begins on Saturday afternoon.
Agassi will be in Taiwan for the second time in two years after playing in the first “Rise of Legends” in January last year against Russian great Marat Safin in both Taipei and Kaohsiung.
Described by many fans as “memorable,” the Taipei part of last year’s exhibition sold out 80 percent of the Taipei Arena and drew a television audience of more than 2 million viewers, Hsu said.
He was confident that Saturday’s exhibition, which is costing Integration Sports NT$45 million (US$1.52 million) to stage, would build on the goodwill from last year’s “Rise of Legends,” after which Agassi told cheering fans that “it’ll be my goal to talk to my wife to come [to Taiwan] with me next time.”
This time, he will have a new foil, the somewhat quirky, always entertaining, hard-serving Ivanisevic, who lost to Agassi in a memorable five-set final at Wimbledon in 1992, when the American took his first Grand Slam title. The Graf-Hingis match will bring back memories of Graf’s comeback victory over the Swiss star in the 1999 French Open final when Hingis imploded and was roundly booed by the French crowd.
Hingis, known as one of the game’s most cerebral female players, but who is also capable of putting her foot in her mouth, said of Graf in 1998, while the German was nursing an injury, that tennis “is a faster, more athletic game now than when she played. She is old now. Her time has passed.”
Philip Liu, secretary-general of the Chinese Taipei Tennis Association, said he was appreciative of the growing interest in tennis generated by exhibitions like these.
Currently preparing for a possible visit by world No. 1 Novak Djokovic to Taiwan in September, Liu said hosting such events helps promoters build up know-how in hosting similar events. Two exhibition matches last fall (not organized by Integration Sports) featuring Maria Sharapova and Vera Zvonareva, followed by Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer, were far from profitable, Liu said, but he believed it was a matter of time before such events became popular.
“It’s impossible to make money on the first few exhibitions staged,” he said. “It takes time to test the market and make adjustments accordingly.”
China wants to unite its 1.4 billion people through soccer, while also using the sport as “a bridge to work with the rest of the world,” Chinese Football Association secretary-general Liu Yi told reporters in an interview published yesterday. Liu spoke about what lies behind the country’s push to become a major soccer power by 2050. Under Chinese President Xi Jinping — who is described by state media as an “avid soccer fan” — the world’s most populous country has grand plans to host and even one day win a World Cup. Liu spoke about “using football to motivate the whole nation.” “Football is
‘JOB NOT DONE’: The outfielder, who hit a homer and stole two bases, said that players ‘have to be good at all aspects of game all the time and not take plays off’ Los Angeles outfielder Mookie Betts put himself in rarefied company with a standout performance in the Dodgers’ Game 1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in the 116th World Series on Tuesday. Betts sparked the Dodgers’ four-run fifth inning with a walk and two stolen bases, joining Babe Ruth as the only players in World Series history to record such an inning. After walking to lead off the inning, Betts stole second base. After Corey Seager walked, Betts reached third on a double steal, giving the Dodgers runners on second and third with one out. Betts took an aggressive stance off the bag
TENNIS Federer eyes Australia Roger Federer is practicing pain-free after undergoing two knee surgeries this year and said that he expects to return to the circuit at the Australian Open in January. The 39-year-old Swiss reached the semi-finals at Melbourne Park at the start of the year, but missed the rest of the season after undergoing a second arthroscopic procedure on his right knee. “I’m on the right track,” he told German-language magazine Schweizer Illustrierte. “I’m gradually coming back, but I’m going to take my time and don’t want to put any pressure on myself. I will only take part in a
Marcus Rashford once again sank Paris Saint-Germain after netting the decisive goal in a 2-1 Champions League win in the French capital. Rashford, who scored the winning spot-kick when United knocked PSG out two seasons ago, drilled home a low shot three minutes from the end, which won a thrilling Group H contest at a near-empty Parc des Princes. United had taken the lead in the 23rd minute when Bruno Fernandes slotted home from the spot at the second attempt, but Anthony Martial inexplicably headed Neymar’s corner into his own net 10 minutes after the break. The rest of the match was an