Nadal, Laver appear in Australian Open’s international launch

Shanghai, Oct 13 (IANS) Tennis legends Rafael Nadal and Rod Laver — two of the greatest left-handed players in the history of the sport — joined forces here on Tuesday for the first ever international launch of the Australian Open.

With less than 100 days to go until Australian Open 2016 gets under way at Melbourne Park on January 18, Tennis Australia Commercial Director Richard Heaselgrave announced a raft of innovations for the event.

Tuesday’s launch is the latest in a series of Tennis Australia events throughout China to foster relations and develop the sport within the region.

14-time Grand Slam champion Nadal said he was looking forward to returning to Melbourne Park, the scene of his 2009 title win.

“Every year I look forward to play in Melbourne, I have great memories of not only winning the title but each year is a great experience for me as a player,” Nadal said to ausopen.com on Tuesday.

Australian tennis legend Laver, an 11-time Major winner, said it was exciting to see the sport – and the championship he won three times – continue to grow in profile in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Tennis has become such a global sport and it’s great to see so many Asian fans hitting the court and following the Australian Open,” Laver said to ausopen.com on Tuesday.

“Li Na was a tremendous role model and Kei Nishikori is one of the most exciting players on the circuit; it’s great to see them leading the way.”

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