Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Martina Hingis, Steffi Graf & Andre Agassi Taipei exhibition

Taipei, May 23 (CNA) Grand slam winners Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis and Goran Ivanisevic will arrive in Taiwan Thursday and play exhibition matches and coach young talents over the following two days, organizers said Wednesday. 

The arrival of the stars, who have bagged 36 grand slam singles titles between them, is expected to boost awareness of Taiwan's tennis scene, said Integration Sports Inc., the organizer of the second Rise of Legends event. 

On Friday, the players will coach a group of teenage players at Taipei Arena and attend a welcome banquet later that day. 

The following day there will be three exhibition matches at the same venue, including Agassi vs. Ivanisevic, Graf vs. Hingis and a mixed doubles contest. 

This will be Agassi's second visit to Taiwan in two years after playing in the first Rise of Legends event in January 2011 against Russian great Marat Safin. 

After an entertaining match in Kaohsiung City, where he beat Safin 3-6, 6-3, 10-8 in a super tiebreaker, the 42-year-old American promised the cheering crowd that he would try to convince his wife to come to Taiwan with him next time. 

Organizers said they expect 8,000 of the 12,000 tickets -- on sale at prices ranging from NT$800 (US$27) to NT$10,000 -- to be sold before Saturday's exhibition games, adding that initial sales have been slow but have been picking up recently. 

Local tennis fans will also be out in force, with 250 individuals volunteering to help with the exhibition matches. 

"We hope to build up public interests in the sport through more interactions with fans," said event promoter March Che.

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