Patrick Rafter will face two-time Grand Slam finalist Cedric Pioline in his opening match on the BlackRock Tour of Champions in Graz on Tuesday.
Playing in his first event on the circuit of former World No.1s, Grand Slam singles champions and finalists, and Davis Cup winners, the Australian will also need to find a way past home favourite Thomas Muster and Henri Leconte. If he reaches the final, he could set up a possible repeat of the 2001 Wimbledon final against Goran Ivanisevic.
In Group B, Ivanisevic will take on fellow Wimbledon winner Michael Stich, former World No.1 Marcelo Rios and Carl-Uwe Steeb.
Its probably the first time since retirement that I have actually felt this way, said Rafter, when asked why he had decided to return to tennis after seven years away from the sport.
“This year I have decided to get fit again. I train about 5 days a week which is gym, running and some other interesting fitness techniques. I surf as much as I can as well. I understand quite a few of the players play the tournaments (on the BlackRock Tour of Champions) so while it would be great to win in Graz, I just want to play well.”
All players in each group will play each other over the first three days, and the players finishing top of each group will meet each other in the final. Those finishing second in each group will contest the 3rd/4th place play-off.
Matches are played over the best of three sets, with a Champions Tie-break (first to 10 points with a clear advantage of two) to decide the winner.
Two weeks ago in Istanbul, Ivanisevic won the Turkcell Legends Cup to move to No.1 in the South African Airways Champions Tour Rankings.
After Graz, the Tour will move on to Algarve, Portugal for the Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD (August 5-8).
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On-site contact: Martin Dagahs email@example.com or +43 316 572 618
LATEST GROUP STANDINGS
Matches won/lost (sets)
Thomas Muster 0-0 (0-0)
Patrick Rafter 0-0 (0-0)
Cedric Pioline 0-0 (0-0)
Henri Leconte 0-0 (0-0)
Matches won/lost (sets)
Goran Ivanisevic 0-0 (0-0)
Marcelo Rios 0-0 (0-0)
Michael Stich 0-0 (0-0)
Marc-Kevin Goellner 0-0 (0-0)
SCHEDULE TUESDAY 29 JULY, 2008
14.00 Marcelo Rios vs Michael Stich
Followed by Patrick Rafter vs Cedric Pioline
Followed by Thomas Muster vs Henri Leconte
BLACKROCK TOUR OF CHAMPIONS POINTS ALLOCATION
Winner 400 points
Finalist 250 points
3rd place 200 points
4th place 125 points
5/6th place 80 points
7/8th place 60 points
SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS 2008 TOUR OF CHAMPIONS RANKINGS (after six events)
POS. PLAYER PTS
1 Goran Ivanisevic 660
2 Michael Stich 650
2= Marcelo Rios 650
4 Anders Jarryd 525
5 Thomas Muster 515
6 Pat Cash 420
7= Pete Sampras 400
7= Cedric Pioline 400
9 Fernando Meligeni 375
10= Mikael Pernfors 330
10= Marc-Kevin Goellner (WC) 330
12 Henri Leconte 240
13= Chris Wilkinson (WC) 200
13= Jaime Oncins 200
15 Sergi Bruguera 160
16= Jeremy Bates (WC) 125
16= Albert Costa 125
18= Magnus Larsson 80
18= John McEnroe 80
18= Andrei Cherkasov 80
21= Bjorn Borg 60
21= Carl Uwe Steeb 60
21= Jaime Yzaga 60
21= Alladin Karagoz (WC) 60
21= Andrei Chesnokov 60
WC denotes Wild Card.
The BlackRock Tour of Champions Calendar 2008
Belfast, Northern Ireland – February 21-24 (Tennis Legends) – Champions: Anders Jarryd; Runner-up: Mikael Pernfors
Barcelona, Spain – April 24-27 (Champions Cup ’08) – Champion: Marcelo Rios; runner-up: Michael Stich
Rome, Italy – May 10-11 – Champion: Thomas Muster; runner-up: Goran Ivanisevic
Hamburg, Germany – May 14-17 (BlackRock Tennis Classic)
Champion: Michael Stich; Runner-up: Marc-Kevin Goellner
Sao Paulo, Brazil – June 19-22 (Nossa Caixa Grand Champions Brasil)
Champion: Pete Sampras; Runner-up: Marcelo Rios
Istanbul, Turkey – July 17-20
Champion: Goran Ivanisevic; Runner-up: Fernando Meligeni
Graz, Austria – July 29-August 2 (s Tennis Masters)
Algarve, Portugal – August 5-8 (Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD)
Paris, France – September 18-21 (5e Trophe Jean-Luc Lagardre)
Luxembourg, Luxembourg – September 25-28
Eindhoven, Netherlands – October 2-5 (AFAS Tennis Classics)
Budapest, Hungary – October 9-12
Frankfurt, Germany – November 13-16 (klarmobil.de Champions Trophy)
Brussels, Belgium – November 20-23
London, UK – December 2-7 (BlackRock Masters Tennis)
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