By Justin Cohen
· According to Marca, Roger Federer is the second most popular athlete on Facebook. The current World No. 1 has 3.18 million Facebook fans.
· Maria Sharapova has signed an eight-year sponsorship deal with Nike, which is reportedly worth $70 million.
· According to CNBC, Kim Clijsters has signed a multi-year clothing and shoe deal with Fila.
· Juan Carlos Ferrero has signed a three-year clothing deal with Joma, a Spanish apparel company. Joma is also worn by Feliciano Lopez.
· According to the Melbourne Age, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour now allows tournaments to pay appearance fees to players. For many years, the ATP World Tour has allowed appearance fees to be given to its players in tournaments outside the Grand Slam and Masters level events. While the range of appearance fees is broad, cities such as Doha and Dubai, as well as some Asian cities are rumored to distribute the largest fees.
· InsideOut Sports & Entertainment announced on Tuesday that Staples will be the new title sponsor for the $150,000 Champions Series event in Boston. The event will be held at the Agganis Arena on the campus of Boston University from April 29-May 2. The Staples Champions Cup will feature eight players including Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Jim Courier. The tournament will mark Borg’s first tournament in the United States since 2000.
· Tennis Channel’s Australian Open coverage begins on Monday, January 18 at 7pm, ET. Tennis Channel will showcase close to 30 hours of live or first-run match coverage.
· Via Twitter, @tenniswire reports that ESPN2 will show the Australian Open in high-definition starting on Sunday.
· Gael Monfils withdrew from this week’s Medibank International in Sydney with a shoulder injury and is in doubt for the Australian Open. David Nalbandian status is also in doubt after withdrawing from the Heineken Open in Auckland, New Zealand, with an abdominal strain. Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu has already withdrawn from the Australian Open with a groin injury.
· Sebastien Grosjean and Stephanie Cohen-Aloro have been granted the French reciprocal wildcards for the main draw of the Australian Open. 15-year-old British star Laura Robson has been awarded a wildcard into the women’s qualifying tournament.
· American Ryan Harrison, who earned a main draw wildcard for the men’s event at the Australian Open, will work with the USTA’s David Roditi in Melbourne.
· During the Australian Open, Tommy Haas, Gilles Simon and Stanislas Wawrinka will use the legendary HEAD Prestige with updated YOUTEK technology.
· Jacob’s Creek, an associate sponsor of the upcoming Australian Open, is building a floating tennis court on the Yarra River in Melbourne and will feature an exhibition match between Patrick Rafter and Wally Masur. “He will probably beat me – after all he is a couple of years younger than I am but I will give it my best shot,” said Masur. “The Australian Open is all about the fans so it’s great that Jacob’s Creek is bringing the tennis to the city of Melbourne with an event that everyone can come along to watch. It should be a lot of fun.”
· ATP World Tour President and Executive Chairman Adam Helfant has appointed Kate Gordon as the Vice President of Corporate Communications for the ATP World Tour. Gordon, who starts her duties at the ATP this week and will be based in London, most recently was the UK Head of Sports and Sponsorship for Edelman Public Relations. “We are very much looking forward to having Kate bring her experience and enthusiasm to the Tour,” said Helfant. “Kate’s impressive track record in a wide variety of sports will help not only in expanding the reach and impact of tennis, but will add a broad perspective to the global operations of the Tour.”
· Pierce O’Neil, the Chief Business Officer of the USTA, announced that he will be moving on from his role after 15 years. “Pierce has been a tremendous asset to the USTA over the last fifteen years” said Lucy Garvin, the Chairman and President of the USTA. “His leadership, vision, creativity and skills have benefited the USTA in so many ways.”
· The USTA named Harlan Stone as its Chief Business and Marketing Officer, which is a new position created by the USTA due to an internal reorganization. All sponsorship, marketing and communications for professional and community tennis will report into Stone.
· Kevin Kempin of HEAD USA has been promoted from President Racquet Sports Division to CEO HEAD USA.
· Russian Ekaterina Bychkova has been suspended for 30-days and fined $5,000 for not telling tennis officials that she had been contacted to fix a match. Rules established by the Tennis Integrity Unit in 2007 require any player who is approached to fix a match to report the incident within 48 hours.
· Coco Vandeweghe is no longer working with the USTA and will exclusively be coached by Robert Van’t Hof.
· Serena Williams has agreed to participate in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event in Charleston. Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka and Melanie Oudin have already signed up to play in the tournament, which will be held in April.
· According to reports on the Palm Beach Post website, Chris Evert and professional golfer Greg Norman have finalized their divorce in a Florida court. There was no exchange of money between Evert and Norman according to a source.
· Davis Cup defending champion Spain will host Switzerland from March 5-7 during its first round tie at the 11,000 seat Plaza de Toros bullring. On Tuesday, the Swiss Tennis Federation confirmed that the highly anticipated Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal matchup will not take place since the top ranked player will not participate in Davis Cup action.
· Fernando Gonzalez will participate in Chile’s first round Davis Cup tie against Israel. Last season, Gonzalez refused to play because of a dispute with the Head of the Chilean Tennis Federation.