• New Perth venue aims to be a mini-Melbourne

    12/26/12 3:54 PM | Johan Lindahl
    New Perth venue aims to be a mini-Melbourne Novak Djokovic may feel like he's seeing double after playing at the Hopman Cup, with the Perth teams event aiming to duplicate its big brother Australian Open down to every last technical detail.

    A new blue court - the same one as in Melbourne Park - has been laid and has been getting its first workout as hitting begins. For the first time in the event's quarter-of-a-century history, a moveable roof will be available as the tournament switches to the brand new Perth Arena, capacity 13,900.

    The roof setup also duplicates conditions on show-courts at the Open, with the structure expected to remain open the entire week in usually-sunny western Australia.

    "The court is down, the net's up and the final touches are being made to the lighting to make sure that's all good," tournament director Steve Ayles told local media. "It's exactly the same surface with all the same characteristics as the court used for the Australian Open.

    "The pace rating, the surface, the balls used are all exactly the same, so from a player's perspective it's probably the best preparation they can get in terms of matching that first Grand Slam of the year."

    Djokovic, who pairs with former WTA No. 1 Ana Ivanivic when play begins on Saturday, heads a field which also includes Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and evergreen 34-year-old German Tommy Haas. Serbia reached the 2011 final in Perth but had to withdraw due to Ivanovic's strained stomach muscle.

    Officials say that converting the Perth competition into an outdoor event - just like the Open - is the finishing touch. "From the players' perspective it will feel like they are playing in exactly the same conditions. Even the stadium is somewhat similar in the way it is laid out and the sign-age at Melbourne Park.

    "We have used the Perth Arena to sell this. We've shown them it's an outdoor event now. It's no coincidence Tsonga, Venus Williams and Bernard Tomic are here for the first time. There's no doubt we have successfully used the Perth Arena as one of the reasons to lure them to Perth."

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Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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