3/4/13 3:07 AM | Johan Lindahl
Former player, and current ATP board member Justin Gimelstob is working to try and bring tennis back to Los Angeles after the departure of the city's only ATP event to Bogata.
The controversial and outspoken Gimelstob is already testing the waters for what he hopes could somehow become an ATP event, staging an exhibition next week at UCLA just prior to the start of the Indian Wells Masters 1000 in the desert 200 kilometres to the east.
The lineup for the exho is to include weekend Dubai winner Novak Djokovic, along with LA-based German Tommy Haas, local Pete Sampras, James Blake, and the Bryan brothers. Matches will feature Haas v Blake and Mardy Fish facing Djokovic. Sampras and Djokovic will then team in doubles against the Bryans.
"You've got the No. 1 player in the world, the best American player ever and the best men's doubles team ever," Gimelstob told the LA Times. "Novak is doing it because he's a friend and he understands what we are trying to do here.
"It's just sad and depressing that we have no tournament here and I refuse to accept that tennis is dead in LA; Mardy and I don't want to see it die. An LA event the week before Indian Wells is right in the flow of the schedule. It all starts with talent, and talent will always be coming this way to Indian Wells."
The evening will be staged in the newly renovated Pauley pavilion, a basketball venue located just a few hundred metres form the site of the ill-fated ATP tournament on the university campus.
If plans work out, the exho will be expanded to two nights in 2014, Gimelstob said.
One clash with the proposed tournament would come with the powerful Dubai event, beloved by almost all top players. Pulling the drawcards to LA instead of the Gulf would would be a huge - if not impossible - ask, given the apparent lack of funding from the US side in face of the millions Dubai is able to pay every year for top talent.
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