Tennis legends tour set to be a smash hit with Edinburgh contest

John McEnroe could be heading for the Capital

John McEnroe could be heading for the Capital

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A MAJOR tennis event featuring some of the greatest players ever to pick up a racquet is heading to the Capital.

Thousands of fans are set to flock to the Capital next year to watch former professionals slug it out in a tournament being staged just a week before Wimbledon.

Bjorn Borg would be sure to be a smash hit

Bjorn Borg would be sure to be a smash hit

And while the final line-up of players will not be known until nearer the time, it is hoped the Capital showdown could feature a meeting of legendary rivals John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg.

The arrival of the ATP Champions Tour in Edinburgh was confirmed by organisers yesterday – although they are still to clarify exactly where the event will be held.

Organisers said they had two venues in mind, and while no details have been revealed it is believed the Craiglockhart Tennis Centre and the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston are likely to be in the running.

Head of Merchiston Tennis Academy, Marcel Du Coudray, a practice partner of former world number three Nikolay Davydenko, hopes the tournament could attract more youngsters to the sport.

He said: “This is going to be a great opportunity for players of the highest calibre to return to Edinburgh and a chance for young players to think about the history of the game.

“With Andy Murray’s success there has been a massive lift in tennis in Scotland and this is going to add another layer to it.

“If the return of the past greats reignites the interest of parents and gets them playing again, they may well encourage their children to try the sport.”

One of the players who regularly takes part in the ATP Champions tour is Murray’s coach, former world number one Ivan Lendl.

Tournament owner and director Viki Mendelssohn said: “Scotland has been crying out for a tennis event like this, we need something new in the marketplace.”

There will be two sessions per day – afternoon and early evening – with each featuring one Champions Tour match and one legends match, plus an exhibition doubles clash at a covered court in the city centre.

Funding has been secured from EventScotland.

Festivals and events champion for the city, councillor Steve Cardownie, said: “It’s fantastic news that the ATP Champions Tour will be coming to Scotland’s Capital next summer, further cementing this city’s much-envied reputation as the home of top-notch sporting and cultural events.

“There can be few places on earth which can offer the potent combination Edinburgh has become synonymous with: namely superbly delivered events set against arguably the most stunning backdrop anyone could wish for.”

In recent weeks, the News has told of plans to open tennis courts at Leith Links and improve current facilities at the Meadows.

To register for tickets, visit www.championsoftennis.com.