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Tennis aces may appear

RAFAEL Nadal and Roger Federer, the No.1 and No.2 ranked tennis players in the world respectively, may appear at their national pavilions in October during the Shanghai ATP Masters 1000 tournament.

Seven national pavilions, including Spain, Switzerland, Serbia, the United Kingdom and Czech Republic, yesterday announced they will cooperate with the tournament organizer to invite players to meet some lucky fans.

Nadal, winner of this year's French Open and Wimbledon titles, is from Spain. Federer, who holds the record for most majors with 16, is from Switzerland.

Other top 10 players may include Novak Djokovic of Serbia, Andy Murray of the UK, Sweden's Robin Soderling and Tomas Berdych from the Czech Republic.

All the players had expressed great interest in being ambassadors for their country at the Expo and talking with tennis fans, said Jiang Lan, secretary general of the Shanghai Masters organization committee.

Federer has said he would definitely appear at the Swiss Pavilion if time permitted, Jiang said.

However, Jiang added that players may not come to the Expo due to injury or elimination from the tournament.

About 100 tournament ticket buyers will be selected daily to visit each pavilion along with the players during the tournament, which runs from October 9-17. The organizer will ask local tennis fans' clubs to select the lucky fans or launch a lucky draw, Jiang said.

The pavilions were planning some activities so that visitors and the players could interact with one another, said Zoran Djordjevic, deputy commissioner general of the Serbia Pavilion. She declined to give more details since the activities were still being discussed.

"Tennis is a part of our nation's culture that we would like to share, so it is natural for the Swiss pavilion to cooperate with Shanghai Masters," said Manuel Salchli, director of the Switzerland Pavilion.

Ticket sales have been better for this year's tournament compared to last year since there will be more tourists in Shanghai because of the Expo, Jiang said.

Ticket sales were expected to exceed last year's 30 million yuan (US$44.1 million), he said.

The organizing committee has given 4,000 free tickets to tennis fans outside Shanghai, Jiang added.


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