Australian Open organisers expect all of the world’s top 100 men and women to play in January’s tennis grand slam, chasing a record prizemoney pool of $33 million.
Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley, who is also the Open’s tournament director, said it would be a boost to have reigning US and French Open champion Rafael Nadal back, after he missed this year’s event through illness and injury.
Nadal could next week regain the No.1 ranking from Novak Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open for the past three years.
“We’re very pleased as things stand today that we’re expecting all the top 100 men and all the top 100 women,” Tiley said at Wednesday’s launch of the 2014 tournament.
“It’s great, we’ve got our defending champions Novak and Victoria (Azarenka) and having them back, they’ve done extremely well here.
“Novak’s dominated this event over the past five years.
“But Nadal missed it last year. Having Rafa back, he’s excited and wants to come back and play.”
Prizemoney increases from $30 million last year.
US greats and former Open champions Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras will attend as guests, with Sampras to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first of his two Australian Open titles.
But Tiley confirmed Bernard Tomic’s father John, still serving a 12-month ban from the tour, after being found guilty of assaulting his son’s then-hitting partner Thomas Drouet in Madrid in May, won’t be allowed inside Melbourne Park.
Tiley said the Australian Open and lead-up events were obligated to abide by the ban, but they remained supportive of the Tomic family.
“We talk to them,” he said.
“He’s Australian and at the end of the day it’s about Bernard and it’s about his opportunity.
“He played Davis Cup for us and did a great job.
“It’s unfortunate, the situation, but it is what it is, the ruling, and we uphold that.”
Tiley said Tomic Sr wouldn’t be given dispensation to attend, even if his son made it deep into the event.
Melbourne Park’s third main showcase court, Margaret Court Arena, will be in use, but a retractable roof being built over it remains under construction and will stay open throughout the event.