26 Jun, 2009

Official Launching of “Malaysia Open 2009 ATP Tour 250”


YAB DATO SRI MOHD NAJIB BIN TUN HJ ABD RAZAK
PRIME MINISTER OF MALAYSIA
AT THE OFFICIAL LAUNCHING OF “MALAYSIA OPEN 2009 ATP TOUR 250”
26 JUNE 2009, 3.30 P.M.,MANDARIN ORIENTAL HOTEL,KUALA LUMPUR

YB. Dato’ Seri Utama Dr. Rais Yatim,
Minister of Information, Communication and Culture, Malaysia;

YB. Dato’ Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen,
Minister of Tourism, Malaysia;

YB. Tuan Wee Jeck Seng,
Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports;

Mr. Brad Drewett,
CEO, International Group, ATP World Tour;

Mr. Nick Freyer, Tournament Director,
Senior Vice President, IMG, Head of Tennis Asia;

Datuk Abdul Razak Latiff,
President of the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia;

Mr. Jonas Schuermann,
General Manager, Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur

1. It gives me great pleasure to be here today, to launch the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2009, an ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament. I am extremely delighted that this new event has found a permanent home in Kuala Lumpur, as it has been awarded to Malaysia by the ATP Board, after a very competitive bidding process. I would like to express deep thanks to the ATP World Tour and ATP Board for the confidence that they have placed in Malaysia.

2. This new tournament is one of only five ATP World Tour events to be staged in continental Asia and one of only 62 ATP World Tour tournaments that exist worldwide. I consider this as quite an honour for Malaysia in general and for Kuala Lumpur in particular.

3. The Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, like our FIA Formula 1 Grand Prix, will promote Malaysia internationally, whilst also being celebrated as an annual social and sporting event to be looked forward to every year by the citizens of Kuala Lumpur, as well as by visitors from hear and far. As a matter of fact this event may well be a strong pull factor for tennis fans in teh region to choose Malaysia as their destination, specifically to catch this segment of the ATP tour. At the same time, major international sporting events such as these, promote sport and a healthy, active lifestyle, which is so important to us all. In addition, it is certain to encourage more Malaysian to take up the sport seriously.

4. I am confident that this tournament will inspire many young Malaysians and it is certainly our hope that we will one day produce a player who will shine brightly among the global constellation of Tennis stars and perhaps even win the singles title at this ATP World Tour event.

Ladies and gentlemen,

5. The Malaysian Open Kuala Lumpur 2009 will be organised by IMG, the world leader in sports and lifestyle marketing, and tennis. I am pleased that IMG is continuing its investments in Malaysia. This tournament, as I have been informed will carry total prize money each year of USD 947,750 and will be played at the Putra Stadium at Bukit Jalil Sports Complex, with the practice courts and world-class training facilities located right next door at the National Sports Council Institute Training Halls. Having over 50 world-class athletes training side by side with Malaysia’s best athletes, will most certainly motivate our elite sportsmen and women further, and i am delighted that they are being given this kind of exposure.

6. I am pleased that many notable players have already confirmed their participation in the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur. World No. 8 Fernando Verdasco of Spain, who played one of the greatest matches in Australian Open history earlier this year, before narrowly losing to Rafael Nadal; the incredibly charismatic World No.10, Gael Monfils of France; World No. 11 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, who is also the Beijing Olympic silver medallist; and World No. 12 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile; World No. 13 David Ferrer of Spain; and Japanese teenage sensation Kei Nishikori. I also understand that this is only the start, and that there are more stars to come. The full field of players will be announced when the entry list is released by the ATP World Tour on August 19th, and I am sure that I join all Malaysians Tennis fans in looking forward to seeing that final list.

7. I would like to thank the many individuals, colleagues and government departments, some who are present and many who have made important contributions, but prefer to remain in the background, who have worked so hard to make today’s announcement a reality.

8. Our great appreciation extends to the ATP Tour Board and Brad Drewett for the support and trust they showed in us and to the team at the Putra Stadium and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for their contributions, the Ministries of Sport and Tourism, the National Sports Council and of course to the ATP World Tour players who have so readily accepted the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, as a tournament to play and be a part of.

9. I also would like to take this opportunity to extend our thanks to the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia for their solid support and for providing all the on-court officials, such as the lines-people and ball boys and ball girls. This is a tremendous boost for Malaysian tennis and I hope that you can take full advantage of it.

10. Thank you all for your support of the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, and I look forward to seeing the event grow into one of the finest of the ATP World Tour 250 tournaments.

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