Auckland gets Sharapova for "reasonable" fee
Auckland tournament director Richard Palmer says Maria Sharapova did not demand an outsize appearance fee to play at the January tournament, which serves as a warmup for the Australian Open.
Sharapova normally plays a lucrative exhibition event in Hong Kong as her only event before the Australian Open, but a first-round loss in Melbourne at the beginning of this year may have prompted a change in schedule.
"Her agent telephoned to say she was interested in playing Auckland, and to ask, were we interested—silly question," Palmer told the New Zealand press. "There was an asking rate and it was fair and reasonable, given who she is and our limited resources, and it was all tied up in just over two weeks—a lot less stressful than some of these things, which can take months."
But Palmer did say that the extra costs required him to cut his marketing budget for the tournament and request additional money from the title sponsor.
Organizers also reported a rise in ticket enquiries since the announcement, especially for corporate boxes.
Brisbane tournament director Steve Ayles recently speculated the tournament could receive government funds to try to get Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal in 2012.
"Federer and Nadal are both contracted to Doha for three years and as I understand it, those contracts finish after this upcoming event," Ayles said. "There's an opportunity now to have a real crack at them... There's no question, with the right help, it can happen and it's something we'll look at very seriously for the future."