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Tennis | WTA

Li Na © Reuters

China boost as Japan loses Tokyo event



The hometown of China's former French Open champion Li Na was on Wednesday named as the host of a new £2 million tournament in 2014 which will replace the 30-year-old Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

Wuhan will stage the event in the week prior to the China Open in Beijing and will feature at least seven of the year-end top 10-ranked players.

The deal is a huge blow for Tokyo where the Pan Pacific will stage its 30th and final event later this year.

Kuala Lumpur's event will be relocated to Hong Kong two weeks before the Wuhan tournament in 2014.

Meanwhile, for the first time in its 40-year history, the WTA will also host three International events in South America during the 2014 season.

In addition to the event in Bogota, and Florianopolis, Brazil, which will hold its inaugural event in 2013, an International event will be relocated from Memphis to Rio de Janeiro.

"We are excited by the growth of women's professional tennis, particularly in key markets like China and Brazil," said Stacey Allaster, the chief executive of the WTA.

"Development in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) markets, led by China, has been a strategic priority for the past several years. We look forward to continued strengthening of our global brand, developing our sport, and building our fan base worldwide."

With the addition of Shenzhen in 2013, and Hong Kong and Wuhan in 2014, there will be a record 16 tournaments within the Asia-Pacific region in 2013, and 18 events are scheduled for 2014.

The WTA also announced on Wednesday that prize money in 2013 will increase 10 percent overall from $53.3 million in 2012 to $58.7 million this year (not including the Grand Slams).

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