October 7, 2014 / 3:38 AM / 4 years ago

Australian Open lifts prize money 10 percent

Matthew Ebden of Australia serves to Kei Nishikori of Japan during their men's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 19, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The Australian Open will hike total prize money 10 percent in 2014 to A$36 million ($31.44 million), organizers said on Tuesday.

The Australian dollar has retreated by over six percent against the U.S dollar over the past month, but the 2015 prize pool is still competitive against last year’s A$33 million, which was worth about $29 million when Stan Wawrinka and Li Na clinched the men’s and women’s singles titles.

Organizers also launched the newly renovated Margaret Court Arena, which will provide a third covered show court after Rod Laver Arena’s center court and the Hisense Arena.

Australian Court, who holds the women’s record of 24 grand slam singles titles, had a hit with local men’s talent Nick Kyrgios in the refurbished 7,500 seat stadium as part of the launch.

“I think it’s absolutely beautiful,” the 72-year-old told reporters. “Wouldn’t have minded something to play on like this in my day.”

Organizers have also snapped up former world number one and the 2009 champion Rafa Nadal as an ambassador.

The Spaniard will work with Tennis Australia to hold a charity event on Jan. 14 at Margaret Court Arena in the leadup to the tournament.

“I like to think I’ve always been friendly with the Australian Open, but I’m excited it is now official,” Nadal said in a Tennis Australia media release.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Patrick Johnston

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