Tennis preparations taking shape for Rio

International Tennis Federation (ITF) executive vice president Juan Margets says preparations for the Rio Olympic tennis tournament are progressing to the extent he can virtually visualise the event.

Rio de Janeiro: International Tennis Federation (ITF) executive vice president Juan Margets says preparations for the Rio Olympic tennis tournament are progressing to the extent he can virtually visualise the event.

"You see pictures and plans -- but when you actually experience the venue it`s unique and to tell the truth we are excited and optimistic," he said.

"The centre court is coming to fruition and you start to imagine how the tennis Olympic stadium will look," Margets, a one-time Spanish youth champion, told AFP in an interview.

Tennis was on the programme for the first modern Olympiad in Athens in 1886.

It was dropped in 1928 but returned at the Seoul Games in 1988.

Rio is set to host a number of top names including London 2010 champion Andy Murray, as well as the likes of world number one Novak Djokovic, clay king Rafael Nadal and legend Roger Federer.

The Rio tournament will take place out in the Olympic city taking shape in the western suburb of Barra de Tijuca, with the 164.8 million reais ($70 million, 54.5 million euros) venue officially set to be ready by the third quarter of next year, overcoming early delays.

Margets said he could not deny that there were early concerns at the pace of construction.

"But yesterday`s visit confirmed things are on the move. We are satisfied with how it is coming along."

ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said in April that progress was "a little disappointing" but organisers played down fears the venue would not be ready.

Margets, who heads the Davis Cup committee, insists that "concern was always minimal" regarding the venue, whose centre court will hold 10,000 people. Another court will hold 3,000 seats while there will be an additional court with a temporary capacity for 5,000 fans.

The tennis complex will comprise seven further courts each with a capacity for 250 people and there will also be six warm-up and training courts.

The stadium will be able to host an ATP 1000 event; Rio currently hosts an ATP World Tour 500 event.

Early delays meant an ITF test event had to be put back from August next year to December.

Margets says that "in an ideal world we would have liked to have a test event in the same week as the Olympic Games with two fields of 64 players but we are very mindful of the fact this is not realistic."

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