V. Williams, Gonzalez and Nalbandian Granted Sony Ericsson Open Wildcards

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Updated: February 24, 2012

MIAMI, Fla. (www.sonyericssonopen.com) – The 2012 Sony Ericsson Open announced it has extended main draw wildcards to seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, former world No. 5 Chilean Fernando Gonzalez and former world No. 3 David Nalbandian from Argentina.

The women’s main draw begins on Tuesday, March 20, while the men’s main draw kicks off the following day on Wednesday, March 21. The qualifying rounds will be held Monday and Tuesday, March 19 and 20.

Tickets to the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open are on sale now and can be purchased by phone (305-442-3367) or via internet atwww.sonyrricssonopen.com. An electrifying two weeks of tennis conclude with the women’s final on Saturday, March 31 and the men’s final on Sunday, April 1.

Williams plans to make her 2012 debut in Miami, hoping to regain the form that saw her claim three Sony Ericsson Open titles (2001, 1999, 1998). She last appeared on the purple courts in 2010 where she played her way into the final. The seven-time Grand Slam champ has battled through injuries and illnesses this past year, and has not played since the US Open in August.

“I am looking forward to my return to competitive tennis at the Sony Ericsson Open,” said Williams. “I have spent most of my life in Southern Florida and view the Sony Ericsson Open as a hometown event. I have had many great experiences playing there and look forward to returning in the coming weeks.”

Gonzalez, a winner of 11 career ATP World Tour Titles, made his professional debut in 1999. In 2007, Gonzalez attained a career high No. 5 ranking after reaching the Australian Open final, in which he posted wins over Lleyton Hewitt and Rafael Nadal. He has also had success on the Olympic stage, receiving a bronze medal in singles and gold in doubles with Nicolas Massu at the 2004 Athens games, and a silver medal during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Gonzalez has announced his plans to retire at the conclusion of this year’s Sony Ericsson Open.

“I am very excited to play the Sony Ericsson Open this year,” said Gonzalez. “Miami has a lot of special meaning to me, it is one of my favorite tournaments. As a child I was a huge fan and I used to love to come and watch the players compete. I chose Miami as my last tournament to play before I retire because I love the atmosphere the Chilean and Latin American fans create when I play. It is something truly special that I will always hold dear to me.”

Nalbandian, who made his professional debut in 2000, has a career record of 360-172 and has won 11 career ATP World Tour titles. In 2010, Nalbandian recorded a career best 11 match-winning streak and during that span he defeated six Top 25 opponents including former No. 5 Robin Soderling and No. 6 Nikolay Davydenko. In 2011 Nalbandian helped lead Argentina into the Davis Cup final with a singles win over Viktor Troicki in the semi-finals. Nalbandian went on a six-year title winning streak from 2004-2010.

“I’m very happy to play the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open,” said Nalbandian. “Miami has always been one of my favorite tournaments in the tour, so I cannot wait to be in Key Biscayne in March.”

ABOUT THE SONY ERICSSON OPEN: The 2012 Sony Ericsson Open will be played March 19-April 1 at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park in Miami. The two-week combined event, founded by Butch Buchholz in 1985, is owned and operated by IMG. The Sony Ericsson Open is one of nine ATP Masters 1000 Series events on the ATP calendar, a Premier Mandatory event on the WTA calendar, and features the top men’s and women’s tennis players in the world. In 2011 Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal for his second Sony Ericsson Open title, while Victoria Azarenka knocked off Maria Sharapova to capture her second title in Miami. For ticket information, call (305) 442-3367 or visit the website at www.SonyEricssonOpen.com.

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