Tennis chiefs fear income tax will deter world stars

*By Barry Newcombe

The Lawn Tennis Writers Association is to present its 2011 international award to Novak Djokovic of Serbia at the O2 Arena today during the ATP finals. Djokovic won Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon, Australia and the US Open as he surged to world No1 status.

Djokovic will be unable to to attend the tennis writers annual lunch next month. LTWA chairman Barry Millns will make the presentation.

Andy Murray had barely left the O2 Arena with his injury problems when the LTA called the tennis hacks into a briefing about Britains No1 player and how next year in British tennis is shaping up.

Murray is now heading for some rest and recovery from his groin strain before some pre-season training in Florida, though there is just a chance that he will be at the LTWA lunch next month.

At the briefing this week, we learned that the LTA is driving on with its programme to attract young players. They will be looking at 100,000-plus in mini tennis programmes in 2012.

More worrying for the LTA is the threat that top earning overseas players will have their global endorsements taxed by HMRC should they even visit Britain for just a fortnight-long tennis tournament, the fear being that the worlds top players will in future avoid Wimbledon and other events in this country.

LTA boss Roger Draper said: The key issue willl be the Budget Statement in March, the most senior people in Government are taking this very serously.