American Express Co.'s presence at the U.S. Open tennis tournament will be felt more than ever this year.

The title sponsorship is one of Amex's prized marketing assets, and the company will be building on it in several new ways in the tournament that opens Saturday in Queens, N.Y..

A guest-services booth will be open during the games to help visitors- cardmembers and others-find their way around Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Staff will distribute free guides to New York and invite people to sign up for sightseeing tours.

Cardmembers will be able to eat at reserved tables in some of Manhattan's trendier restaurants, like Asia de Cuba and Cafe des Artistes.

Gold and platinum customers can buy U.S. Open tickets in advance and sit in special seats.

On opening day, tennis stars Andre Agassi, Venus Williams, MaliVai Washington, and Martina Hingis will participate in a serving contest on center court.

For each hit on target, American Express will donate $2,500 to the player's charity of choice. Bonus shots will net $10,000 apiece for the Arthur Ashe Foundation.

"We wanted to contribute to the Arthur Ashe legacy and help make the event exciting for kids and fans alike," said Derek Murphy, vice president of sponsorship marketing at American Express.

A children's version of the contest will be held on a peripheral court.

American Express, the exclusive card company sponsor, is promoting its participation everywhere from major newspapers to New York subway cars. Televised ads will run throughout the games on CBS television and the USA cable network.

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