It's the love of the game. Paul Flory enjoys watching tennis, good tennis. The result is great tennis in Cincinnati: Western & Southern Financial Group Masters & Women's Open.

Federer, Clijsters, Petrova, Nadal. Every August, the annual world-class tournament brings tennis greats and thousands of fans to the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.

The Women's Open is Aug. 9-15 and the men's competition Aug. 16-22. All the details are at Flory, in his 36th year with the tournament, is chairman. His son, Bruce, is in his 12th year as director.

Every weekday, the 88-year-old Flory heads from his home at Hyde Park's Deupree Center to his corner office on Fifth Street downtown to work on the tournament. On a sunny spring morning, he takes time to talk tennis. He points out details on an architect's rendering. The tennis center is getting an upgrade to the tune of $10 million. Work is ahead of schedule, and Flory assures it will be ready for fans and the tournament. He smiles often and asks as many questions as he answers. He speaks with warm affection for fans, players and the game.

So, Cincy just had to ask:

Will Roger Federer repeat?

"Odds are good. He's a fine player. I have to say though you really never know. There are always upsets. That said, he has a great game, great serve, great forward stroke. Only way to find out is to come out and see for yourself."

What is the biggest surprise we can expect at the Masters & Women's Open this year?

"The upgrade. It's great. The trusses are up on the west building. The roof isn't up yet but we are still ahead of schedule. The fans will enjoy the new building. It's a sign of progress, change and growth. They'll be looking forward to seeing this, and we'll have more seats."

You became involved because you play tennis.

"I'm not a big deal player but I enjoy it. I love to watch players with a high skill level. They have to be well-rounded athletes now. That's why someone like Federer tends to do so well."

Since 1974, the tournament has given more than $7.7 million to local charities ($7 million to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center). What is the most rewarding part of the legacy you are building?

"Over $10 million if you include Children's Hospital, if you include breast cancer, if you include support for youth tennis clubs. These are three wonderful causes.

"The most rewarding part is satisfied and happy fans and to know the players enjoy coming to Cincinnati. If you haven't made the fans happy, if you haven't made the players happy, you are not going to have a good tournament. Over the years we've done very well on that score. The changes (with the building project) are good for the fans, good for the players, good for the title sponsor. "

What is the biggest change you've seen in the crowd? In the players?

"We get a lot of celebrities. You never know who is going to be there (in the crowd).

"As you know, we have great players. Both men and women. For personalities you can go back to the days of Jimmy Conners and John McEnroe "” always an exciting two players and the fans were always in store for good competition. It's very competitive; no player has an easy ride to the championship. It's always very competitive. That's what the fans love. They love to go court to court and see who is playing, who is practicing.

"Roger Federer is fantastic. Players like to see the stands full. They like to play before a crowd. You know, ticket sales are running ahead of last year. The stars are coming in and we have a new facility."

You gave Pete Sampras a cake on his 28th birthday at the 1999 tournament. Did you ever expect he would retire before you?

(A laugh, a smile.) I retired. I retired from P&G after 40 years.