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Discussion Starter #1
from Eurosport:

Australian Open could move

Growing player discontent and fierce temperatures in Australia in January could force the first grand slam of the tennis season to move to March. "Melbourne comes right at the start of the season. It's a highlight that comes too soon," said ITF President Francesco Ricci-Bitti.

Players complain the Australian Open starts too soon after their brief close season in December so players are ill-prepared for one of the most important tournaments of the year.

Ricci-Bitti said the ITF was talking to the ATP, which organises the men's tour, about moving a couple of U.S. tournaments to make way for a later Australian Open. "This way the players could gradually build up to the first highlight of the season," Die Welt quoted him as saying.

Agassi, a three-times Australian Open champion, said a later start would "give us more chance to relax in what you could call the off-season and it would allow for a better build-up and for better tennis at the Open".

Players currently finish the season early in December usually indoors in northern winter then, after three weeks, race to the blazing heat of the southern summer for two weeks of warm-up tournaments before the first grand slam starts.

Last year's runner-up Marat Safin said tennis players had the shortest holidays in sport. "In every other sport...they have time to recover, vacations with their families and time to prepare themselves for the next season," the Russian, ranked third in the world, said.

Former world number one Navratilova believes the Australian Open is downright dangerous. "It could take someone dying before things will change but I firmly believe the Australian Open should be put back a month until at least February," the American three-times former champion wrote in the Australian newspaper this week.


Reuters
 

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Discussion Starter #2
CALL TO PUSH BACK AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Agassi also threw his weight behind calls to push the Australian Open back in the year on Wednesday, saying it would enhance the quality of the season's first grand slam.

"From an ideal standpoint, everybody would be better served if it was pushed back in the year," he said. "It would give us (players) more chance to relax in what you could call the off-season and it would allow for a better build up and for better tennis at the Open. You get some pretty surprising results often because everybody is straight out of the blocks."

Former women's number one Martina Navratilova led calls for the grand slam to be put back a month to February to let the players have a longer Christmas break and avoid the hottest part of the Australian summer.

"It could take someone dying before things will change," she said in her column for The Australian newspaper.

Navratilova won the Australian Open three times but refused to play again after 1989 when it moved from the grass courts of Kooyong to the Rebound Ace at Melbourne Park even though she continued her career for another five years.

"I would have loved to have kept playing here (but) it's too hot in January," the 46-year-old said. "When you're playing a match and all you can think of is how to stay cool, trying to find any shade on court, that is no good for anybody."

Navratilova will nonetheless be returning this year, but in doubles, as she attempts to repeat last week's success in Gold Coast when teamed up with Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova to become the oldest circuit player, male or female, singles or doubles, to win a tournament.


Eurosport
FP & Reuters 08/01/2003
 

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well they're going to get a LOT less people coz it won't be school or uni holidays here...which means a lot less money but yeah the conditions in which the players have to play under are extremely difficult but i dont think they will end up pushing it back to march coz there'll lose too much money
 

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psychotic banana
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Other than the conditions the players have to play in, I think it is fine for AO to be held during January.
 

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There are other considerations too~~ Aussie Open Director Paul McNamee admitted that the tournament should be February ideally, however that would clash with other major sports around the world. For instance the US Super Bowl is in Feb isn't it? Also locally January is the best time because we all take our summer holidays at that time, also more International visitors~ trying to escape Northern Winter in Jan. In March there are a number of events ~ like the F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne & also football(Aus Rules) starts up again. Of course I'm no authority but I can think of a compromise: Aussie Open in late Jan->early Feb. It would only require minimal changes from the current situation but atleast give another week for players to prepare Down Under, without losing the mass crowds(Aus Open attracts more spectators than any other annual sports event- over 520,000 in 2002). Also they should make the Sydney tournament (Addidas International) a Masters Series event- every year it attracts 5-6 Top 10 players, so its not far of Masters quality already; just boost the field a bit & prizemoney(New Sponsor?) - a weeks break before Aus Open & you've got the perfect lead up. Also it would make the World Tennis Balance a little fairer because currently the 9 Masters Series are all in North America or Europe~ what about Asia/Aus: make the 'super 9' the 'super 10'!
 

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Super Bowl this year is on Jan 26th.

I'm surprised that Sydney is only a 35 point event. But then, making a jump to a TMS series required commitment from sponsors. A TMS event is about 2.5Million payout compared to 400K now in Sydney. Besides, a TMS right before Aussie Open, that's very taxing for players.

But I do agree that moving AO to Feb late Jan is good. It's tough to kind of open the season with a Grand Slam.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
ITF considers rescheduling Australian Open, Wimbledon

January 8, 2003

LONDON (Ticker) - International Tennis Federation president Francesco Ricci-Bitti on Wednesday unveiled plans to move the Australian Open to March.

In Wednesday's edition of the German newspaper Die Welt, Ricci-Bitti also suggested Wimbledon may be rescheduled from its traditional slot in June and July.

Players have complained frequently that the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam event of the season which starts on Monday, comes too soon after the winter hiatus and leaves them with too little time to properly prepare for such an important event.

"Melbourne comes right at the start of the season. It's a highlight that comes too soon," Ricci-Bitti told the newspaper. "That's why we are in talks with the ATP to move Indian Wells and Key Biscayne to February and the indoor tournaments in Europe could start the season in January."

Three-time Australian Open champion Andre Agassi said he thinks the Melbourne event should be contested three weeks later.

"I think there are a lot of surprise results here because of the fact that it's just right out of the blocks," the American said.

Ricci-Bitti also said that if a decision is made to move Wimbledon, it will not be executed before 2005.

Players have grumbled that Wimbledon, which is contested on the speedy grass courts of the All England Club, starts too soon after the French Open, which is played on the slow clay of Roland Garros. This season, Wimbledon begins June 23, just 15 days after the French Open concludes.
 

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Other slams aren't held in Holidays and they don't do badly

anyway Aussies always manage to sneak off work to get to sporting events somehow ;)

March will be good but the 6 month gap between US and AUS Opens will be too much for some, me included
 

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TheBoiledEgg said:
Other slams aren't held in Holidays and they don't do badly

anyway Aussies always manage to sneak off work to get to sporting events somehow ;)

March will be good but the 6 month gap between US and AUS Opens will be too much for some, me included

thats true that the other slams arent held in holidays but still they're still gonna get a lot less people. doesn't neone else think that that RG and wimby are too close together?? i reckon if they're thinking of changing the times of grand slams think about the gap between them two as well
 

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Wednesday, 8 January, 2003, 07:00 GMT

Agassi backs Open move



Andre Agassi has backed calls to move the Australian Open to later in the year.

The American believes the quality of the season's first Grand Slam tournament would be enhanced by a different time slot.

His comments follow those of tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who claimed players' lives are being put at risk in the January heat.

Agassi said: "From an ideal standpoint, everybody would be better served if it was pushed back in the year.

"It would give us (players) more chance to relax in what you could call the off-season and it would allow for a better build up and for better tennis at the Open.

"You get some pretty surprising results often because everybody is straight out of the blocks.

"But it doesn't take a genius to call the problem, it takes a genius to solve it. Many issues would have to be resolved."

However, Agassi, renowned for his physical fitness, rejected Navratilova's argument that it was too hot.

He said: "That is what I love about tennis - that is what makes it such a great sport - that you have two people out there who both have to deal with the circumstances."

Navratilova believes shifting the event, which starts next week, to February would both be safer and lead to higher standards of play.

"It could take someone dying before things will change," said the former world number one.

"But I firmly believe the Australian Open should be put back a month until at least February."

Navratilova won the Australian Open three times but refused to enter after 1989, even though she continued her career for another five years.

"I would have loved to have kept playing here (but) it's too hot in January," the 46-year-old said.

"We've had people on IV treatment after matches recovering from extreme heat exhaustion," she wrote in The Australian newspaper.

"When you're playing a match and all you can think of is how to stay cool, trying to find any shade on court, that is no good for anybody."

Last year's women's finalists Martina Hingis and Jennifer Capriati were in obvious distress as the temperature rose to a peak of 46C.

The intense heat forced a 10-minute break during which both players lay in beds of ice to cool down.

"That match showed how ridiculous it can get out there," Navratilova said.

This year's Australian Open, starting on 13 January, has already suffered from the withdrawal of some of the world's top players.

Neither past winners Pete Sampras and Hingis nor reigning champion Thomas Johansson will compete.

bbc online
 

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Roland Garros at end of May isn't warm enough
Wimbledon should be 2 weeks later
but that would seriously eat into the US tourns
and i don't think they will accept that.
 

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Push for change to Australian Open timing gains momentum

Associated Press
Jan. 8, 2003 10:49 p.m.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)—

Complaints from players about a lack of rest between seasons and the extreme heat of the Australian summer have prompted organizers of the season-opening tennis Grand Slam to consider rescheduling.

Tennis Australia President Geoff Pollard said a change had been discussed, but several possible impediments would have to be overcome before switching the tournament dates.

International Tennis Federation president Francesco Ricci-Bitti told a German newspaper that the sport's governing body was negotiating with the men's tour with a view to push the Australian Open back from the last two weeks of January and into March.

"It's logical that we're too early and the end of the season is too late," Pollard told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Thursday. "This has been on the agenda for a while, but there is no clear and obvious solution.

"We wouldn't move unless we were sure that players would support an Australian circuit."

Former women's No. 1 Martina Navratilova, who won 18 singles Grand Slam titles, sparked the latest push for a calendar overhaul earlier in the week, writing in her newspaper column that it shouldn't take serious injuries to players to force a change of dates.

Marat Safin, a former U.S. Open champion and finalist at the Australian Open last year, complained that there wasn't enough time between seasons. A host of other top professionals, including three-time Australian champion Andre Agassi, backed calls by the world No. 3 for a longer off-season.

The players were also wanting more time between the French Open and Wimbledon to allow players time to prepare for the grass season at the end of their clay-court campaigns.

Pollard agreed it wasn't just the Australian Open that would need to be rescheduled in an overhaul.

"Everyone also knows that the French and Wimbledon are too close together and there are a lot of events in the autumn after the end of the US Open," he said.

Australian organizers were concerned that warmup tournaments in Australia would not be as well supported by players if the first major of the year was pushed back. Crowd numbers could also be effected by shifting the Australian Open from its traditional time in the summer holidays.

(jp)
 

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AO in March...FO/RG in May...Wimby in July...USO in Sep. Two months apart shouldn't be too bad...just some reshuffling of other tourneys. *shrugs*
 

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Reshuffling the tournaments will be hard, cause that might mean the end of some tournaments. If AO will be held in February it means the tournaments in February will go to January and not much players will go to the european indoor season in January. Since a lot of players complain about the off season being too short, these tournaments will have difficulties attracting topplayers and that has it's affect on sponsor deals, etc.
 

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Well, like everything it has many positive and negative things.

I agree with the fact of the hot, that sometimes can be very very dangerous(ie. Women's Final 2002). But here's where I disagree because I have heard, just heard, that's why I'm not sure, that there's not too much difference between the temperature of January and March's one....so why to change it if it's gonna be the same anyway?

I also agree also with that statement that Australian Open is like too close, you know, a BIG tournament so fast? Just 2 weeks from your off-season! Come on, I think the tennis players actually don't have even a month to rest in peace, because they must be "resting" but also training hard because they know they'll have to deal with a Grand Slam almost at the start of the year.....and that's not a "vacation".

About the other tournaments as Wimbledon, or Roland Garros....well, I don't know, the only thing I firmly support is that there should be at least a month of difference between them; there's a "considerable" difference between the 2 surfaces.

I think there should be an equitative difference between Grand Slams. Because from the AO to RG there are like more than 4 months of difference, meanwhile RG and Wimbledon are just 2 weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
another from Eurosport:

Melbourne ponders switch

The first grand slam of the season could be shifted from its January slot to March to appease players' complaints about searing heat and insufficient warm-up events, Australia's tennis chief confirmed on Thursday.

But any shift of the Australian Open would have manifold repercussions on the tennis -- and Australian sporting -- calendar, Tennis Australia President Geoff Pollard warned.

"This has been on the agenda for a while but there is no clear and obvious solution," Pollard said. "It is logical that we are too early (in the year) and that the end of the season is too late. (But) if we want to fix something it has got to be everything.

"We wouldn't move unless we were sure that the players would support an Australian circuit in February," Pollard said on Melbourne radio.

Tennis Australia could be almost certain of players' support for a switch as Pollard was responding to complaints from the sport's elite that the first grand slam of the year starts too soon after their brief close season in December.

DOWNRIGHT DANGEROUS

Leading players are lobbying for a switch, complaining they are ill-prepared for one of the most important tournaments of the year -- there are just two weeks of ATP and WTA tournaments before the Open.

Andre Agassi, world number two and one of the best known faces in world sport, has thrown his weight behind a shift.

"From an ideal standpoint, everybody would be better served if it was pushed back in the year," he said at the Open warm-up event in Kooyong. "It would give us (players) more chance to relax in what you could call the off-season and it would allow for a better build up and for better tennis at the Open.

"You get some pretty surprising results often because everybody is straight out of the blocks," he added.

Former women's world number one Martina Navratilova believes playing the Australian Open in on-court temperatures which can top 45 degrees Celsius is downright dangerous.

"It could take someone dying before things will change but I firmly believe the Australian Open should be put back a month until at least February," the American three-times former champion wrote in the Australian newspaper this week.

WREAK HAVOC

International Tennis Federation (ITF) President Francesco Ricci-Bitti fanned the flames of change on Wednesday when he said his organisation was talking to the ATP, which organises the men's tour, about moving a couple of U.S. tournaments to make way for a later Australian Open.

Tournaments in the U.S. in February and early March which could be candidates for a switch include those in Memphis, Delray Beach and Scottsdale.

Two U.S. Masters Series tournaments also feature in the March schedule -- Indian Wells from March 10-16 this year and Miami from March 17-30.

Despite Ricc-Bitti's comments, Tennis Australia made it clear on Thursday that any change in the dates of the grand slam would be a decision for the tournament alone to make, not the ITF nor the ATP. "We are happy with the current situation but we are not closed to new ideas," a spokesman told Reuters.

"We are aware of the (current) complications. People can come to us with their ideas and their representations and we can discuss them with our major stakeholders."

But while a new-look Australian autumn of tennis would help players prepare for Melbourne Park, it would wreak havoc with the city's sporting calendar.

A March date would leave the Open in danger of clashing with the Formula One Grand Prix and the lead-up to the AFL season. "We must address local interests in Melbourne with the F1 Grand Prix in March and the Commonwealth Games in 2006," Pollard cautioned.


Reuters
09/01/2003
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Well color me shocked :rolleyes:


Australian Open to stay in January

January 10, 2003

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- The Australian Open will stick to its January slot for at least the next several years.

International Tennis Federation president Francesco Ricci-Bitti said earlier this week the sport's governing body had been negotiating with the men's tour to see if in the future the season-opening major could be delayed until March.

Tournament director Paul McNamee said Friday he is willing to consider a change but only as part of an overhaul of the entire tennis calendar.

He said the earliest realistic time to change would be in 2007, after Melbourne held the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Many players support a switch, which would give them extra time off between seasons and a reprieve from the extreme heat of the Australian summer.

Tennis Australia chairman Geoff Pollard said any switch would have to be decided on by the Australian Open organizers and not the ITF or the men's or women's tours.

McNamee stressed that such a move would have to be part of larger changes.

``If the sport really had a will to have a clean sheet of paper to get it right, we're not going to be intransigent about it,'' he said. ``We're going to be in January, where we are, for the next few years, there's no question about that. Any (change) we are talking about is way, way off in the future.''

McNamee said consideration also must be given to protecting the Australian summer circuit, which includes tournaments in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Perth.

The Australian Open is held in the last two weeks of January, during the school summer vacation.

Wimbledon is prepared to move its tournament back a week if tennis officials decide to change the tennis schedule.

Wimbledon officials have long favored extending the time between the French Open from two weeks to three, a move being investigated by the International Tennis Federation.

All England Club chief executive Chris Gorringe said Friday a change could not happen before 2005.

Spokesman Johnny Perkins said Wimbledon officials have been lobbying to move the two-week tournament back a week. He said the plan now has momentum with the ITF and the WTA and ATP tours.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Shift of Open unthinkable

Any imminent shift of the Australian Open from January to March would be "unthinkable", the tournament's chief executive Paul McNamee said on Friday.

Despite players lobbying for a change in the tennis calendar and their complaints about searing Australian midsummer heat and insufficient warm-up events for the opening grand slam of the season, McNamee insisted there would be no change in the calendar until 2007 at the very earliest.

"We are very happy where we are," he told Reuters at Melbourne Park. "That is not to say that if we started with a blank piece of paper we would not hold the tournament later in the year.

"But let's just say we are going to be in January where we are for the next few years – there's no question about that.

"It is unthinkable for a structural change (in the tennis calendar) of that scale to happen in the next few years.

"Anything we are talking about is way, way off in the future, let's be clear about that. There are massive commercial ramifications."

McNamee did agree, however, that the issue was one which needed to be examined after leading players called for a change in the calendar earlier in the week.

Players including Andre Agassi and Marat Safin led complaints that competitors were often ill-prepared for one of the most important tournaments of the year -- there are just two weeks of ATP and WTA tournaments before the Open.

Agassi said: "From an ideal standpoint, everybody would be better served if it was pushed back in the year.

"It would give us (players) more chance to relax in what you could call the off-season and it would allow for a better build up and for better tennis at the Open."

MAJOR HEADACHE

Former women's world number one Martina Navratilova believes playing the Open in on-court temperatures which can top 45 degrees Celsius is downright dangerous.

McNamee said: "I've got a certain sympathy for these comments.

"If the sport really had a will to start again with a blank piece of paper we are not going to be intransigent about it.

"But it is not just us moving... it is all the other tournaments. I want to put this in perspective."

McNamee said the Australian Open would not move unless the current warm-up events in Australia -- Adelaide, Sydney, the Gold Coast, Canberra and Hobart -- were protected.

"We are a family this four weeks of tennis in Australia -- if there is any chance of a change of dates then we are all moving together."

That alone would create a major headache for the sport's administrators.

International Tennis Federation president Francesco Ricci- Bitti said earlier in the week that his organisation was talking to the ATP, which organises the men's tour, about moving a couple of U.S. tournaments to make way for a later Australian Open.

That would suggest some U.S. hardcourt tournaments would also become viable warm-up events for the Open -- something that would hurt the Australian tournaments.

While a new-look Australian autumn of tennis would help players prepare for Melbourne Park, it would, however, wreak havoc with the city's sporting calendar.

A March date would leave the Open in danger of clashing with the Formula One Grand Prix and the lead-up to the AFL season.

McNamee added: "The Commonwealth Games are here in 2006 there's no way at all anything could happen before then."


Reuters
 
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