It seems they're grumpy about not being able to buy the Australian Open. I think there should be more ATP/Challenger events in Asia, but they should be open to EVERYONE. Some of the demands being made (like reserving half of the places at Asian atp events for Asians) are just silly.
DOHA, Feb 21, 2008 (AFP) - Asia has broken away from its agreement with Tennis Australia to begin its own independent circuit, while criticising the failure of the sport's governing bodies to develop the sport in the region.
Without Asia going its own way it will be impossible for its young players to make the progress they should in the international game, according to Anil Khanna, the chief executive of the Asian Tennis Federation.
The ATF's solution, which involves Asia running its own tour for the benefit of Asians and doing its own television deals, has implications for the Australian Open, which has hitherto always been known as the Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific.
Young Asian players will no longer go to Melbourne as part of their reward for doing well, but have other rewards, including going instead to the season ending WTA Championships in Qatar in November.
"It's a concern how Asian players can make a living from matches to get an ATP ranking: tennis in Asia is not progressing so well," said Khanna.
"And while women's tennis is doing well we only have one male player in the top 100.
"To do something better for the players in Asia and for a huge number of children taking up tennis as a sport we are particularly keen to achieve our goal to give them financial benefits and motivation.
"We need an Asian ranking system, because tennis is an identity driven sport, and we are forming an organisation called the Asian tennis tour which will be under the chairmanship of Sheikh Mohammed."
The Asian tour, which will be for under-14 players only for the time being, began whilst retaining its links with Australia last year with a tournament in Thailand for eight Asian players and with prize money of 100,000 dollars.
It is not yet known where this year's larger, independent affair will travel to but it will have a circuit-ending Masters with prize money of 300,000 dollars plus hospitality for eight Asia-based players.
Qatar will host this immediately after the WTA (season-end) championships in Doha.
Ayman Azmy, the tournament director of the lucrative Qatar Open men's and women's tournaments in Doha, said: "We will have an Asian tour, and we are here to stay, and we have a point to make."
The Asian Tennis Federation is also planning more challenger events with 150,000 dollars prize money on the ATP Tour.
"The aim is for a longer calendar by 2009 which will create more possibilities for Asian players to earn money and create a more level playing field for them," said Khanna.
"We are in dialogue with the ATP, requesting from them a larger number of Asian players in Asian challenger tournaments. We are very hopeful that seeing the genuineness of our concern there will be a larger number of Asians in Asian challengers.
"It's not so easy for Asian players to travel so far. It's easier from other parts of the world to be travelling and get points, so it is necessary to have more challengers in this region. So I hope the ATP will help , though as yet it has not yet responded positively."
Khanna claimed there was an "anomaly in tennis". Whilst there are apparently profits of 800 million dollars from the four Grand Slams and ATP and WTA events the amount given to the development of world wide tennis "is not even worth mentioning".
All four Grand Slams spend money on their own development and individual promoters on both the men's and women's tours keep their own profits for themselves.
This fragmented market-dominated outcome is the inevitable result of the men's and women's tours having separated from the International Tennis Federation, more than three decades ago.
It means the ITF is unlike FIFA, which gives large sums to footballing nations or the ICC, which develops cricket.
"Unfortunately in tennis money available to development is very limited, and only left to the ITF to bring in a small amount - three million dollars for the entire world," claimed Khanna.
"So the profits from tennis tournaments should be given by owners of tennis tournaments to develop the sport. This is what we are wanting to correct. We need to create a fund for the development of tennis in Asia.
"And what better way than by creating another tour, and own TV deals, and overseeing our own development programme and under-14 tour. We are putting things right by becoming independent of Tennis Australia."