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Article: WTA to shorten season
WTA to Shorten Season
The WTA Tour will shorten its season in the next few years, according to several sources. Injuries have wrecked havoc on the WTA Tour and CEO Larry Scott believes that players need a longer break with the shift to power tennis.
Starting in 2006, the WTA will revamp the fall circuit. The indoor season will now begin right after the US Open final and will start with the The Advtanta Championships in Philadelphia. The tournament will be followed by Linz, Moscow, Zurich, Filderstadt and the WTA Championships which will now be permantly held in Antwerp, Belgium.
Meanwhile, the WTA will also revamp the post-Australian Open circuit. The Tokyo tournament will be followed by a new Tier 2 indoor event in Beijing, China, creating a strong Asian circuit after the year's first Grand Slam.
Finally, the Fed Cup will be revamped and held as a one week tournament, which will be held two weeks after Wimbledon. The site for Fed Cup will rotate annually. Scott believes these changes are all healthy for the women's game.
"I think this newly revamped season will be perfect for all the players. With only six weeks of tournaments after the US Open, I think the players will have much more time to rest. It should also increase the quality of the fields at these tournaments."
In an attempt to make sure that players take full advantage of the longer season, The WTA will penalize anyone who plays in an offseason exhibition. A player who plays one exo will be fine $25,000 and will be suspended for one month. Anyone who plays more than one exo will be fine an additional $50,000 and will be suspended a month for each exo they play.
Three time major winner Lindsay Davenport thinks the new changes will benefit the tour, "I think the schedule makes a lot more sense. It's nice to have a tier 2 event so close to New York right after the US Open. And I like the idea of changing the Fed Cup around. Having an extra few weeks at the end of the year will really be beneficial to the players."
Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi, however, is outraged at the new schedule. "I like the season the way it is. It's not that long. The players just need to be wise with their schedules."
Serena Williams believes the season is still too long. "Come on, the season is still a good 42 weeks long. That's still too long for me. I think the off-season should be four or five months."
While it will be impossible to please everyone, the new WTA schedule will certainly give players more time to relax before the start of the season.