Australian Open to start a week later in 2007
Tue 6 April, 2004 07:17
By Greg Buckle
MELBOURNE, April 6 (Reuters) - The first grand slam tournament of the season will start a week later in January 2007, Australian Open chief executive Paul McNamee said on Tuesday.
Australian Open officials have reacted to pressure from an international calendar working group by agreeing to start the 2007 tournament on January 22 but have ruled out a move to March.
The tournament's dates for the next three years are January 17-30 in 2005, January 16-29 in 2006 and January 22-February 4 the following year.
The move would give players an extra week's break in the off-season, McNamee told a news conference.
However, McNamee added he was also keen to see the season end a week earlier from 2006 onwards.
"It's been quite a long review process but we're pleased to have been able to bring certainty to our future dates," McNamee said.
Tennis Australia president Geoff Pollard added: "This slightly later start (in 2007) will give the players the option to enjoy the Christmas/new year period at home and ensures that the Australian summer circuit will avoid starting over the new year period which has traditionally caused difficulties for the lead-in tournaments."
The Hopman Cup international mixed teams event in Perth, Western Australia, will be pushed back a week from its traditional new year starting date as part of the changes, Pollard said.
McNamee said Australian officials were keen to see the Davis Cup finish earlier in the year to help turn a six-week break into eight weeks.
"We've taken the first step to creating a longer off-season," McNamee said. "We're going to be the ones giving the push now on the year-end.
"You could see two weeks longer in the off-season in the 2006-07 year."
McNamee said the later starting date would come into effect in 2007 rather than 2006 partly because of a desire to shield the Melbourne Commonwealth Games from scheduling and ticket sales concerns. The Vodafone Arena tennis stadium is a venue for the cycling at the March 2006 Games.
Australian Formula One Grand Prix officials were also pleased the Australian Open had taken a move to March "off the agenda", McNamee said. The season-opening GP race is held each March in Melbourne.