Daily Telegraph: London
Wimbledon is in line for a switch of dates
By John Parsons (Filed: 09/07/2002)
The extraordinary rash of seeding upsets at Wimbledon this year, when only 12 of the 32 seeds for the men's singles survived to the third round, may well revitalise efforts to provide a third week of grasscourt preparation between the French Open and The Championships.
While acknowledging that the increasing depth of quality in men's tennis was also a rewarding factor, at least one source close to the Grand Slam committee feels that the oft-discussed extra time for players to have match practice on grass is now overdue.
Seeding upsets are, to some extent, the lifeblood of the Grand Slams. The emergence, seemingly from nowhere, of Argentina's immensely personable David Nalbandian was an enormous boost for all those claycourt players who sometimes feel modest about their prospects on grass.
At the same time the regular defeat of too many top names could, in the long run, have a negative impact on crowds and, even more importantly from a commercial point of view, the attitude of some television companies.
Not that Wimbledon suffered any lack of support through the turnstiles or from BBC television this year.
The attendance of 469,514 was the second highest on record, while BBC viewing figures showed an increase of 22 per cent on the previous year.
Tim Phillips, chairman of the All England Club, reported that "more people watched the Tim Henman-Michel Kratochvil match in the fourth round than BBC's coverage of the World Cup final".
For some years the club have indicated they would be willing to give serious consideration to starting the tournament a week later - though only if the players, who are forever complaining that two weeks is not enough time to acclimatise from the clay in Paris, officially made it clear that was what they wanted.
That has not so far been the case, mainly, it seems, because American and South American players do not want to add another week on to the 11 many of them can already be away from home from mid-April.
It was also thought unlikely that the United States Tennis Association would welcome losing a week of their summer season leading into the US Open in New York.
On the other hand, with an increasing number of top and mid-range American players tending to fly home for a week after Paris, a fresh idea has started circulating.
The suggestion is that the grasscourt event in Newport, Rhode Island, which has traditionally been played in the week after Wimbledon, should be brought forward to the week immediately after the French.
That would not only maintain the tournament weeks of tennis in the United States but provide American players with a more worthwhile week of matchplay on grass and make it possible for Wimbledon to be pushed forward a week. If this gains enough support, it might even happen by 2005.
from BBC Online
Wimbledon could shift to a week later in the calendar in order to give players more time to practice on grass, according to a report.
Players have long complained that the two-week break between the French Open and Wimbledon does not give them enough time to prepare for the grass-court season.
But the Daily Telegraph claims a new proposal, which involves changing the date of an American grass-court event, could solve the problem.
The Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, has traditionally been played in the week after Wimbledon.
But it could be moved to the week after the French Open instead, which would enable Wimbledon to be moved back by seven days.
That would give players a three-week gap between the slow clay courts of the French Open and the quick grass of Wimbledon.
The paper claims the move could happen as early as 2005.
Wimbledon has indicated for several years that if the players made an official request they would seriously think about moving the tournament back.
That has not happened so far because of a number of reasons, the most significant being that players from North and South America do not want to add another week to the 11 they already spend away from home.
It was also thought that the United States Tennis Association would not be happy to lose a week of their season in the run-up to the US Open.
However, with an increasing number of American players flying back to the US in the week after the French Open, the plan to move the Newport grass-court tournament is receiving increasing support