Tennis chief fights overseas opposition to Open
February 11 2003
By Linda Pearce
An Australian Open date change would be considered only in conjunction with the other options available to shorten the season, according to Tennis Australia president Geoff Pollard, who has reiterated his fierce resistance to the introduction of new international lead-up events in competition with the local circuit.
Pollard also called for an investigation into the potential growth of exhibitions and other lucrative special events during the extended rest period that would be created by pushing back the Australian championship to March or April, or ending the year earlier than its current finish with the Davis Cup final at the end of November. If players continue to compete, then the main purpose of a calendar overhaul is defeated.
There will be no major change until at least 2007, with the Commonwealth Games scheduled for Melbourne in March, 2006, although Pollard said the views of all relevant parties were being sought. The International Tennis Federation's grand slam committee met last month at Melbourne Park, but officials have refused to reveal the outcome.
Still, Tennis Australia is maintaining its firm position that the Australian circuit would be shifted only as a four-week bloc, meaning that no new overseas tournaments could be created, and that American hardcourt tournaments such as Miami and Indian Wells could not be used as warm-up events in the preceding fortnight.
Pollard admitted that the administration of tennis, which is split between the ITF (grand slams, Davis Cup and Fed Cup), the ATP (men) and WTA (women), was a cause for concern, but was more satisfied with the general acknowledgment that the four grand slam tournaments should be the tennis peaks around which the comparative troughs are arranged.
He called for the length of non-grand slams to be capped at eight days, including a combined year-end championship, if one is created. At present, the mixed event in Miami runs for 12 days in March.