Summit thrashes out tennis' future
World tennis chiefs have taken the first step towards a revamped tournament calendar which could have the Australian Open a month or two later than its January slot.
The theory that the first grand slam event of the year is played too early has gained credence in recent months and was addressed at a summit in Lausanne last weekend.
Rescheduling the Australian Open to March would allow players "to build to a peak at the four Grand Slams" although such a move could not take place before 2007 at the earliest.
"There are a lot of interested parties in the dates of many tournaments," Tennis Australia boss Geoff Pollard said in January.
"We've made it quite clear there would be no possibility of any change at least before 2007.
"The determination of the circuit in the end is a multi-dimensional exercise."
Other items on the agenda of the Grand Slam Committee included a multi-million dollar year-end tournament, a longer off-season and a new series of elite events featuring the sport's top names.
The Grand Slams and the International Tennis Federation said on Monday they had met "to discuss how to generate meaningful change to ensure the long-term health and growth of tennis".
One of those "meaningful changes" is a bid to stave off fatigue - for both players and fans.
The committee said it wanted to ensure a player-friendly, rational and clear tennis calendar that offers "a longer off-season, not less than two months, for the benefit of both players and fans".
Currently, there is a window of just four weeks between the Davis Cup final and the opening tournament of the following season in Australia - allowing top players only a handful of days rest before they begin preparations for the new campaign.
Earlier this year, former world No.1 Marat Safin said: "We have the shortest vacations in any sport. In every other sport they have ... time to recover, vacations with their families and time to prepare themselves for the next season.
"We have nothing. This year I had two weeks of vacation so I mean there is nothing. If you want to fly somewhere to have vacations, you can spend like 10 days."
Plans for a combined year-ender featuring both a men's and women's tournament along the lines of a Grand Slam would be a huge boost for the women's showpiece in particular.
Much has been made of the poor attendances at the women's championships in Los Angeles where the Staples Center was almost empty for many of the early matches last year.
The men's event, by contrast, had fans flocking to Shanghai to witness the biggest professional sports event held in China.
The committee also reaffirmed commitment to team competitions and said it would promote international team competition and representation "through calendar priority for Davis Cup, Fed Cup and the Olympics".