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spiceboy
Oct 23rd, 2006, 04:03 PM
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,5205-2417060,00.html

Grand-slam executives meet for secret talks

http://images.thetimes.co.uk/images/trans.gifWHAT would have enticed the chief executives of the four grand-slam tournaments to a Surrey hotel last week unless it was to put the final touches to their road map for a sport that requires bold and imaginative leadership to make the most of the riches at its disposal? Ian Ritchie, from Wimbledon, Arlen Kantarian of the USTA, Stefan Simeon of the French federation and Steve Wood of Tennis Australia were ensconced for three days of summit meetings, the likely outcome of which is a blueprint detailing how they believe tennis should be governed.

Given that they meet again as a matter of course at the Masters Cup in Shanghai next month — the grand-slam events are joint-owners of the event with the ATP — the fact that the four felt it necessary to get their heads together for a brainstorming session indicates a consuming desire to drive changes through from the top.

The one message that filtered from the meetings indicated a strong cohesion among the grand-slam competitions and that has not always been the case. Indeed, more often than not they have voted for individual profit rather than mutual advantage.

But, as the Grand Slam Committee, they are committed to establishing ground rules that suit them, harbouring the desire to maintain their positions of strength, compose a credible calendar and not allow new measures being contemplated by Etienne de Villiers, the chief executive of the ATP, and Larry Scott, chairman and chief executive of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, to undermine them.

De Villiers has announced that the men’s and women’s tours — liaising more closely than for years, which may be unnerving the grand-slam events — have agreed in principle to share four combined events by 2009.

The provisional idea is for two in North America, one in March and the other in August, one in Europe two weeks before the French Open and a fourth in China. There may also, in future, be a combined end-of-year Masters, with the Millennium Dome, in east London, emerging as a favoured venue. The grand-slam championships have never been in favour of a proliferation of combined events, believing that they dilute their own importance.

The ITF, under whose auspices they meet, are determined to preserve the importance of the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup, the national team tournaments, but there is a growing body of enlightened opinion that both are in need of a revamp.

A number of the top 20 male players have already made plain their disquiet at having to play in next year’s first-round ties two weeks after the Australian Open. Indeed, it is probable that neither Roger Federer nor Rafael Nadal will appear in the tie between Switzerland and Spain in February, which only harms the event’s reputation.

Whether the grand-slam executives agree that these events would be better staged as a World Cup of Tennis at the end of each year, or every other year, remains to be seen. A Davis Cup World Group round shorn of world-class players eats away at the esteem of the championship.

The ATP has decided to experiment with round-robin groups at several events next year — the Stella Artois Championship, at Queen’s Club, West London, in June is among those considering guinea-pig status — to maximise the opportunities for top players to last longer in the event. Those tournaments that volunteer will have to start a day earlier to cope with the scheduling difficulties. When the WTA revealed two weeks ago that none of its leading tournaments had achieved their quota of top-ten players in 2006, through injury, they demanded a radical rethink of the calendar, suggesting a shortened season, ending in October, that leaves an awful chasm, more breaks for top players after the grand-slam tournaments, a reduction in the commitment of “top players” from 13 to 11 tournaments, a simplified ranking system and a streamlined top level of tournaments with the leading players competing against each other more often. As the sport’s plans for the future are redrawn on an almost weekly basis, the grand-slam tournaments are preparing to say how they believe it should be done. The repercussions will be mighty.

Brian Stewart
Oct 24th, 2006, 09:47 AM
I think the slams are worried about more than merely "diluting" their importance. Apparently they are more aware of the history of the game than most of the writers covering it. If the WTA and ATP come to the realization that their tours are more important than the slams, the slams lose their leverage. And while many writers would be quick to dismiss such a suggestion, history shows, for example, that the Australian Championships took a back seat to the New Zealand Championships early on, and back in the 19th century, the early days of Wimbledon, it wasn't even the biggest event in the British Isles (the Irish Championships held that distinction). And look what happened to the French and Aussie tournaments in the mid-late 70's. When the top players began skipping, they lost prestige.

So, if the tours got POed at one of the slams and pulled it from their schedule, and held a combined event in the region at the same time, featuring all the top players, and declared it to be the new slam, it would grow into slam status while the previous slam event withered. So the slams might want to be careful, opt to try to influence the tours in more subtle ways, and not do anything heavy-handed.

Not sure what to say about the Davis/Fed Cup proposals. There have been cries for revamping the formats as long as these events have been around (usually from nations where it hasn't been as popular). But, unless I'm mistaken the current format seems to still work in most countries. While the "World Cup" approach might seem like a good idea, remember the Fed Cup was held in that format for decades. The problem encountered was the large number of Federations represented in one place, each demanding a block of comp tickets for their officials, leaving precious few tickets for actual paying customers. But if they could get suitable venues, they might be able to pull it off. And if they go to alternate-year format, it would be wise to alternate Davis and Fed Cups, so the ITF could place all of their focus on one in a given year.

I'd personally like to see a WTT-style world championship event between nations. The beauty of WTT is that it's combined, with both genders contributing equally, individual events are limited to a single set, thus not overtaxing players, and scoring is cumulative, eliminating dead rubbers. This, regardless of the score, like a regualr match it isn't over until the last point is won. Imagine a US squad of Roddick, Blake, Williams, and Davenport, facing a Russian team of Safin, Davydenko, Sharapova, and Petrova, for example. Or the French team of Gasquet, Monfils, Mauresmo, and Pierce. Or a Swiss team including Federer, Hingis, and Schnyder. Talk about a star-studded event!

Will other slams adopt a US-Open Series style buildup? It would be tough for Oz and Wimby, with such a short leadup, but certainly could enhance the leadup to Roland Garros (particularly here in the U.S., where the red clay season is all but invisible). Will they realize, as the USTA has, that by promoting the regular tour events, they also help themselves? Perhaps, in lieu of more cash bonuses, these series could award rankings bonuses which would be applied to adjusted surface seedings for each major.

CooCooCachoo
Oct 24th, 2006, 09:50 AM
A combined YEC in London would be nice and more cost-effective :)

MrSerenaWilliams
Oct 24th, 2006, 10:21 AM
I think the slams are worried about more than merely "diluting" their importance. Apparently they are more aware of the history of the game than most of the writers covering it. If the WTA and ATP come to the realization that their tours are more important than the slams, the slams lose their leverage. And while many writers would be quick to dismiss such a suggestion, history shows, for example, that the Australian Championships took a back seat to the New Zealand Championships early on, and back in the 19th century, the early days of Wimbledon, it wasn't even the biggest event in the British Isles (the Irish Championships held that distinction). And look what happened to the French and Aussie tournaments in the mid-late 70's. When the top players began skipping, they lost prestige.

So, if the tours got POed at one of the slams and pulled it from their schedule, and held a combined event in the region at the same time, featuring all the top players, and declared it to be the new slam, it would grow into slam status while the previous slam event withered. So the slams might want to be careful, opt to try to influence the tours in more subtle ways, and not do anything heavy-handed.

Not sure what to say about the Davis/Fed Cup proposals. There have been cries for revamping the formats as long as these events have been around (usually from nations where it hasn't been as popular). But, unless I'm mistaken the current format seems to still work in most countries. While the "World Cup" approach might seem like a good idea, remember the Fed Cup was held in that format for decades. The problem encountered was the large number of Federations represented in one place, each demanding a block of comp tickets for their officials, leaving precious few tickets for actual paying customers. But if they could get suitable venues, they might be able to pull it off. And if they go to alternate-year format, it would be wise to alternate Davis and Fed Cups, so the ITF could place all of their focus on one in a given year.

I'd personally like to see a WTT-style world championship event between nations. The beauty of WTT is that it's combined, with both genders contributing equally, individual events are limited to a single set, thus not overtaxing players, and scoring is cumulative, eliminating dead rubbers. This, regardless of the score, like a regualr match it isn't over until the last point is won. Imagine a US squad of Roddick, Blake, Williams, and Davenport, facing a Russian team of Safin, Davydenko, Sharapova, and Petrova, for example. Or the French team of Gasquet, Monfils, Mauresmo, and Pierce. Or a Swiss team including Federer, Hingis, and Schnyder. Talk about a star-studded event!

Will other slams adopt a US-Open Series style buildup? It would be tough for Oz and Wimby, with such a short leadup, but certainly could enhance the leadup to Roland Garros (particularly here in the U.S., where the red clay season is all but invisible). Will they realize, as the USTA has, that by promoting the regular tour events, they also help themselves? Perhaps, in lieu of more cash bonuses, these series could award rankings bonuses which would be applied to adjusted surface seedings for each major.

THE.PERFECT.POST :worship::worship::worship::worship::worship::wors hip::worship:

I was sooooooooooooo thinking the SAME THING about the WTT style :yeah: great minds...:haha:

Ben.
Oct 24th, 2006, 10:36 AM
i really hope the 4 grand slams don't wither & let other combined big tourneys in the near future take over their slam status.

WTT format between championship team events is a great idea, attracts tons of fans & brings in the entertainment value. clever, very clever.

MrSerenaWilliams
Oct 24th, 2006, 10:48 AM
exactly. BJK is a GENIUS. That should be the Olympic fomat as well.

Men's Singles, Mens' Doubles, Women's Singles, Womens' Doubles, Mixed Doubles and a Team Event. Tennis would be HUGE.

fufuqifuqishahah
Oct 24th, 2006, 12:07 PM
A combined YEC in London would be nice and more cost-effective :)

yea love the idea but not in London. There is already Wimbledon in England. They need to put it in asia or eastern europe/russia or south america. It really only makes sense.

MrSerenaWilliams
Oct 24th, 2006, 12:31 PM
I agree...Johannesburg would be really nice. There needs to be tennis in Africa. It could use the tourism, and it would raise AIDS awareness. Either that or since it's an elite event, in Hawaii or another exotic locale like the Grand Slam of Golf