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Old Mar 17th, 2003, 10:03 PM   #1
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Tennis in line for changes

The Australian Open may be moved back in the year
Tennis chiefs are planning a series of changes to ensure the future health of the sport.
The overhaul includes a multi-million pound tournament to end the year, a longer off-season, a revamped calendar and a new series of elite events for the top players.

And the sport's bosses appear to have opened the way for the Australian Open to be moved later in the year.

It is currently held every January, months before the other three Grand Slam events.

One of the major concerns is preventing players from burning out, which is why the committee has proposed extending the off-season to two months from the current four weeks.

The plan to hold a combined year-end tournament featuring both men and women would be a huge boost for the women's game in particular.

Player power

The proposals have been made by the Grand Slam Committee, featuring the bosses of Wimbledon and the French, Australian and US Opens, and the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

The committee said on Monday that it would be inviting the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women's Tennis Association (WTA) to "participate in a possible new governance partnership".

That appears to suggest that they want the players to have a larger say in the way the game is run.

The committee also reaffirmed its commitment to team competitions and gave its full backing to the Davis Cup, Fed Cup and the Olympics.

A number of top players have recently voiced concern about the way the game is run and world number one Lleyton Hewitt is backing a proposed breakaway men's players' association.

Hewitt backs breakaway

South African Wayne Ferreira and veteran American Jeff Tarango are planning to launch the International Men's Tennis Association (IMTA) in opposition to the ATP.
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