Support Growing For Tennis Tournaments To Switch From Clay To Grass Courts
Grass-court tennis "is on the attack" as several clay-court tournaments in Europe "are looking to convert to grass in a significant shift in the game's balance of power," according to Paul Newman of the London INDEPENDENT. Impetus for the change "has come from Wimbledon's decision to start a week later from '15." Players have long complained that the two-week break between the French Open and Wimbledon "gives them insufficient time to hone their grass-court game." The All England Club's move "will create a three-week gap for grass-court tournaments after Roland Garros." Events across Europe, including the men's competitions at Hamburg, Stuttgart and Gstaad, "have shown interest in filling it." Meanwhile, the WTA "wants to double to six the number of grass-court competitions in the build-up to Wimbledon." Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association "have been happy to help those tournaments thinking of going green." LTA CEO Roger Draper said: "We have a very good relationship with the tennis federations in countries like Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, and we're working together on this. It's in everybody's interests to see more of the top players playing more grass-court tennis." An attraction for clay-court tournaments wanting to switch to grass "is the prospect of attracting better and more varied fields." Stuttgart wants to convert five of its 27 courts -- including its main stadium -- to grass. Tournament Dir Edwin Weindorfer said: "At the moment we never attract American players, for example, because they all want to go home after Wimbledon" (INDEPENDENT, 12/19).