ATP extends winter break

November 22, 2010

The ATP has announced that the men’s tennis calendar will be shortened by two weeks from 2012 giving the players a seven-week off-season.

Roger Federer is leading the calls for the ATP Tour to extend the gap in between seasons, which this year sees the top stars have just over a month off before starting another 11-month campaign.

The ATP have responded by extending the break by two weeks, but it now means that the Paris Masters and ATP World Tour Finals are to be held back to back.

The Paris tournament is the last qualifying event for the end-of-season eight-man showpiece, with the following week given over to practice time for the players and promotion of the event, which began a five-year stint at London’s O2 Arena in 2009.

The changes were approved at a board meeting in London on Saturday, with two weeks removed from the calendar courtesy of condensing Paris and London as well as the reallocation of three smaller tournaments to earlier in the year.

ATP executive chairman and president Adam Helfant defended the changes saying it was the only way a longer break could be brought in.

“We’re very happy with the result,” said Helfant. “The length of the off-season is arguably the biggest issue confronting the sport of tennis, and it was the responsibility of the ATP to find a way to address the problem.

“As you can imagine, there were quite a few options that were on the table. And the board weighed up all the different considerations and ultimately decided that the calendar as you see before you reflects our best options for achieving our goal, which was to create a more meaningful off-season.”

World number one Rafael Nadal has been a particular critic of the gruelling nature of the tennis season but it remains to be seen whether the players believe this represents the best option.

There will be concern the changes will negatively impact on the World Tour Finals, but Helfant insisted that will not be the case.

He continued: “We promote this tournament all year long. In fact, when you leave the arena on Sunday after the finals, we will be promoting next year’s finals.

“The success of this event does not depend on a couple of promotional activities that have traditionally taken place in the week before our last Masters 1000s and the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.”

Source: Sky Sports