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Are the Grand Slams set in stone?

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Jonathan Overend | 07:26 UK time, Monday, 1 March 2010

Balancing the importance of history with the demands of the future - tradition with progress - is one of the great challenges in tennis. The sport may have moved with the times with big changes to racquets, surfaces and scoring systems, but essentially the game remains true to tradition.

Just take the major championships.

Wimbledon dates back to 1877 (remarkably soon after the invention of the sport, when you think about it) and the Championships of the United States began in 1881. A French Championships began in 1891, allowing international competitors from 1925, while the Australian Championships started in 1905.

The venues have changed (from Worpole Road, Forest Hills, Stade Francais and Kooyong), even the cities have changed - the US event began in Newport, Rhode Island, and the Aussie Open moved from Adelaide to Brisbane before settling in Melbourne - yet the countries have remained constant.

Australia, France, Great Britain and the United States: The hosts of major tennis, the big players, the keepers of tradition.

But will it always be this way? Will there always be four Grand Slam tournaments? And will they always be in the same places?

Having just spent the week in the United Arab Emirates at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, and heard about ambitious plans for expansion, one wonders whether the 'New Tennis World', for want of a better expression, will play a more prominent role in the future.

"There is a lot of money being spent in Asia between three countries," says Salah Tahlak, the Dubai tournament director. "I would say China, UAE and Qatar. A lot of big money."

The Dubai event will be moving from The Aviation Club to a new venue in 2012
The Dubai event will be moving from The Aviation Club to a new venue in 2012

That is certainly true. The China Open is doing well in Beijing while Shanghai will host a Masters 1000 event in October. The Qatar Open in Doha kicks off the season and the end-of-season WTA Championships are staged at the same venue.

The grandly titled World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi would like to think it has a future as more than an exhibition, while new kids on the block Kuala Lumpur entered top-flight tennis in 2009 which the launch of the Malaysian Open at a 16,000 capacity stadium.

Perhaps a little intimidated by this massive investment from Asia, the Australian Open has definitely been looking over its shoulder in recent years.

A few years back it rebranded as the "Grand Slam of Asia and the Pacific" and this year it released ambitious plans to redevelop the grounds at Melbourne Park, including a third retractable roof.

But really it has nothing to worry about.

"Grand Slam" is a registered trademark jointly owned by the Australian Open, French Open, US Open and Wimbledon. The only contracts are between national federations and venues - such as the deal between Tennis Australia and Melbourne Park, which expires in 2016.

Technically, Tennis Australia could franchise out the Australian Championship and hold it in China, but imagine breaking that news to folk down by the Yarra.

While the trademark exists and the venues still come up to scratch, there will be no change, but at tour level the situation is a completely different.

Both the ATP and the WTA appear to have actively encouraged expansion in the Far and Middle East, setting up international divisions to capitalise on the growth, and some tournaments clearly have their eyes on more high-profile slots in the calendar.

The Dubai event, which beganin 1993, is keen to be at the heart of this uprising. Having outgrown its home at The Aviation Club, the tournament is moving to a 15,000-seater stadium, complete with retractable roof, with completion expected in 2012.

Around 20 minutes up towards the beach is the planned Dubai Sports City complex, which also includes purpose-built football and cricket stadiums, although building work appears to be on the slow side, according to locals.

So what's the aim? A Masters 1000 tournament for the Emirate? Not necessarily.

"I think when we move we will have to settle down and examine ourselves," says Colm McCloughlin, managing director of Dubai Duty Free, who has developed the tournament from the start.

"Are we happy with 160,000 or 170,000 spectators? Are we happy with TV coverage iin 400 million homes around the world? Eighteen of the top 20 women players? We're either happy or we're not.

"If we're not happy we have to ask ourselves the question, 'Do we want to become a Masters? Do we want to spend a fortune to acquire one of those tournaments?'

"To get a Masters you actually have to buy the tournament. You have to ask whether it's worth doing that, simply to get the same players, simply to get a little bit more TV coverage?"

McCloughlin knows his successful product in Dubai won't necessarily benefit from an elevation in status (which he believes could cost him US$70-80m) because he gets the big players anyway.

And as for a "Grand Slam of the Middle East", which some believe is inevitable, well it's just not legally possible.

"Not in my lifetime," a Grand Slam spokesman told me.


"Or in yours!"

I take his word for it, he's a lawyer after all, but what about my daughter's lifetime?

I'm not campaigning for change - far from it - simply asking the question: Can anything in sport stay the same for ever?


  • Comment number 1.

    Don't think there is the same problem in tennis as there is in golf. 3 out of 4 majors and all WGC events in America is just taking the proverbial. If any game needs to look at sharing the big events out a little more evenly then it's golf.

    Of course golf currently has other problems. Sometimes it can be hard to see the woods for the trees...

  • Comment number 2.

    Well as everyone knows Tennis as a sport is going from strength to strength right now with sell out crowds at all of the major tournaments on just about every day of the tournament - even the opening rounds. But I think that there does need to be expansion for the tennis world to improve and modernise. In my opinion the country that should really be getting talked about as getting a Grand Slam tournament of its own is Spain. The reasons are almost self evident in the first place. In the Australian Open earlier this year Spain had 7 players in the 32 seeds for mens singles. There is no other country worldwide that can boast this sort of strength in depth and Spain has dominated mens tennis at least for the past 5 years if you are looking at the overall picture instead of just the big tournaments where no one can deny that Roger Federer has dominated for the best part of the last decade. Also at the moment Spain has 2 masters tournaments and several other high profile tournaments such as the Valencia Open. Why not scrap both of Spains Masters tornaments and replace them with one Grand Slam. The 2 masters could then be redistributed to the up and coming tennis nations like China and the United Arab Emirates. Giving Spain a Grand Slam would clearly be a difficult task but not impossible with it being a clay surface Slam of course. This would then make there be 2 Clay Slams, 2 Hard Court Slams and just the one Grass Slam. As the home of tennis and one of the only places that offers Grass court tournaments Wimbledon would do well to be a solitary Grass Court Slam. At the moment, by what I understand, Wimbledon is seen by most players as the Holy Grail of tennis so why not enhance the mystique surrounding the tournament by havin 2 Slams each for the other 2 surfaces and just the 1 for Grass.

    I believe that this is the way to give the upcoming tennis nations some Masters tournaments to talk about and keep the rest of the Tennis world buzzing with excitement of the new Slam.

  • Comment number 3.

    More tennis on TV is always good, there's just too long to wait between the Aus Open and the French Open. So long as Wimbledon remains the most popular in the calendar, expand away.

  • Comment number 4.

    I totally agree with Roper. Why on earth should somewhere like Dubai even come into contention for hosting a Grand Slam? I can't remember the last time the likes of Andy Murray sweated out a five-setter aginst the Emirati number one. If they were to introduce a new Grand Slam then Spain would be the logical choice, and failing that then at least somewhere with a bit of pedigree, such as Sweden, Switzerland or Argentina.

  • Comment number 5.

    But if Dubai wants to host a "Grand Slam" (or whatever they call it), they're going to have to look again at some of their policies. Singling out one player for special treatment on security grounds is one thing, but playing a women's semi outside the stadium court (and everything else they did this year) is another.

  • Comment number 6.

    A "Grand Slam" has to grow organically as opposed to a dubious government throwing dodgy money at it.

  • Comment number 7.

    Fred Perry and co would not have seen winning a title in Australia as anything memorable in the 1930s. Now its a Grand Slam.

    Anything is possible with enough money and will.

  • Comment number 8.

    ibngazelle - "Why on earth should somewhere like Dubai even come into contention for hosting a Grand Slam? I can't remember the last time the likes of Andy Murray sweated out a five-setter aginst the Emirati number one." For many, many years, the people of UAE were probably saying much the same about Wimbledon...

  • Comment number 9.

    There IS nothing set in stone. The four grand slams are there because they are seen as the biggest and most important tournaments of the year, not because of some decree.

    If another event can come along that can capture the interest of players and fans alike to the same level by building a history of it's own then it will attain the same status, however as that would take at least 30-50 years it would seem unlikely.

  • Comment number 10.

    'If they were to introduce a new Grand Slam then Spain would be the logical choice'

    Quite the contrary. Its an illogical choice. Two grand slams already exist in Europe out of four so its already crowded. Asia (which includes the middle east) is the logical next place if such a move were to happen.

    '- "Why on earth should somewhere like Dubai even come into contention for hosting a Grand Slam? I can't remember the last time the likes of Andy Murray sweated out a five-setter aginst the Emirati number one." For many, many years, the people of UAE were probably saying much the same about Wimbledon...'

    EH? Ben! I doubt very much that the people of the UAE even thought about it, before Dubai became an international hub, they were more interested in herding camels than thinking, 'oh, why is there a grand slam in Wimbledon'.

  • Comment number 11.

    Giving a country a slam because it is currently strong in tennis is not an option. Just remember what was and is now Sweden's tennis prowess. How long is the current crop of Spanish players going to last? and how fickle are its fans? The Slams are what they are because they can guarantee long term financial/fan support and not because a group of sportsmen or investors have suddenly shown-up on the scene.

  • Comment number 12.

    "Quite the contrary. Its an illogical choice. Two grand slams already exist in Europe out of four so its already crowded. Asia (which includes the middle east) is the logical next place if such a move were to happen."

    There's no quota for how many Grand Slams take place in each continent but following your own argument, South America is the next logical place.

  • Comment number 13.

    unounos - I was, of course, being facetious, my point being that if you're going to suggest only countries with a fine playing pedigree be allowed to host Grand Slams, then you certainly wouldn't have one in England every year.

  • Comment number 14.

    You can make a case for Buenos Aires or Rio. However by my argument Asia is the place as it is where the growth of tennis is, it is where tournaments are growing in prominence and crucially it is where the new economic powers will be.

    Shanghai, Dubai, Mumbai... all could make a case.

  • Comment number 15.

    Could I simply say to Roper. Enjoy Windmill.

  • Comment number 16.

    The idea that a new grand slam could just be started is unrealistic. What attraction could such a tournament with no history of legacy has to compare with that of Wimbledon, AO, USO, or RG?
    You could call it a grand slam but it would never carry the same weight in the players' eyes or the fans, and anyone who won it would constantly be asterisked.
    A slam is more than just the name and the 5 set format. It is the leagcy and it would be impossible to create that for a new tournament and it would suffer by comparison.

  • Comment number 17.

    It'll move with the money eventually although it may not be something that happens in any predictable decade. I suspect the situation will be static through the next decade (2011-2020) mind.

    Prestige attracts money but eventually as Western populaces continue to sell more of themselves by spending more than they earn there will be a movement East. The Middle East we'll see what happens when the Black Gold starts to run out.

    It's why we should not be too bellicose or short term. It's not impossible that Wimbledon and The Open end up with the status of the Emsley Carr Mile or the National Hunt Chase one day.

  • Comment number 18.

    There won't be any Grand Slam event in Asia for the foreseeable future because of security concerns. The trouble they had making sure Shahar Peer was safe in Dubai recently is a case in point. Surely at Grand Slams all players have to be assured of equal treatment, but Peer was not allowed to mix with other players and had to train in her own gym, in addition to playing her Semi on an outside court. I'm not criticising the authorities for those decisions if they were genuinely needed to keep her safe, but if that is the case then how could a Grand Slam be played under those conditions? Grand Slam status would only heighten the security threat against tournaments.

    Of course, not all Asian countries have the same potential security threats as the Middle East, but there is an undercurrent of radical activity in many that would make the authorities nervous about allowing any of them to host a Slam. But you can never say never, and perhaps in some distant era long after we are all gone the world will have returned to its senses and it will be possible for Asia to host a Slam event. Expanding the game's horizons beyond its traditional boundaries could only be good for the sport after all, so long as the traditions of the existing Slams are preserved.

  • Comment number 19.

    As the old adage goes, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. Over the last decade, tennis has gone from strength to strength. Federer has brought tennis mainstream appeal as a spectacle, almost singlehandedly moving the sport on from the dark days of the nineties and the dominance of the big serve. The level of tennis played at Masters tournaments is higher now than ever, with competetion amongst the elite intense and enthralling to watch.

    Grand Slams remain the pinnacle of greatness however, and I doubt any of the current crop of players will be remembered as greats in years to come, other than those with multiple grand slam wins. It is the stigma surrounding grand slam wins which defines brilliance in this sport, and to disrupt this would be criminal. Another grand slam even is not needed in the sport, the current balance is fine. Neither does the sport particularly need the extra money which a fifth grand slam would bring.

  • Comment number 20.

    BTW why is South America more logical than Asia? Or even Africa? Or Antartica?

    No one serious in the sport is considering South America. It does not even have a semi major tournament yet. Not even one created with vast amounts of appearance money. Equally there appears no ambition to hold such a tournament there which is surely crucial. Which country has a stadium fit for the purpose?

    I cannot think of a single reason to move anything to South America. It beggars belief and suggests graft that the Olympics and World Cup will be held in Brazil (It still staggers me that Paris/Madrid were overlooked for the wrong side of London). The continent is either in debt or poor. Few countries could be described as stable.

  • Comment number 21.

    I can totally understand why Brazil for the World Cup and the Olympics. Firstly South America has already held a number of world cups and the Olympics has never been to that continent. Brazil is also a rising world economic power alongside India and China.

    Could South America hold a major tennis tournament... well yes... there are some fine modern cities on the continent. Buenos Aires is as good as Madrid and Paris for example, actually its the southern hemisphere equivalent.

  • Comment number 22.

    What makes the top trophies in sport desirable? Longevity (tradition, if you will) and scarcity. That's all. You can have call six extra events a year Grand Slams if you like, but they still won't resonate with spectators or players like the old'uns.

    Golf tried marketing the TPC Championship as the Fifth Major and almost seems to have given up on it now. The tennis Masters in Miami got a similar build-up for a while, but eighty or ninety years of history aren't so easily overcome. You could try to call two or three more events a year "Grand Slams" and see how that works, but making World Athletics Championships come round twice as often hasn't done any more for the prestige of those events. Track and field people would still far rather be Olympic champions than world champions; they have the history and they come round only three times in the average career.

    Nothing stays exactly the same in life, let alone sport, but I'm willing to bet that there will still be some immutable points on the sporting calendar for as long as is likely to concern the lifetime of most of us. 4 Grand Slams in a year at Wimbledon, Flushing Meadows, Paris and (probably) Melbourne are among them.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think there should be another two Grand Slams event added. One in Africa and the other in Asia.

  • Comment number 24.

    #19 - An alternative view - don't wait for it to break before you fix it. Formula 1 used to be a predominantly European event, with the odd non-European grand prix here and there thrown in. International Cricket was a 5 day match, one dayer's were good, but they weren't the 'real stuff'. In Golf wasn't the Ryder cup between the UK and the US before it was widened to include Europe?
    Point is, sports continually re-invent themselves, they move with the times (rightly so). We in the 'west' have a view of the world that isn't necessarily shared amongst the developing nations. Add the poulations of India and China alone and you have an audience with ever increasing clout.
    Tennis will find itself evolving, the challenge for the Grand Slams is to remain relevant
    Jonathan has asked a very relevant question, the evidence suggests, to me at least, 'not'.

  • Comment number 25.

    The first thing should be to remove two of the masters 1000 from USA so there is a greater spread of these events across the world, leaving the Slams due to their history.

    How about
    2 x Master 1000 on hard court in Asia/Pacific prior to the Aus Open and moving that back a month.

    2 x Master 1000 on Clay in Europe/North Africa prior to RG.

    1 x Master 1000 on grass between RG and Wimbledon, (move RG 1 week forward and Wimbledon 1 week back)

    2 x Master 1000 on hard court in North America

    1 x Master 1000 prior to end of season tour Champs (Perhaps in Middle East - Abu Dhabi???)

    This would give a 'major' season of 13 events spread across the world

  • Comment number 26.

    Roper should get a life.

  • Comment number 27.

    I hope Roper has good fun next weekend. Oh! I forgot; he can't go to Windmill, because he's barred, not the sort of person we want lowering the tone of this esteemed blog.

  • Comment number 28.

    "McCloughlin knows his successful product in Dubai won't necessarily benefit from an elevation in status (which he believes could cost him US$70-80m) because he gets the big players anyway."

    Colm McCoughlin could hardly be more wrong as regards the effect of moving up to Masters status. Last week in Dubai he had 7 of the men's Top 20 players. Four others were playing in an equal status tournament in Acapulco and the other nine chose to sit out the week, injured or not. If the tournament had Masters status then he would most likely have got all 20 players except those seriously injured. I am not saying Dubai is not an excellent tournament, in fact it regularly gets voted the best by the players, but it is common knowledge that the Masters events gets more of the top players.

    The reason being that Masters Tournaments (excluding Monte Carlo) are mandatory for those players eligible to play. If you choose not to play then you receive no ranking points and this big fat zero counts towards the maximum 18 tournaments you can claim points for and cannot be substituted by points gained at other tournaments.

    I suspect most if not all of the nine that sat this week out, including Grand Slam winners Federer, Nadal, Del Potro and Roddick, will turn out for the first Masters event at Indian Wells the week after next.

    As for a fifth Grand Slam then it will never happen unless Bernie Ecclestone happens to get bored with F1 and turns his beady eye on tennis. There is a classic example of a sport that has completely turned its back on its own history and traditions and simply followed the money.

    I am all in favour of tournaments being held all round the world especially if it encourages those in the new countries to take up the sport, but not at the expense of the traditional locations which have invested hugely to upgrade their facilities.

    I was worried for a moment when the ATP wanted to downgrade Monte Carlo from its Masters status but fortunately the players intervened and prevented that happening. Mind you that could have been because most of them live there. They weren't so bothered about Hamburg.

  • Comment number 29.

    I've no problem with keeping the slams the way they are. What DOES need to change is the length of the grass court season. Seriously, two weeks before and after Wimbledon is not good enough, and to have not a single Masters Series tournament on grass? Ludicrous. They really should either expand the Masters Series to ten events with Queens Club joining, or just have Queens Club replace one of the weaker Masters tournaments (subjective of course, but I'd say perhaps Indian Wells simply because the USA has another two to fall back on which are considered bigger events).

  • Comment number 30.

    Grand Slams are what they are because of one thing, history. Wimbledon is important not because of how old it is, but because of who has won the competition. You can't conjure up this magic from nowhere.

    I would be disgusted if tennis just invented a new grand slam.

    I am also quite disturbed by sport in the Middle East. The only thing that the Middle East does for sport is throw money at it. There are no sports stars from that area, there is no tradition. The fact is it is just an oil rich part of the world who want more recognition. When the oil runs out and that part of the world becomes incredibly depleted, organisers will regret being associated with it.

    The way tennis is organised at the moment is fine. 4 Grand Slams on 4 different surfaces in 4 different countries, spread nicely over the year.

  • Comment number 31.

    The fact is, tennis doesn't need to change for anything or anyone.

    The only people who want tennis to change and expand are those who want to make more money from it, i.e. parasites.

    Look at football at the minute, how is that supposed to get any bigger globally? Suggestions were made, and they were laughed at. Football started as the working mans game, and it shouldn't be sold down the river. Tennis can't usurp football, and it doesn't need to. It doesn't need to expand or change, as the people within the sport that matter-the players, are I'm sure more than happy with it. If anything they'd rather travel less. I'm sure they would give an unfavourable response to the idea of a fifth grand slam. Imagine pitching that idea to Roger Federer, he'd ask what you were doing. Why are you trying to devalue my achievements.

    People in sport at the top are always keen to rinse people of money. More specifically, people trying to sell a domestic product abroad. Sport is treated too much like business now. Most businesses have exit strategies, a defined end. They know that they can't infinitely expand because they'll just die. Sport shouldn't be tying to do this.

    Tennis should know its limits. It's good that it is a global sport as it generates more interest, but once you devalue the whole thing that its popularity is built around, then you are going to crumble. A fifth Grand Slam is ludicrous and would weaken the Sport.

  • Comment number 32.

    1877 "remarkably soon after the invention of the sport"

    Really? Tennis is recorded as being played by Renaissance Italian princes some 400 years before. So not that remarkably soon.

  • Comment number 33.

    'People in sport at the top are always keen to rinse people of money. More specifically, people trying to sell a domestic product abroad. Sport is treated too much like business now. Most businesses have exit strategies, a defined end. They know that they can't infinitely expand because they'll just die. Sport shouldn't be tying to do this.'

    Well the answer to that is that top sportsmen in certain sports like tennis make millions out of the game precisely because there are huge sponsors and tournaments willing to put large sums of money forward. If they don't want the lifestyle of millionaires then they don't have to play professional tennis.

  • Comment number 34.

    Sorry no, there will never be another slam. 1) the current slams won't accept a dilution of their marketing power and 2) can you seriously expect the players to accept adding another 2-week tournament to an already crowded calendar? What you will get is the ATP trying to bully Masters venues into paying more and more money for the 'privilege' of hosting the events and it will end up in a similar situation to the F1 circuits/Bernie Ecclestone relationship with will they/won't they debates about venues each year, more and more unhappy players with more injuries and like F1, eventually the fans will suffer.

  • Comment number 35.

    As far as the Middle East is concerned I think it has to be considered how volatile that area is. This is not meant as prejudice. We saw what happened to Peer last year. This year she was in but it was as though she was under house arrest. If the USA gets to much involved, as it already is, Dubai and Doha may feel pressure from other Arab-Muslim countries to exclude other "enemies". Then there was the whole Moussad-Hamas thing that recently happened in Dubai. I just think that the wind could quickly change in any Arab country, open or not at this time, depending on the winds of conflict.
    I also don't think that every region that has an interest or growing interest in tennis should get a Major (they are inappropriately called Grand Slams but the term really mean the calendar Grand Slam.) IMHO.

  • Comment number 36.

    Can't see another slam added in my lifetime. It works so well as it is from the history and tradition to the marketing aspect. You just can't beat it and why would anyone want to.

    I do however think that the Masters 1000's or super 9's or whatever they are called now days, needs to spread into each continent. Its vital that its seen as a "World Series" and not a series held in only 3 continents. Keep the number of 1000 events the same (or less), but spread it round a little.

  • Comment number 37.

    While I don't think there will be another slam in the foreseeable future, this is nonetheless an interesting debate on the growth of tennis. Many tournaments feature the world's best players, but don't have the prestige unless we're told they do. If any tournament was elevated to Grand Slam status, it would instantly receive credibility because we love titles - the better it sounds and the better the marketing, the more the public will buy into it.
    One suggestion that hasn't been put forward is to have a rotating slam: move it from Dubai to China, then Russia, then Argentina, Sweden, etc. Over time, perhaps it could find a permanent home, and it would also allay fears that it's just about the money.
    Perhaps, however, instead of tinkering with Grand Slams and singles tournaments, there should be an effort to overhaul team tennis, which doesn't get a great deal of coverage in most countries. Perhaps a World Cup every two years, with all nations entered into a knockout, with the top 16 seeded and qualifying automatically. The format could be one men's singles, one women's, one men's doubles, female doubles, mixed doubles. Heck, even put an over 40s men and women's double in too. All sports can be constantly re-invented, look at cricket. Some would argue T20 is bad, but it's at least a sport committed to trying new things. And 50 years ago, there was no World Cup of rugby, or cricket. It's all about finding things the public will buy into, and you don't achieve that without trying, even if it doesn't work. The current situation seems to be play as many tournaments in as many places as possible, rake in as much cash as possible for tournaments, sponsors and players, and don't worry too much about the future of the game.

  • Comment number 38.

    I think another aspect that needs to be discussed is the expectations of the players. Adding more Grand Slams means subtracting other tournaments, if they are to be a two week format, and rearranging other tournaments to get both genders playing at the same time (one of the best things about the slams!). Tennis used to be a summer sport, now it's eleven months of the year, and more injuries are accruing, diminishing the enjoyment of the viewer, who is generally hoping to see the best players play their best. How does adding Grand Slams help that?

  • Comment number 39.

    Of course the Grand Slams are set in stone! When someone wins all four Majors, that's a historical fact – no one can ever repudiate it.

  • Comment number 40.

    Some people have no idea about the history of tennis' Grand Slam.

    7. At 10:39am on 01 Mar 2010, Spaced Invader wrote: "Fred Perry and co would not have seen winning a title in Australia as anything memorable in the 1930s. Now its a Grand Slam."

    In fact, the term "Grand Slam" was invented in 1933. After Australia's Jack Crawford won the Australian, French and Wimbledon Championships, his prospects of winning the U.S. Championships were described by New York Times columnist John Kieran as, "...something like scoring a grand slam on the courts."

    Since this was long before the Open era (which started in 1969), we should also remember that money did not come into it. This was the amateur era, when players played for the honour of winning, not money, therefore, in my opinion, it will only be when tennis deems fit to recognise another tournament as having gathered sufficient prestige to warrant debate about creating a 5th Slam that a debate will become necessary. Right now, it's wasted breath.

  • Comment number 41.

    I quite frankly would prefer the tradition of 4 Grand Slams to stay. Not that i'd not love more grand slams but the value of 'Grand Slams' as a whole would diminish, if new ones keep coming up.

    I feel ATP & WTA tournaments do a good enough job expanding the sport across the world.

  • Comment number 42.

    A really interesting article.

    My prediction is that the Australian Open will decline significantly in importance over the next 5-10 years with a bigger more important tournament in Asia. I take your point about the trade marking issue of 'Grand Slam' but this will be irrelevant long term.

    Channel 7 gave awful coverage of the Australian Open on terrestrial TV this year. It played second fiddle to news and reality shows which obviously attract higher advertising revenue.

    Tennis Australia is also in real turmoil. The introduction of plexicushion (the blue surface which the tournament changed to) has not really been accepted at club or local tournament level and is said to have a lot of glare as a player. Most players play the majority of the time on clay anyway. Lleyton Hewitt has been the no.1 male tennis player for the last 10 years.

    TV timings don't really suit Europe/the US and China will have far bigger bucks to offer as prize money.

  • Comment number 43.

    Personally, I would wait to see what kind of status is accrued by the Olympic tournament before deciding whether or not to establish a fifth major. If a tennis tournament at the Olympics, with all its history, cannot gain the same kind of status as a Slam, what chance does a newcomer with no history whatsoever stand?

    A case could be made for the Olympic tournament already being a de facto fifth Slam, in any case.

  • Comment number 44.

    You cannot just put a tournament somewhere and say to the players "this is a grand slam" and expect them to care.

    In some ways the attraction of the slams currently is the different surfaces. Best grass court player in the world - Wimbledon Champion. Best clay courter in the world - French Open Champion. Best hard court player in the world - US Open/Aus Open Champions.

    In order to develop a new Grand Slam a different surface would have to be used. And when you consider that there are already slams played on clay, grass and hard then a newcomer would have to be played indoors maybe on a fairly fast surface.

    It could be played at the same time of year as the ATP World Champs is currently played.

    Obviously it would be very hard logistically to play a slam indoors but other than developing a new surface this is the only option.

    Trying to put another slam on clay will always put it 2nd fiddle to the french. Another on grass is second fiddle to wimbledon. The whole point of the slams is that they are the pinnacle of the sport.

    There can only be one clay slam, one grass slam and OK there are 2 hard slams but everyone knows the Aus Open is the least prestigious of the 4 by a distance for the very reason that it is not the only slam played on hard.

    Either a new surface needs to get developed (tricky) or a huge indoor centre needs to get built in Asia.

  • Comment number 45.

    It's all very well adding more and more tournaments to the already crammed ATP and WTA tours. The stadiums are increasingly awe inspiring and sadly the tennis is become duller and duller as the same surface is being used the world over - HARD COURTS. Why can't there be more variation in what surfaces are used? The players are dropping like flies with their knee, hip, lower back and ankle injuries due to playing on such a hard surface. Why are there not more clay court tournaments outside of Europe? The South American clay court circuit follows the Australian Open but most players are exhausted having played for three weeks on hard courts. It seems bizarre!

    August through to April the tennis season is played on hard courts. No variation. No excitement. The same old same old.

    The tennis season gets interesting in my opinion once the clay court season starts followed by the brief stint on grass. The rest of the year...well, I yawn quite frankly.

    Doesn't anyone else see it?

  • Comment number 46.

    I'm pleased to see that many people have mentioned different surfaces. I wish the governing bodies of tennis looked into forcing the top players to play more on clay and grass.

    Why not push the South American circuit more ? (played on clay)

    Andy Murray played in the Hopman Cup and the AO in January and needed to take the rest of the month of February off to did the other top players. Surely if these people were playing on body friendlier surfaces, they'd be up for playing more. Right?

  • Comment number 47.

    Roper, you speak complete balderdash!! How is it fair to have three grand slams in Europe? what about Africa? this is an ideal place to have a grand slam to bring another tv market to tennis, and i am not talking about Eygpt or South Africa, i am talking about the real africa- Nigeria or Kenya. It also should be played on sand, i think this would add another dimension to tennis.
    By the way you guys should not watch tennis, its boring. watch football its much better.

  • Comment number 48.

    Am I the only one frustrated by Roper's ridiculous comments. Which display a real lack of respect for true Tennis fans. Not simply for his previous track record, but mainly for his conduct on this blog he should be ashamed of himself.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    Does anybody have anything to say about Roper or other thoughts to contribute.

  • Comment number 51.

    Why is Roper getting all this agro? Can someone explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    After the Grand Slams, there should be a WGC style series that includes China, Moscow, Brazil rotating with Argentina, Doha rotating with Dubai. If the rotaters swap men and women annually at each venue, everybody gets a major event every year. Spain is nice, but with 2 GS events in Europe already, don't see another major clay court event muddying things up. Important thing here is that the growth of the sport and world has changed dramatically - flexibility with this format will ensure continued growth and inclusion...

  • Comment number 53.

    Clay is a terrible surface that should be phazed out, not more matches played on it!

  • Comment number 54.

    I agree with most that another GS would never really work in the minds of fans and players. Even to this day the Australian Open is widely regarded as the less prestigious of the four due to its late arrival as a Major tournament on the professional tour, and the event has been going on in some form for over 100 years (around the same as the French Open).

    The only change I would find vaguely acceptable would be to permanently close the roof at Melbourne Park so that one GS was indoors, so as to add further variety to the tour (which divides itself into hard, clay, grass, and indoor tournaments anyway).

    As for the Masters 1000 level, I feel they just need to spread them out a bit to help the players schedules, with 500s/250s falling in and around for the players who go out of the Masters/GS earlier and need more tournaments at a lower level of tennis.

    The US having 3 Masters 1000 tournaments is also, I think, a bit unfair. It is a major tennis nation, and from what I gather Indian Wells is the younger/less prestigious of the three so why not swap that for something else. My suggestion would be a toss up between a South America Clay event, or a German Grass event (eg upgrade Halle).

    Monte Carlo, Rome, Madrid, and RG do a fantasitc job imo of maintaining a concentrated clay court season and should not be changed (i would have left hamburg meself but then Spain is a bigger presence on clay).

    People hammer on for more grass, as I have myself, but then someone convinced me that adding more grass events would actually take away from the truly special occasion that is the 'grass season'. The few events in that time slot coupled with the motherland of the sport are a unique stopover on the tour and shouldn't be changed.

    As for the indoor circuit, I feel that the Shanghai and Paris Masters 1000 are poorly positioned and don't really have much attention given to them. People are tired by then, and are usually saving what energy is left for the Tour Finals and/or Davis Cup later stages, both of which are held in higher regard. I think that Shanghai will have to work hard to truly replace the classic old indoor tournament in Madrid (who had to do the same over Stuttgart), and having ANOTHER large event in Paris seems unjust. I'd say upgrade Basel to a Masters instead (at least Roger would try in that case), or have a combined WTA/ATP event in Moscow. They have plenty of tennis pedigree but little to show for it on the tour.

  • Comment number 55.

    The one thing that the current "Grand Slams" have that you cannot take away is the history and each year that history is being added to. As long as the current Grand Slam venues keep their eye on the ball and continue to develop and improve there really is not a case for change.
    However, when it comes to expanding the game worldwide and especially in Asia then the tennis calendar really needs to be developed to incorporate and balance these requirements. It would help for example that the Australian Open did start later in the year (end of Feb beginning of March). This would allow players time to recover at the end of the previous season and a proper build-up could be had up-to the Australian Open event which could include say Masters tournaments in China and/or Malaysia for example


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