So, Wimbledon is going to move back a week in the calendar, a bold move and one that will be appreciated by all the players. The extra week between the French Open and Wimbledon will allow the ATP Tour to build in an extra week on the grass and the big guns will have that extra week to recover and prepare for another grand slam event. I’m sure Rafael Nadal would have appreciated it this year.
It is an impressive move on the part of the All England Club and a lot of the praise must go to new chairman Phil Brook, who has succeeded where many others failed in the past. Richard Lewis, the new chief executive, was also very much on board and the two men have got their wish.
Lewis revealed during this year’s Wimbledon that the club were discussing the possibility of moving back a week. In the past, it was always thought that the potential clash with the British Grand Prix or being too close to the Open Championship, was enough to stop it happening. But it’s amazing what a collective will can achieve and now it will be fascinating to see how the ATP and WTA Tours respond with the calendars, which will have to be tweaked.
The ATP lopped a couple of weeks off their calendars for 2012 and 2013 and recently, Tour insiders suggested that was not going to be the last of the changes. With Wimbledon going back by a week, the North American hard-court season will fear that something will have to give, not in their favour, especially as the US Open’s dates, over the Labor Day weekend, are pretty much set in stone.
One possibility would be for Newport, the only grass-court event in the United States, could move to the week immediately after the French Open. Most of the American players will be back home anyway after Paris (unless they go late in the second week) so the field should not be adversely affected. Then they can go to either Queen’s or Halle, and on to Eastbourne or s’-Hertogenbosch for the final week before Wimbledon. Newport may not like the idea and the weather may not be quite as good but it might be the best option, if we’re looking at that side of Wimbledon.
Some people have talked about upgrading either Halle or Queen’s to be a Masters 500 tournament, or even extending one of them to 10 days.
The other option might be a little more controversial but since it could come from the players, who hold quite a lot of power at the moment, it may just have more weight than usual. It would involve reducing Indian Wells and/or Miami to a week-long event rather than the 10 days they are both spread over. That would create an extra week in the calendar and the clay-court season could even start earlier. Wimbledon have already announced their dates, but if this happened, then they could even stick to their existing ones.
Players have complained about going all the way to Indian Wells for a 10-day tournament, especially when they lose in the first or second round and then have to wait a week before playing another event, thus costing them money. The owners of Indian Wells and Miami will obviously not like any changes but it’s not impossible. Either way, I think we’re likely to see some pretty intense negotiations over the next few weeks as the ATP try to set their calendars for 2014 and 2015.