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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 January, 2004, 06:16 GMT
WTA backs Open date change
Melbourne Park attracts huge crowds
The WTA has backed proposals to move the Australian Open from January to March in time for the 2007 tournament.

Open organisers plan to play the first Grand Slam event of the season later in the year, either in the first week of February or in March.

WTA chief executive Larry Scott is pushing for the more radical of the two options for the benefit of tennis.

"The bigger the move back the better. If we look at the length of the season that would be healthiest," he said.

"But obviously you can't just operate in a vacuum, and there's lots of complications. At the end of the day the Australian Open has to make the call."

No decision has yet been made and Tennis Australia have to contend with making a move in a crowded sporting calendar.

At the moment the Open is played in school holidays and does not clash with the Australian Rules footbal season.

A March date would put it in direct competition with the Australian Formula One Grand Prix, which is also staged in Melbourne.

"Any move would be a positive development in terms of giving us a longer off-season," Scott added.

"The fact that, to get ready for the Australian Open, the players have to be travelling, and have to really feel like they're preparing over Christmas and New Year, is very difficult."

Tennis Australia has consistently argued that, although the season does need to be shortened, an extended break can be better facilitated by an earlier finish to the year.

This year the Davis Cup final will not be played until early December.





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