Top players welcome move to overhaul structure of game

KEY BISCAYNE (Florida): The world’s leading men’s tennis players welcomed an initiative to overhaul the structure of the game on Tuesday and expressed their concern at the “dangerous” move by some of their peers who have set up a breakaway union.  

On a night of off-court politics every bit as hectic as anything scheduled on court this week at the Nasdaq-100 Open, the players attended meetings called by the ATP, the men’s governing body, and the group claiming the support of several top players, the new International Men’s Tennis Association (IMTA). 

The ATP meeting heard chief executive Mark Miles outline proposals drawn up by the International Tennis Federation grand slam committee in Lausanne at the weekend. 

The proposals included a multi-million dollar year-end tournament, a longer off-season, a revamped calendar and a new series of elite events.  

The changes may also see the Australian Open moved from its traditional January slot to perhaps March, nearer the French Open and Wimbledon later in the year. 

“It’s encouraging that some of the major issues that concern the players are being looked at,” president of the ATP players council Todd Martin said on Tuesday.  

“They’ve been a theme in our consultations for some time and now we need to make sure we find some common ground.” 

Although no mention of the IMTA, formed by South African Wayne Ferreira and supported by world number one Lleyton Hewitt, was made at the ATP meeting, its formation is clearly a concern. 

Ferreira and his supporters held an earlier meeting at a Miami hotel to elect an executive committee and decide its strategy.  

Ferreira and fellow IMTA leader Laurence Tieleman of Italy claim their voices are not heard loudly enough in the ATP decision-making processes and they have called for the organisation to be more transparent about its finances. – Reuters  

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