Tennis Australia is worried about their Grand Slam.
According to The Independent, Tennis Australia believe their Slam lacks the same "lustre", facilites, and corporate involvement as the other three majors and could cause them to lose it. But that's not the only reason:
The source added that Tennis Australia were "dead worried" about losing their slam, one of the reasons being that it does not have a unique surface. Both the US and Australian Opens are played on hard court, while Wimbledon and Roland Garros are played on grass and clay respectively.Tennis Australia has called in HOK Sport, a London-based architecture agency responsible for Wimbledon's forthcoming Centre Court retractable roof and London's 2012 Olympic stadium, to help with revamping the Australian Open's facilities including better transportation to and from Melbourne Park and the possibility of tearing down and rebuilding Rod Laver Arena which may look "out of date" next to Wimby's new retractable roof.
Despite the concern, there are no plans to change the surface – it was only relaid this year – or move the date of the tournament in light of arguments that such a big event is held too early in the season. Authorities want to keep the January fortnight because it coincides with local school holidays and the finals take place on Australia Day weekend.
Rod Sheard of HOK Sport was quoted as saying:
The Victorian government has recognised that the tennis facilities at Melbourne need to be updated to keep up with the other slams. We have been commissioned alongside [Australian architect] Cox to look at the site and prepare a master plan. The authorities are pretty open-minded on what we recommend, and we're looking at things like crowd flows, corporate facilities, relocating the entrance and improving links to other sporting facilities nearby.I agree the Aussie Open's current surface isn't unique but the biggest reason for its identity crisis is the timing. We're force fed major tennis before we're even ready - there's no real build up to the Slam, no "season", to get fans excited about the year's first major, especially the casual fan. Plus, the ballers have just come off a (very) short break and aren't usually playing their best stuff yet. If they're not fully engaged, how can we be?
It would be in everyone's best interest to give some breathing room at the start of the year. Will it happen? Who knows.
(image via Getty)