The Most Significant Calendar Changes in the 2014 Tennis Season
Perhaps the most anticipated tennis schedule change in recent history will be the three-week gap between the French Open and Wimbledon in 2015.
It's a sign that the tours are listening to players who have long advocated for more rest between major events. Next year, the ATP is incorporating a week-long break between the Paris Open and the year-end ATP World Tour Finals.
Meanwhile, several changes will take place on the 2014 schedule. Some tournaments have folded, making room for new stops on the tours.
The following are the most significant calendar changes for the 2014 season.
WTA Expanding Its Footprint in Asia
The WTA has tapped into a booming Asian market.
Committed to increasing its presence in Asia, the WTA announced it was adding a new international event in Hong Kong and a new Premier event in Wuhan in September 2014. That increases the number of tournaments in the Asia-Pacific region to 16.
This includes the WTA Championships. The year-end event, which had been held in Istanbul, will be played in Singapore from 2014-2018.
Rio Grande: City Gets Major Tournament
Rio De Janeiro will host the WTA and ATP in February, just weeks before Carnival.
The Rio Open will be the only combined ATP/WTA event held in South America. The tournament was moved from Memphis by sports promotion company IMX, which acquired the tournament with the intention of moving it to Rio.
Rio, site of the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2014 FIFA World Cup, is becoming quite the sports mecca.
The Rio Open will be played on red clay. It will be a premier-level event for the WTA and a 500-level event for the ATP. Memphis will host ATP events at the 250 level.
The move increases the footprint of both tours in South America.
Along with Rio, Bogota and Florianopolis (Brazil) will be international-level events on the WTA tour. It marks the first time that there will be three international events in South America for the first time in WTA history.
However, the tournament in Rio will have a tough time drawing big names from the women's tour. The prize money for men is about $1.3 million and only $250,000 for the women.
Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer have already committed to playing.
U.S. Farewell Tour
Several tournaments are closing up shop, including the WTA tournament in Palermo. However, most disturbing to American fans is the loss of events to South America and Asia.
Memphis is moving to Rio. The WTA's Carlsbad tournament is moving to Tokyo. The WTA's Stanford tournament will move to later in July to take the Carlsbad spot. Meanwhile, the Tokyo tournament will be played in September after the U.S. Open.
The ATP says goodbye to the long-running San Jose tournament. San Jose, which began in 1889 as the Pacific Coast Championships, was the second-oldest tournament in the United States.
The USTA objected to the move, fearing it would further damage professional tennis in the U.S. The USTA sent a letter to the ATP to no avail.
According to a report from Tennis.com, in 1980, there were 20 ATP tournaments played in the United States between mid-January and early May. In 2014 there will only be five.
On the Surface
There will be some surface changes in 2014. On the ATP tour, Acapulco will switch from clay to hard courts to help players better prepare for Indian Wells. Perhaps that's how they lured Andy Murray and John Isner to the tournament.
Nadal complained about the ATP World Tour Finals being held on hard courts and suggested the tour alternate surfaces.
Acapulco and Katowice (Poland) are switching from clay to hard courts. That leaves Stuttgart as the only indoor clay-court tournament on the WTA side.
WTA Spreads the Love: More Tiny Tournaments
In an effort to help emerging players and developing markets, the WTA continues to add small tournaments.
In 2012, the WTA introduced the concept of the smaller, 125-level tournaments. Since then, it has increased the number of these tiny tournaments from two to six in 2014.
The smaller tournaments are just a level above the top ITF circuit events. Because many of the big names skip these types of tournaments, rising players get an opportunity to earn extra cash, titles and more points.
In 2014, the 125K series stops in NanChang, China (July); Suzhou, China (August); Ningbo, China (September); Taipei, Chinese Taipei (November); Limoges, France (November); and Raanana, Israel (November).