LONDON -- The tennis grass-court season will be extended to six weeks, starting in 2015, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) announced Monday.
The decision, taken during meetings last week in London by the men's sanctioning body, will put a three-week gap between the end of the French Open and the start of Wimbledon.
That period, plus the grand slam fortnight and the Newport event in the U.S., will total six weeks on the lawns and give players a longer run-up to Wimbledon instead of the two-week change in effect for decades.
The 2015 ATP calendar will feature 62 tournaments in 31 countries across six continents. "The ATP World Tour is a truly global sports property, and demand for tournaments around the world is high, which reflects the strength of our product and the growing popularity of our sport," said ATP boss Chris Kermode, who formerly ran the Queen's Club tournament and the year-end championships in London.
"The extended grass-court season, with additional rankings points at stake, is a positive step forward.
"One of our assets as a sport is to provide for variance across playing surfaces throughout the season, so the strengthening of the grass-court season is a significant enhancement for the overall calendar."
Filling the grass space will be tournaments in Germany, the Netherlands and Britain, with the west London date at Queen's and Halle in Germany getting upgrades in points and prize money to 500-level events.
The 2015 grass season will start June 8, 2015, the day after the French Open final, in 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, and Stuttgart, Germany, which is already converting from clay.
The second week will feature the Queen's and Halle events while the week before Wimbledon will host a men's ATP competition shifted from Eastbourne to Nottingham in England plus women at Eastbourne, their third week of play on grass.
Marketing demands makes organizing the tour a challenging process. China now hosts ATP events at all three tour levels -- 250, 500 and Masters 1000 -- at Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai.
The Rio event being played for the first time this month, begins a new four-week South American swing.
But despite continual complaints from players over the crowded schedule, the ATP will shoehorn in another clay tournament into a busy May week, adding an as-yet-unknown venue to the week already occupied by Oeiras, Portugal, and Munich, Germany.
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