Women’s boss wants WTA Fi­nals to close sea­son

Global Times - Weekend - - SPORTS -

Women’s Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Si­mon said he wants the WTA Fi­nals to be­come the last event of the sea­son from 2019, mean­ing a likely swap with the on­go­ing Elite Tro­phy in Zhuhai.

Si­mon said the Elite Tro­phy, which fea­tures 12 play­ers ranked roughly from nine to 20, should pre­cede the WTA Fi­nals, the tra­di­tional sea­son fi­nale which has the women’s top eight and which fin­ished on Sun­day.

“Sev­eral years ago they were flipped,” Si­mon told re­porters at the $2 mil­lion Elite Tro­phy in Zhuhai, South China’s Guang­dong Prov­ince.

“It is some­thing I would like to see changed go­ing for­ward. It won’t hap­pen in 2018 but for ’19 and be­yond it would be my goal to see the WTA Fi­nals as the last event of the year, no ques­tion.

“I think it’s some­thing that we have to fix long term.”

Former world No.1 Caro­line Woz­ni­acki won the WTA Fi­nals in Sin­ga­pore on Sun­day, but this week’s less pres­ti­gious Elite Tro­phy will now round off the ar­du­ous women’s sea­son.

Si­mon said he had no plans to cut back on the busy end-of-year sched­ule, which is fo­cused on Asia and is of­ten hit by a spate of in­juries and re­tire­ments as the long sea­son takes its toll.

Si­mon ad­mit­ted that the tour had a “crowded and ma­ture cal­en­dar,” but he said scrap­ping Zhuhai, or any other Asian tour­na­ment, was not nec­es­sar­ily the an­swer.

“What sport do you play where at the end of the sea­son play­ers aren’t tired, they’re not held to­gether by tape, ice and as­pirin?” he quipped.

“Based upon the in­vest­ments that have been made it’s very hard to tell some­body we don’t want you any­more... That can hurt you too.

“So you have to re­spect the in­vest­ment that’s been made and see how you can get cre­ative and make it work.”

Zhuhai has built a new ten­nis cen­ter with a 5,000-seat cen­ter court, while Wuhan has a main sta­dium for 15,000 spec­ta­tors, sim­i­lar to Wim­ble­don. The Tian­jin Open also has a pur­pose-built fa­cil­ity.

Si­mon said China had “a great de­sire” to de­velop in ten­nis, fol­low­ing Li Na’s break­through achieve­ment in win­ning two Grand Slam sin­gles tour­na­ments be­fore re­tir­ing in 2014.

Photo: VCG

Kristina Mlade­n­ovic of France hits a re­turn in her match against Ju­lia Go­erges of Ger­many dur­ing the WTA Elite Tro­phy Zhuhai 2017 at Hengqin Ten­nis Cen­ter on Fri­day in Zhuhai, South China’s Guang­dong Prov­ince.

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