Below are the key changes the WTA have outlined for the 2009 season. I’m amazingly disappointed to see that they are now going to allow on court coaching, this has to be the biggest mistake a sports organisation has ever made!
– 30% increase in off-season (from 7 to 9 weeks, with season to end in October)
Streamlined Calendar Structure
– 20 Premier events featuring top players (reduced from 26 Tier I/II events previously), including:
+ 4 Premier, mandatory, $4.5 million equal prize money combined events anchoring calendar in Indian Wells, at Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Mutua Madrilena Madrid and China Open in Beijing
+ 15 other Premier events, including $2 million tournaments in Dubai, Rome, Cincinnati, Toronto and Tokyo, and other top events in Paris, Charleston, Stuttgart, Stanford, Los Angeles, Sydney, Berlin, Eastbourne, New Haven and Moscow
+ Season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha, featuring equal prize money of $4.45 million
– 30 International tournaments, culminating in season-ending Commonwealth Bank International Tournament of Champions
– Longer off-season, and more in-season breaks for players (e.g., post-Wimbledon)
– Player commitment reduced by 23%, from 13 to 10 tournaments for top players
– Limitation on top player ability to play tournaments outside of 20 Premier events
Record Prize Money
– 39% increase in Tour prize money from 2006 – 2009
Equal Prize Money
– Equal prize money at 4 Grand Slams, 4 Premier cornerstone events (Indian Wells, Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Mutua Madrilena Madrid, China Open in Beijing), Barclay Dubai Tennis Championships in Dubai, and year-end Sony Ericsson Championships
– $710 million in new stadium facility investments, including world-class new stadiums in China and Madrid
– $84 million in year-end Sony Ericsson Championships deals in Doha 2008-2010 and Istanbul 2011-2013
More Combined/Back-to-Back Events
– 31% of events will be combined men/women
– 46% of events will be either combined or back-to-back in 2009
– Tennis’ first ever revenue sharing to see players share in tournament revenue growth, and link player commitment to increases in prize money
– Major Tour presence and expansion into China market, with China Open as one of the four cornerstones of the Roadmap calendar, and a new Asia-Pacific Tour HQ in Beijing
New Ranking System
– Best 16 results and more directly linked to the Tour’s top events by awarding of “zero pointers” for any missed Premier commitment tournament, Grand Slam or the Sony Ericsson Championships
– Suspension system for Top-10 players who miss Premier commitment tournaments and increased withdrawal fines
The 2009 Tour calendar features 54 tournaments (inclusive of the four Grand Slams) across 31 countries and record prize money of over $86 million.
The international breadth of tournaments includes 25 events in Europe, 15 events in the Americas and 14 events in the Asia-Pacific region. Seventeen combined events include Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing, Sydney, Moscow, Eastbourne, New Haven, Brisbane, s’Hertogenbosch, Estoril, Memphis and Acapulco, along with the four Grand Slams.
Eight back-to-back men/women events include Dubai, Tokyo, Rome, Cincinnati, Canada, Auckland, Bastad and Warsaw. 2009 will also see new tournaments in Madrid, Brisbane, Monterrey, Ponte Vedra Beach, Bastad, Warsaw and Osaka. Additionally, in 2011 Rome, Cincinnati and Canada will all be combined men/women events.
On Court Coaching
The 2009 Roadmap calendar will also feature on-court coaching at all events, following approval by the Tour Board at its US Open meeting of this fan entertainment innovation.
The decision to implement on-court coaching follows extensive testing of the concept and strong support from broadcasters, sponsors and tournaments and majority support from the Tour’s Players’ Council.
Under the new rule, players can request their coach once per set, either on a changeover or at the end of a set. In addition, a player may request her coach if her opponent has requested a medical timeout or change of attire/toilet break. All coaches called on court during televised matches will be required to wear a microphone to capture the coaching conversation for TV viewers.