Australian Open boss lashes out over 'ridiculous' calls to move event

Craig Tiley has dismissed as 'bizarre' talks that the Australian Open could be the victim of a long-running tennis debate.

Craig Tiley looks on during the launch of the 2023 Australian Open.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has rubbished suggestions the tournament should start later in the year. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Craig Tiley has shot down suggestions the Australian Open could move to a different slot on the grand slam calendar. The idea has been floated in some tennis circles amid concerns about the length of the tennis season.

Having long-served as the opener of the grand slam season, Tiley said the notion of the Australian Open taking place at any other time than January was 'ridiculous'. It comes after comments from Australian star Alex de Minaur questioning whether the ATP and WTA needed to look into the length of the season.

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Tiley was perplexed by a report from Newscorp that speculated such a change could be in the works. He said the Australian Open was certain of its place on the calendar and there was not strong support to move it.

"I did read that, I thought it was absolutely ridiculous - a bizarre claim," Tiley said. "You talk to every player, this is the season. It starts in January. It starts here in Australia.

"Alex has a good point about the length of the season. The sport does need to get together and look at the length of it. It finishes with Davis Cup late on the men's side and not as late on the women's side but I do think it's a long season. We've been talking about that for a long time.

"But Australia is the summer, Australia is January and this event is, from the players' perspective, one of their favourite places to play. They're coming here earlier, we're now seeing players here for six weeks, for seven weeks and the preparation for the Australian summer is very normalised - they know what they need to do."

Injuries have sparked some of the discussion, with men's world No.1 Carlos Alcaraz withdrawing due to injury in a major blow for the tournament. Women's counterpart Iga Swiatek has also been working through some troublesome injuries but is expected to take part in the grand slam.

Craig Tiley and wife Ali, pictured here at the 2022 Australian Tennis Awards.
Craig Tiley and wife Ali at the 2022 Australian Tennis Awards. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

Australian Open preparation a matter for players: Alex de Minaur

Heat is unlikely to the the source of frustration it can typically be thanks to generally low temperatures across the East coast. However De Minaur said the number of injuries leading up to the first of the season's four grand slams should be a warning to the governing bodies of tennis.

"It's no secret the year's a very long year," de Minaur said. "You play tournaments throughout the whole year, you finish quite late. That depends on your schedule and everything.

"If there was a bit more time for an off-season, I'm sure a lot of players would like that. But at the same time we're kind of used to it.

Alex de Minaur celebrates after defeating Rafael Nadal at the United Cup.
Alex de Minaur got his 2023 season off to a triumphant start thanks to a thrilling victory over Rafael Nadal. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

"I've done it for a couple years where you finish quite late and then you get right into the midst of things. There's times along the year where you can choose to take a little bit of time off and that's probably the smartest thing to do. So I'll be looking at that."

Many competitors face a gruelling change in conditions, arriving from winter in Europe and the United States, but de Minaur said it was up to players to organise their pre-season and acclimatise to the heat. De Minaur, based in Spain, is among those who arrive in Australia early while others head to the Middle East.

With AAP

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