Should the Australian Open be played in March?

AP/Andy Brownbill, file

Should the Australian Open be played in March?

Let’s face it, the first three months of the tennis calendar do not make much sense.

You have the Australian Open kicking off in January, followed by some hard-court tournaments in February and then two big Masters 1000 tournaments back to back in March. The Miami Open and Indian Wells are now a staple in March and many people consider these two events as the most important outside of the four Grand Slams. That’s great and all, but they are not Grand Slams, and the fact that they live in March doesn’t make much sense.

Every other Grand Slam except the Australian Open has a series of tournaments on the Grand Slam surface of choice. The road to the French Open is filled with big-time clay-court tournaments such as Monte Carlo, Madrid, and Rome. Wimbledon doesn’t have as many grass-court warmup tournaments as the French Open, but the ones that are on the calendar lead up to the event. Then as soon as Wimbledon is over, all the players head to the US to play in the hard-court summer season before landing in New York for the last Grand Slam of the season.

So why can’t the “powers that be” provide the Australian Open with that kind of runway? It would make a heck of a lot more sense. I propose the following schedule. Let’s shift all the hard-court February tournaments such as Doha, Rotterdam, and Acapulco to January. We could start in sunny Acapulco instead of down under. Then both the Miami Open and Indian Wells would happen in the month of February. This would be a proper lead-up to the Australian Open which would then be played in March. It would also provide players with better preparation than what they currently have.

Right now, the offseason is not really an offseason. Players are currently training their butts off in preparation for the January 1st start of the ATP Cup and other tournaments in and around Melbourne. For years, pundits and experts have talked about the fact that players that don’t take time off during December are the ones that do well in Australia. Wouldn’t it make sense to give them a true off-season, and have them start nice and light in Acapulco?

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