Canada considers combining events

TORONTO -- Tennis Canada is considering a plan to combine the ATP and WTA events in Toronto and Montreal into one tournament featuring men and women playing at both venues in the same week, starting in 2011.

Under the plan, each city would stage one half of the men's main draw and one half of the women's.

Montreal and Toronto would stage one final apiece, meaning one of the men's and one of the women's finalists would switch cities, making the one-hour trip by private jet.

The idea has been met with mixed reaction by players.

Allaster said men's world No. 1 Roger Federer had given the plan a thumbs up when they discussed it last week in Montreal but top-ranked woman Dinara Safina was less enthused.

"Better they keep it like is now," said Safina, following her second-round loss in the Rogers Cup to Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai on Wednesday. "It's completely different going to another final.

"Somebody is used to playing here and suddenly you have to fly to Montreal. It is better they think one more time about this because I
don't think it's a great idea," she said.

Currently the tournaments are run on consecutive weeks with the men's and women's events alternating between Montreal and Toronto each year.

Last week the ATP Tour event in Montreal, won by Andy Murray, set a single-event attendance record with more than 200,000 spectators taking in the action.

But despite the success of the Canadian events, the ATP and WTA are pushing for more combined tournaments, which they believe are key to growing the sport.

"We really looked at what's driving the business, and without question the business is really thriving when men and women are combined," Stacey Allaster, the CEO of the WTA Tour, said. "You look at our Grand Slams, you look at our top events like Miami, Indian Wells, those are combined platforms.

"Tennis Canada has had a long history of thinking outside the box," the Canadian Allaster added.