Sharapova backs joining men's season finale
Updated: 2011-10-27 10:59
Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return to Li Na of China during their WTA tennis championships match in Istanbul, October 26, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
ISTANBUL - Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki, the former and current world number ones, would welcome the WTA Championships moving to join the men's end-of-season showpiece.
The women's Tour, while thriving commercially, has struggled to match the exposure of a men's game enjoying a golden generation of players and WTA chief Stacey Allaster spoke this week of her support for a joint event.
While initial impressions of the WTA Championships' debut in Istanbul's huge Sinan Erdem Arena, where it will remain until 2013, have been positive, Sharapova believes the tournament would sit well next to the men's ATP World Tour finals which are staged in London at the end of November.
"It would definitely be nice to see," Sharapova told reporters. "I think that would be a lot more fun for the fans to see the men and women together."
Scheduling would be a major hurdle, however, with the men's season stretching a month longer than the women's. "I think right now our schedules are pretty far off," Sharapova said.
"They have another couple of weeks until they play their Champs, so unless they make some drastic schedule changes I don't see that happening very soon. But it would be nice all the same."
World number one Wozniacki, whose lack of a grand slam title is used as stick to beat the WTA Tour over its quality, said aligning the men's and women's games could hold advantages for both.
"I think that would be great," she said. "Just not in December. The men should definitely cut their season if that was to happen, but I think that would be a good idea."
Asked if there was a danger the women's year-ender would suffer by comparison with the men's event, which this year features Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, she said it would not be a problem.
"I think we have some very good players and some very big names, as well," she said.
"I know they have obviously Rafa and Roger and Novak and Murray really dictating most of it, but at the same time you can just see out there today we also have a lot of fans coming and watching us."
On the eve of the Championships, Allaster said she was in favour of combined non-Grand Slam events like those at Miami and Indian Wells. "They are very successful for our sport," Allaster said. "There's no doubt that fans enjoy seeing men and women compete on the same stage.
"We've talked about combining the two year-end championships, but there's no easy solution with our calendar and the guys' calendar."