Tennis-Unrest over 2009 WTA playing commitments

LINZ, Austria Tue Oct 21, 2008 5:04pm BST

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LINZ, Austria Oct 21 (Reuters) - French Open champion Ana Ivanovic and Polish number one Agnieszka Radwanska have called on their fellow players to band together and fight new rules that limit where they can play in 2009.

Although part of the WTA's new Roadmap is designed to reduce the number of tournaments and shorten the season, it also dictates that top 10 players must compete in at least 10 of the 20 Premier events - previously known as Tier 1 and 2 tournaments - and the four grand slams. All of the top 10 players must play the tournaments held at Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing.

"We do have our voice and we have to come together," Ivanovic said at the Linz Open. "The changes were made in the middle of the season and when you're playing grand slams you don't really want to think about next year's schedule.

"Many players probably didn't look deep into it and kind of let it go, and all of a sudden you're there with the change so it's a little bit hard. We're all in the same position so we have to talk more between us.

"I do believe it's going to be a lot of tournaments we have to commit to and it's maybe going to be a little bit harder in that sense. We don't have much opportunity to choose, and at the end of the day it might be that we play more matches than we did in previous years.

"I think it's good that tournaments will have guaranteed players and week after week have top players competing against each other. I think that's good for women's tennis. But on us individually it's tough to say what impact it's going to have."

Radwanska is particularly unhappy that she will not be allowed to play the smaller tournaments, previously known as Tier 3 and 4 events and now re-named as the International series.

"After the new rules with the WTA I don't want to be top 10 because the rules are so bad and everything is for the WTA," she protested. "I cannot play the small tournaments and it's quite bad. I hate these rules. I can play just two small tournaments a year.

"We're all saying this, but the WTA is doing everything for themselves, for the sponsors, but they don't realise we have to choose where we want to play and not want to play." (Editing by Justin Palmer)

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