Hewitt backs Asia as new Masters frontline

30th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 30, 2007 (AFP) - Lleyton Hewitt believes the planned expansion of the high-profile Masters series into Asia makes sense even if the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal aren't convinced.

PARIS, May 30, 2007 (AFP) - Lleyton Hewitt believes the planned expansion of the high-profile Masters series into Asia makes sense even if the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal aren't convinced.

Australian Hewitt has weighed into the row which has split the ATP after it emerged that the historic Monte Carlo claycourt tournament as well as the Hamburg event could be stripped of their Masters series status.

The four existing hardcourt Masters in North America, however, would remain.

"At the end of the day it's all about what's best for the sport. It's a tough call," said Hewitt.

"I know the clay court guys aren't probably happy if it cuts back one but, then again, if Asia is putting in a lot of money to get a tournament, we can't ignore that either."

Shanghai recently signed a deal to host a Masters series event after losing the season-ending Masters Cup from 2008.

Hewitt also leapt to the defence of Etienne de Villiers, the head of the ATP, who has come under fire for his desire to reform the schedule from 2009.

"He deserves a chance," said the Australian.

"He's done a lot better than the other bloke (predecessor Mark Miles). You are never going to please everybody and as long as he's looking after the players' best interests and then the fans, the sponsors and the tournament directors, then you can't blame him.

"The global market in Asia is huge. If there's the opportunity to have a big Masters series event there, it would be silly not to look at those options.

"When I've been in Shanghai for the Masters Cup, it's been fantastic there."

Hewitt even mischievously suggested a solution to the impasse.

"We should have a Masters series in Australia. I think we should put our hands up and there should be a Masters series on grass."

Hewitt was talking after beating former doubles partner Max Mirnyi 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in the French Open first round here on Tuesday.

The 14th seed will take on 2004 champion Gaston Gaudio of Argentina for a place in the third round.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article