Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
With a new mini-Wimbledon tournament set for Halle in Germany as from 2014, Eastbourne’s annual event could be under threat.
However, that all depends on when the planned grass court tournament in Germany takes place.
Ralf Weber, the current Halle tournament director, has gone on record that he aims to introduce a WTA Tour competition to the current annual ATP Tour event.
Mr Weber explained that he wants to host a combined event as from 2014, although he admits that the facility must be expanded – and possibility dates altered.
Eastbourne’s annual tournament is sponsored by AEGON until 2013, so it is no coincidence that Mr Weber has set his plans for 2014 to corner the market for a high profile Wimbledon warm-up event.
Stacey Allaster, the WTA Tour chief, admits that Mr Weber’s representatives have been involved in talks about a combined grass court tournament in Halle.
The ATP (Tour) already has a tournament there and we have had very productive discussions – we hope that it works.