WTA to revise Tour schedule in effort to reduce player injuries

The Women's Tennis Association is to change its rules and bring forward plans for a revision of its Tour schedule in response to a record number of withdrawals by leading players from tournaments because of injuries and fatigue.

The top players have long complained that their calendar is too punishing and figures released yesterday supported their case. Withdrawals from the Tour's most important events by top 10 players have increased by 72 per cent over the last five years.

This season alone there have been 31 withdrawals, compared with 13 last year, while for the first time ever not one of the leading 10 tournaments could boast a field that lived up to the WTA's commitment to provide at least six of the top 10 players.

The WTA promised to introduce short-term rule changes next year in an attempt to lessen the burden on the top players. In the longer term, the organisation plans to bring forward by a year its "Roadmap 2010" plan, which will reduce the number of tournaments the leading players are required to enter from 13 to 11 and introduce a longer closed season, beginning in October.

Maria Sharapova, whose summer was disrupted by injury, said she looked forward to the changes being implemented.

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