The heart of the concept is a new tennis series -- the U.S. Open Series -- that will string together 10 existing hard-court tournaments, including Washington's annual Legg Mason Tennis Classic. Players will not only compete for each tournament's victory, but also contend for the series championship that will be crowned on the eve of the U.S. Open.
The hope is to bring coherence to what has been a fragmented sport and make it easier for fans to get hooked on the game. By creating a six-week summer series, the USTA is providing a narrative designed to link one tournament to the next, making each week's event a sequel to the one that preceded it. And in securing a national TV deal, the USTA hopes fans will develop consistent viewing habits, knowing where to look for matches without thinking.
"The inherent problem for the last decade has really been a lack of consistency -- not just for tennis fans but for sports fans -- to know when and where tennis is broadcast," [Jeff Newman] said yesterday. "The USTA is making a great attempt to unify the sport and make it accessible to fans."
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