Federer endorses "happy slam" Melbourne
World No.1 Roger Federer has backed the Australian Open to retain its grand slam status for at least the next 20 years, despite Spain and China's eagerness to host one of tennis's four annual majors.
Federer, who last year famously labelled the Australian Open as "the happy slam", said while it was impossible to suggest Australia would be home to a major "forever", other countries would have to wait.
"I don't see a change in the near future, talking about the next 20 years," he said on the eve of the 103rd Open commencing at Melbourne Park on Monday.
"For me, it's an obvious choice. It's been here for a long time now.
"Maybe the Australian Open went through some times when not all the players travelled here, like Agassi, Connors, all these guys. They didn't come here.
"Back then, it was also more difficult to travel so far because the planes weren't up to the standard yet and it was just too far for one tournament.
"Now, with the airlines being so good, I think this will be no problem any more. It will be okay for the years to come.
"I don't see why it should change. It's a great grand slam, great facilities, one of the best in the world.
"So I think they deserve it. They've been able to maintain great crowds and a great event for us players."
The Spanish are reportedly pushing to buy the grand-slam rights to host a second claycourt major in addition to the French Open, while the growth of tennis in Asia makes China an obvious option going forward.
"Sure, but you need some history as well, and the history lies here," Federer said.
"We all know the grand slam history is the biggest ... next to some other tournaments in Europe which have been around for a very long time, and it's important to keep those tournaments as well.
"China's going to get their tournament in Shanghai, it seems like in the future. I think they can't complain too much. They had the Masters Cup there. They're going to get a Masters Series.
"There will always be little changes, but I think the grand slams should stay where they are."
Federer's only gripe with the Australian Open was that its switch this year to Plexicushion from Rebound Ace will give the tournament its fourth different court surface.
"I don't care, seriously. As long as it's hard court," Federer said. "(But) I think it's not good to change surfaces at the grand slams because what if the French would all of a sudden go to hard court?
"It's not the same tournament any more. They've changed the surface too many times in the last years I think here. So they better keep this one for the next 50 years."
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