The sport of tennis is steeped in tradition, and it’s unlikely that some of the major aspects of the sport will change. However, people have said that before, but the Open Era has proven that major change in tennis is possible. Currently, there are four grand slam tournaments that bring in the most revenue and viewership each year with the Australian Open, French Open, US Open, and Wimbledon.
While a fifth major wouldn’t make it a “grand slam” per se, the name could change to add a fifth major. While it’s not the most likely scenario, where could a fifth major be held? Here are the five countries which would be the most likely to host a hypothetical fifth major.
North America has a rich tradition and history with tennis, but people tend to think of the United States first. Canada would be one of the top choices for a fifth tennis major, especially as the nation hosts one of the oldest popular tournaments in the world, the Canadian Open. The tournament began play in 1881 and splits time between Montreal and Toronto. The Canadian Open is one of the ATP Tour Masters 1000, so it wouldn’t be a hard sell.
Even if a new fifth major wasn’t held in either of the two big cities, there are still plenty of places in Canada that have the capability of hosting such an event. Cities like Vancouver and Ottawa come to mind, though there is just one drawback: the weather. Ideally, a Canadian grand slam would have to be played between May and August. This would clash with some of the events like Wimbledon and the US Open.
Italy is another one of the countries which has an ATP Masters 1000 tournament but no grand slam event. Rome is host to the annual Italian Open, which has been played since 1930. That’s not the only city that has hosted significant ATP events, either, as Turin has hosted the ATP Finals. Either city would be a fantastic candidate for a tennis major.
Both cities have also shown that they’re capable of holding events that are even much larger than a tennis major, with Turin hosting a Winter Olympics in its past while Rome has hosted a Summer Olympics. The infrastructure is there, and Pala Alpitour in Turin is already the sixth-largest tennis venue in the world. It was initially designed for the Winter Olympics but was repurposed and selected to be the ATP Finals host on a lengthy contract.
There have been some top-notch tennis players to come from the Netherlands including Tom Okker, Kea Bouman, and Betty Stove. However, the country doesn’t have one of the grand slam events and doesn’t even have one of the ATP Masters 1000. In fact, they’ve never hosted one while countries like Germany and Sweden used to.
So what is it about the Netherlands that makes it a prime destination for a tennis major? For starters, the country is well-suited to have hundreds of thousands of visitors at any time, and the facilities are already there. The Netherlands is home to Rotterdam Ahoy, which is the fifth-largest tennis venue in the world. The nation holds ATP 250 and 500 tournaments, but it’s time for a step up.
Returning to countries that are hosting the largest non-major tournaments, China is home to the newest entry of the ATP Masters 1000 in the form of the Shanghai Masters. The event was first held in 2009 and is located at the Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena. Though COVID-19 travel restrictions put the Shanghai Masters on hiatus, it was clear that the ATP saw a future in China.
Even without Shanghai, there are plenty of places to host a grand slam event in China, especially after all of the infrastructure built for the multiple Olympics the country has held in the 21st century. National Tennis Stadium in Beijing is one of the 10 largest tennis venues in the entire world and has been home to the China Open since 2011.
The final country on the list is another one that has an ATP Masters 1000 but no major. The Madrid Open is newer than all Masters besides the Shanghai event, with the Madrid Open starting in 2002. Spain has a rich tennis history that makes it a perfect spot for a major, and the country already hosts several other ATP tournaments.
Spain’s largest tennis venue doesn’t quite stack up to some of the others, but the home of the Madrid Masters still seats 12,500 people. Spain has regions that don’t get awfully cold, either, allowing the country to be flexible with dates if a fifth major was added.