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Calendar of the court: The six seasons of the tennis year

By Helen Chandler and Paul Gittings, for CNN
  • The world's top tennis players face a variety of different challenges over the year
  • Season is divided into six distinct phases based around four grand slam events
  • Players must conquer hard, clay, grass and indoor courts to be the best
  • CNN takes a look at some of the highlights to watch for as the tennis year unfolds

(CNN) -- To reach the very top, the world's elite tennis players have to show their versatility by winning at venues around the world, in differing climates and on a variety of different surfaces.

From the heat of Australia to the clay of Paris, the rain of Wimbledon and the intensity of the U.S. hard courts, the stars of the game have to adapt to a series of different challenges throughout the year in order to be the best.

The season is focused upon the four grand slam tournaments in these locations, but in reality is split up into six distinct phases where players strive to triumph at the biggest events and claim the maximum amount of ranking points.

With the tennis calendar now in full swing following the first major of 2011 in Melbourne, CNN takes a closer look at the season and picks out the rest of the events to watch out for as the year unfolds.