Tennis flexed its muscles this week wreaking havoc and order with its words and deeds…
5. Like Donald Trump, Steve Simon, CEO of the WTA, seems to have mastered redirection. Last year at the WTA Finals in Singapore he said, “… we have to make some fundamental changes in the calendar and our approach to it.” The headline from his interviews in Wuhan this week is matches need to be shorter. He has proposed no-ad scoring or match tie-breaks in singles play. Though WTA matches are far shorter than ATP matches, he asserts that this change is essential for fans and TV. There are many problems in tennis and with women’s tennis specifically, but the length of WTA matches is not one of them. If match length is an issue, wouldn’t court surfaces, balls and the rulebook also be fair game for review? He seems to be playing a game of shells, constantly moving the tour here and yonder without ever truly addressing core issues.
Even more baffling is his proposed calendar changes. His overhaul would eliminate the current tournament structure (WTA Finals, Premier Mandatory, Premier 5, Premier, and International events) and increase the number of Premier Mandatory events (Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing). In essence, he wants to eliminate small tournaments and increase the big ones pushing player required play from four to eight tournaments. The scoring and calendar changes will not be implemented before 2018-9. Oh vey!
4. It has always been clear that many American tennis players are republican. However, the twitter beefs between them and other players who are not spewing Trump propaganda was insane this Presidential Campaign. This may force Isner and Harrison off social media!
3. Think Progress’ Lindsay Gibbs is tracking the Kaepernick effect via a timeline of anthem protests. Though tennis does not adhere to this ritual, likely due to its global roster of players, it will be interesting to see how players address or avoid the ‘controversy’. Serena Williams has certainly been on the receiving end of institutional racism, colorism, and microaggressions as a public and private citizen, so it was gratifying to read that she would not remain silent in the face of what some are calling modern-day lynchings, ie police violence. Williams also joined a small group of who’s who in entertainment and sports (including Sharapova) to invest in UFC. Her portfolio also includes a small stake in the Miami Dolphins.
2. Djokovic‘s latest press statement is not headline news. ”I psychologically felt huge pressure, and now I’m no longer thinking about the number of titles. If they come, super, I will accept them. After all, tennis is not the only thing in the world.” It was like saying water is wet and I am going to attempt to stay dry. Come-on, journalists, dig-in tell us some unique stories. Note I said unique not fabricated.
1.The Wuhan final will feature lefty Kvitova and small powerhouse Cibulkova. Kvitova has the head-to-head advantage and she has a solid history in this tournament so Cibulkova will have to come out roaring and ready to dig her heels to return big serves and forehands, but if she can exploit Kvitova’s movement and likely fatigue she may have a chance. This will be don’t miss tennis! UPDATE 10/1 Kvitova was on fire defeating Cibulkova 6-1, 6-1 in sixty-three minutes.
BONUS–Selected Ball Kids from Roland Garros serve at Wuhan Open