This and That

The Weekend That Was

I only saw enough of the Laver Cup to know that the broadcast was in true HD, crystal clear and the viewer felt as though they were right there in the arena.

The black court looked gray but it had the desired effect. The players kits – Team Europe in blue and Team World in red – popped on the neutral background. The camera angles were out of this world. Maybe it’s time for the Slams, M1000, WTA PM and P5 events to look at installing netcams? It added a completely new dimension for the fans watching from home.

Usually exhibitions like this are tightly choreographed ahead of time and I didn’t think this would be any different but some tennisheads have pointed out to me that if that was the case why didn’t Tomas Berdych, playing in front of his home crowd, win anything? Some also talked about Nick Kyrgios being close to tears after his loss in the final match. There was no way Roger Federer was not going to win that final match and if Kyrgios had won, perhaps I’d back off my opinion about exhibitions.

What seems to have impressed many viewers was the camaraderie between the teams and that Team World (essentially team USA) despite being the obvious underdogs still supported each other emotionally. I wasn’t surprised about Rafael Nadal‘s reactions the way some seem to have been. He’s always there for team mates. That people were surprised may be a reflection of his not having played Davis Cup in awhile.

That said the Laver Cup creates some interesting challenges for professional tennis. I’m hearing the ATP had little to do with the event and that the exo a vanity project of Roger Federer’s. I don’t know since I wasn’t paying attention because of how I feel about exhibitions. In my opinion, the netcam is only one thing both the WTA and ATP have to look at. The ATP is in perfect position to adopt the broadcast standards of Laver Cup. I wouldn’t be surprised if at the Masters 1000 events we see netcams. The issue will be cost but the ATP is all for innovation.

Fans are also asking if the WTA will create it’s own version of the Laver Cup. At the same time they’re also talking about the things that could make that difficult. Let’s start with the disastrous roll out of WTATV, something I still won’t subscribe to because there is no guarantee my information is secure. There is no reason to think the WTA will be able to pull something like this together even if the roll out was scheduled for 2019.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks would be who the event would be named for? Rod Laver is an icon for most of the ATP but among the women you have Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Stefanie Graf, Monica Seles, Kim Clijsters to name just some of the past stars.

Where the event would be held is the next issue. Laver Cup 2018 has already been announced for Chicago, Illinois. Where would you hold the WTA event? Hopefully it wouldn’t be in an out of the way place difficult for fans to see or go to. Manchester in England? South Africa? Buenos Aires? Denver, Colorado? Austin, Texas?

Who would the sponsor be? We’ve seen what type of product the sponsors of Laver Cup were able to roll out. You don’t want to roll out a product that doesn’t at least equal what we just saw.

All of that has to be settled before you can even start choosing teams and captains. I would hope that team world for the WTA would be more representative of the world of tennis and not just a United States and Canada all star team.

It can be done. I don’t think the WTA could get it together for 2018. I’d like to be proven wrong.

End Notes

It’s interesting to me that all of a sudden people are noticing Sloane Stephens is not fit. It’s been obvious since her return that she was carrying a few extra pounds around the waist. Sloane has always liked the skin tight fit of Under Armour kits and all of a sudden she was wearing house coats.

The Asian swing is very important for both Stephens and Madison Keys to prove they’re ready to take their place as permanent threats at the top of women’s tennis. All of the PR in the world won’t matter if you’re losing first round. They’re not at the level of the Williams sisters where they can pick and chose where to show up. There’s talk of them both taking the rest of the year off. That would mean that they would show up for the YEC if they qualify and then the run up to the Australian Open. Not a good strategy in my opinion.

Bernard Tomic is playing qualies now. Maybe Tennis Australia has finally washed their hands of him.

Alexander Zverev is leading the charge of the Next Gen players. I don’t think he’ll play in Milan but that event looks like it’s going to be an exhibition featuring some experimental technology more than a true competition anyway.

Karolina Pliskova says she fired her long time coach because their visions of her game differed too much. As I type this she still hasn’t named a new coach. Ii hope she doesn’t think that someone can turn her into a great mover.

It’s good to see Vera Zvonareva making her way back to the main tour.

©2017 Savannahs World All Rights Reserved

I Didn’t Go

by Savannah

Qualie’s Week at the US Open is usually a must do for me. There are new players to see and evaluate. Practice sessions to watch. New foods to sample. This year there was also a new layout to walk through with the best 1-2 deal in tennis now gone. The changes were brought about by the new roof which I’ve seen in passing several times now and seeing it in the more relaxed and family oriented atmosphere should’ve been a thing.

And yet I didn’t go.

I looked over the Qualie draw for both men and women and found myself saying more than once “who are these people”? I think I follow tennis pretty well and usually there are one or two juniors, maybe more, that catch my eye and who I’d like to see but this year I have to say there aren’t many who’ve caught my attention.

I thought that maybe it was my fault. Maybe my resistance to hype is too high and I’ve been ignoring some phenom that’s going to set the world on fire. But that doesn’t seem to have been the case. I didn’t see much commentary from the professionals on Twitter about match play the past four days. Most of the commentary came from fans who were getting a chance to see their faves up close and personal. The pictures they posted were a prominent feature of Tennis Twitter. And that was it.

There was no excuse for me not to go weather wise either. It was perfect weather for me. Warm and breezy is my perfect summer day but I opted to stay home. And that worries me.

I write a tennis blog. Can I call myself a professional not professional fan? I guess. Tennis occupies a lot of my time and has for many years but I find myself struggling with boredom these days. It reminds me of when I took a long break from tennis a few years ago. There was just nothing happening for me back then and I feel that situation coming on for me again.

Maybe it’s because I see no inspiring games, no legit stars on the horizon? For it’s US Open issue the New York Times chose to profile Nick Kyrgios on it’s cover. The article is written by someone I’ve never seen do tennis for the Times before and features a photo of Kyrgios with his chain in his mouth, edgy gelled up hair and the sneer that is required of all young men these days who want to be famous.

The WTA? They’re pushing (hoping) Angelique Kerber will find a way to get to the number one ranking. I think if she’d done it prior to the US Open she’d be the one with her face plastered all over tennis oriented media. Their former top pick Eugenie Bouchard is too focused on suing the USTA per the USTA and not on playing her best tennis in New York again per the USTA. Who else do they have? Oh yeah, Petra Kvitova who said she’s not the one for long practices and that an hour is enough for her to prepare for a match, confirming what those who know her best have always said about her – that she’s lazy. Losing badly to Agnieszka Radwanska just before the Open was really good prep Petra.

And who is the above mentioned USTA flogging? The obnoxious Harrison brothers. Sam Querrey. A jingoistic Steve Johnson who dared the USTA to give former champion Juan Martin del Potro because he could beat an American in an early round and that would piss off a lot of American players.

Madison Keys ? After Kerber took her apart at the Olympics? It’s not that she was taken apart it’s how Kerber dismantled her and the fact that Keys had no answer, could not adjust to what was being done to her. But yet I see some picking her to win it all in New York. Amazing. There is also the diminutive Lauren Davis and the rich bitches who seem to be doing as best they can within the USTA system. I will say that Louisa Chirico has shown signs of not being beholden to the US powers that be though. The others seem doomed to ball bashing mediocrity.

But tennis is tennis. Who would’ve thought Rio would be the greatest tournament of 2016? Maybe I’m wrong in being so pessimistic about the future of the sport. I hope I am. My daughter and I have Grounds Passes for Monday and Wednesday.

©2016 SavannahsWorld All Rights Reserved

2016 Roland Garros: The Worst Ever

by Savannah

AP Christophe Ena photo 04a6034f-ec25-459f-9807-d53eb1e019a3_zpssjdkzrkj.jpg
via AP/Christophe Ena

Let me be clear. I’m only going to touch on the players if what happened to them bears on the general management of the tournament. Which, as the title of this post says, was abysmal.

There is nothing anyone can do about the weather. Anyone who cared to check knew that the rain that ended up flooding Paris and its environs, was going to affect play. How the Tournament Director, Guy Forget, handled the problem would show his ability, and biases, to the tennis world. It’s bad enough that Roland Garros has the worst website of any Slam. It doesn’t matter if you use a PC, MAC, or a mobile device the web site sucks. But in the long run that’s an issue that can easily be corrected if more than cursory attention is given to the site.

Roland Garros website is also the only one where player interviews are not easily accessible. The big shots of tennis journalism saw to that. They felt that with the proliferation of bloggers and information on line their jobs were in danger so interviews are hidden away somewhere on that site that I frankly don’t have the inclination to search for. I shouldn’t have to. I’ll be back to the ITWA later.

But back to the rain and Forget’s management of it.

Kudo’s to the tournament for canceling play early and putting ticket holders who bought their tickets from RG at the head of the line for next years ticket sale.

As for the players it was obvious from Forget’s comments that he didn’t give a rat’s ass about the WTA. His entire focus was on the ATP. When asked how the washout would affect play he responded “If players need to play two matches in two days,” Forget said, “I guess the guy who is more fit will win.” He also said that no ATP player would have to play more than two days in a row. Meanwhile the top half of the WTA draw had to play four straight days up to and including the Final. The option of moving the Women’s final to Sunday was never publicly considered. Still, when it came to scheduling the women were scheduled after the men, who would have an extra day, Saturday, to rest and prepare for a Sunday Final. I’m nit picking? Don’t the women only play best of three? It shouldn’t matter if they have to play four days straight right? It’s the men who play best of five and would suffer the most right?

The ATP seems to look for ways to diminish the woman’s game. The only male who was having issues with his early rounds was Andy Murray who had a draw that while not as much of a cakewalk as the ATP #1’s draw on paper was not that difficult. But the argument about the best of five men’s format always wins at Slams.

Anyway there was a significant delay on Tuesday, May 31 (Day 10) which saw the Order of Play changed twice. The first revision showed the women scheduled up first. Then it was changed and the men, including the ATP #1, saw their matches scheduled ahead of the women again before all matches were cancelled. On Day 11 the women were up first again. And the top half of the draw began it’s long march towards the Final that completed about an hour before I started this post. While all of this was going on there wasn’t one word from WTA management. It’s new head, Steve Simon, has only stirred himself to comment on how he feels about admitted doper Maria Sharapova. His players being treated like second class citizens didn’t appear to bother him in the least.

Bad Behavior

Try as they might TPTB of men’s tennis can’t cover up the true personality of their current top player. The two incidents that occurred during his match against his pigeon Tomas Berdych were eye opening and could’ve resulted in serious injury to a linesperson. The official line became that the blind racquet toss made by the #1 was a slip, that the racquet slipped out of his hand and without the agility of the linesman involved would’ve meant he’d have to be disqualified. I’m not sure you can still find the video online since the person who originally posted it got upset at fan reaction to what looked to be an intentional throw of the racquet.

I wonder what David Nalbandian and Guillermo Coria thought about the non action taken against the ATP #1? We know what would’ve happened if say Nick Kyrgios had done the same thing.

The other incident was during the same match. The ATP #1 was actually being pressed by Berdych and slipped on the court. He immediately asked for the match to be suspended. The chair, Eva Moore, didn’t do what he wanted as he went to his seat and began to pack up his things. Berdych took up the argument with Moore and as the tournament official walked on court the ATP #1 walked off court. The official told Berdych to step inside the tunnel for about five minutes until the shower passed. The other men’s match, between David Goffin and Dominic Thiem, continued on Court Suzanne Lenglen.


End Notes

There’s been a lot of criticism of Marion Bartoli for revealing that Serena Williams was suffering from an adductor injury. “Betrayal of the locker room” seems to be the going reason for condemning Bartoli’s “faux pas”. Serena is the WTA #1. An adductor injury is going to affect her movement and ability to put some heft behind her shots as well as how she serves. Yet Marion is being raked over the coals for revealing the injury. If the ATP #1 was carrying a comparable injury wouldn’t it be made public?

Those of us who have followed Venus Williams and Serena Williams over the years know they are very reluctant to reveal injuries. They’ve gotten better in recent years but Venus has been wearing a wrap on her thigh for quite some time. Serena’s wrap was hidden under the leggings she wore against the chill in Paris.

It seems to me that the criticism of Bartoli is coming from the ITWA members who want to keep a stranglehold on access to and information about tennis players. Don’t get me wrong I get it. You can’t have fanboys and girls running rampant in the locker room. By the same token you can’t have a stranglehold on information that fans want to read. Tennis is the only sport that gives the reporters who ask questions at pressers complete anonymity. No other sport does that. It’s time for tennis to get away from the country club mentality and find a way to open the flow of information to fans. David Goffin had a press conference after a win this week where only one question – one – was asked in English. As a fan I want to know more about him but the US press is content to continue to write about him as if he is an international man of mystery.

Not all bloggers are fanboys and girls. It’s time to stop punishing those who are working hard to get information to fans without compromising professionalism.

©SavannahsWorld 2016 All Rights Reserved