Monday, May 7, 2007

The Empire Strikes Back

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

By Savannah

I'm sure no one expected the ATP to take the Hermitage 3+1 stance condemning the move towards Brave New World which would reduce the importance of Road to Roland Garros events like Monte Carlo and Hamburg while maintaining the back to back hardcourt events held in both March and August in the United States and Canada lying down. Joel Drucker from has posted an article calling the European players position, well, here's the opening paragraph:

Confusing athletic skill with intellect is dangerous. On the one hand, professional tennis players are nearly unanimous in their belief that the season is too long. Then again, who wouldn't like a shorter work schedule? On the other hand, when something close at hand is threatened, knee-jerk responses come to these fast-handed men and women quite easily.

Then there's this statement about and quote from Serena Williams.
Equally oblivious is Serena Williams, saying how upset she is that events on her home continent are shriveling.

"To grow the sport more in the United States, the tour should focus on tournaments in the United States," Williams recently told Reuters. "I think they're changing the schedule to cater to Europe and I don't like it. I don't like it at all."

Drucker does not put this in context. Amelia Island, a favorite of the women's tour, is in jeopardy as are other WTA events in the United States. Within that context Serena's statement makes sense but I don't think that's the goal here.

For the entire article go HERE

Then James Blake and Andy Roddick weighed in. Roddick is known to have signed the petition the European players presented to the ATP which is presumably lining someone's bird cage since the ATP never acknowledged receiving it. That was the reason the Europeans went public with their complaints but that won't get in the way of the campaign to make the Europeans, especially Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, look like whiny rich boys to the American public. When Blake can make a statement like this you wonder just what he was doing for two years in Harvard.

"Some players, myself included, don't have the same education and background as some of these tour managers or player representatives or the board members that have the job to do that," Blake said. "We have to trust them because we've elected them. We have to voice our opinions, there's nothing wrong with that, but we also have to understand that some people might have better ideas and better business savvy."

It was Roddick who trotted out the company line though.

"What no one is talking about is the finances of it," Roddick said. "This is not a knock on (Monte Carlo). The tournament is amazing, they run it great, the players love it. It's the most beautiful stadium we have.

"But if you get 70,000 people a week in Monte Carlo and then if you have a place like Cincinnati, it may be a little further out and a lot of Europeans don't like going there, but if the attendance is 180,000 and you're looking at it as a business model and who brings in the most revenue, when it's time to make cuts, that person is going to get cut."

The entire article is HERE

I've stated my opinions before on this topic but maybe I need to expand them a bit. I'm an American born and bred. I love the US Open Series and watch it faithfully. But I am a tennis fan too. I don't feel it's good to decide one surface is better than another just because your academies and coaches have no idea how to train their students on it. Each surface presents a challenge to a player. The skill set to excel on clay is not the same as the skill set required to excel on a hardcourt or grass, or rebound ace for that matter. And that is what makes the sport interesting. It's not always the same people winning all the time for the same reason.

I don't think the answer to your shortcomings is to pick up all your marbles and go home or changing the rules in mid stream so that your skill set, limited as it may be, will become the only one that counts. It's up to you to work hard and do your best to improve yourself on that surface.

The American ATP stars come into Rome as after thoughts. They have not played one clay court match this spring. No one expects them to do well or go deep in the tournament. There are already threads on fan sites asking how badly Gael Monfils, who has been struggling, will beat James Blake in their first round match. One of the more informed fans 3MLM posted Andy Roddick's stats on clay showing that he has a pretty decent record on the red stuff. You can find the post on

Yet despite all that no one expects to see him in the semis.

There is hope. The younger generation, Sam Querrey among them are playing in Europe. They're not going deep but they're trying. The results of their work will probably bear fruit in two years - 2009, just when, if Brave New World is adopted in its present form, clay will have been relegated to a quaint surface "those other people" play on.


Craig Hickman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig Hickman said...

I said I wasn't biting, but I changed my mind.

Here's what no one is talking about:

There are THREE clay-court seasons on the calendar. THREE. Not one, but THREE.

I repeat: THREE.

So, why aren't the Europeans clamoring for a TMS event in South America in the winter, where there's a clay-court season? Because they don't give a frick about South American clay-courters.

Or why aren't they clamoring for a TMS event in the claycourt season that exists in Europe after Wimbledon? Because the top players who are resting from Wimbledon wouldn't show up anyway.

The calendar is now and always has been a mess. I don't think the TMS events should be downgraded in Europe (well, then there's Hamburg). But I don't have the financial statements in front of me. I think the assumption that the proposed changes have only to do with American men's lack of impact the surface is a false one.

mmmm8 said...

So, my guess is... Arlen Kantarian is already fighting with the WTA, he wants to keep it warm and fuzzy with the ATP. So, that's the line Roddick and Blake are trotting. Which is not going to get them much love from their friends(?) on tour.

Hey, didn't some ATP players believed in Blake's education and background and trusted him to make decisions for them by electing him to the players' council?

Savannah said...

Rafa is going to make the South American swing next year (or he was until he won Indian Wells) so he is putting his money where his mouth is so to speak.

As I've said elsewhere today Blake mouthing inanities doesn't surprise me. Roddick's stance, so in line with the ATP's "official" stance does. I believe you are correct when you say we may have seen a cherry-picked comment from Andy.

I think m8's point is a good one about Kantarian. You can't fight a war with your, uh, flank vulnerable.

I'm changing the picture to "The Art of War" for some fairly obvious reasons.

Craig Hickman said...

Savanna is referring to this comment that I wrote and posted somewhere else earlier today:

Not exactly sure that Roddick's comments aren't neutral. He's simply commenting from the perspective of the business people, saying he understands it. But if he signed the petition to save Monte-Carlo as a TMS event, well, then, as a player, he wants the event to remain as is. No contradiction between his words and his actions. He does speak positively about Monte-Carlo, afterall.

And we don't necessarily have a transcript of his entire interview. We have what the author has chosen for us to read.

That said, I'm not sure Roddick has ever cared all that much about his perception in the locker room.

mmmm8 said...

It was said that all top 10 players signed the petition. Blake was in top 10 at the point.

Craig Hickman said...

I think this statement by Drucker deserves mention in this discussion:

"Federer might now be crying about historic Monte Carlo, but he hasn't seemed to [sic] despondent about being paid significant appearance fees to play in such desolate spots as Dubai and Doha. Surely he's aware that the ascent of these tournaments has come at the expense of other cities with far longer tennis histories."

Craig Hickman said...

I just noticed this, Savannah. Seems many unexpedtedy expect Roddick to make the semifinals in Rome:

Interesting, to say the least.