Thursday, October 30, 2008

This and That

by Savannah

The Race to Shanghai
Congratulations to Andy Roddick on his qualifying for Shanghai. Let's hope all those rumors about him not going even if qualified are put to rest. I have to say Andy played very well today against the guy who has been the hottest player of the indoor season.
Here are the latest standings after this mornings play in Paris. It was morning for us on the East Coast of the United States.

01 (01) Rafael Nadal (ESP) 1325 (15) PAR R3
02 (02) Roger Federer (SUI) 1031 (--) PAR R3
03 (03) Novak Djokovic (SRB) 929 (03)
04 (04) Andy Murray (GBR) 674 (15)* PAR R3
05 (05) Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) 433 (22) PAR R3
06 (06) Andy Roddick (USA) 394 (22) PAR QF
07 (07) Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) 369 (08)*
08 (08) Gilles Simon (FRA) 356 (20)

09 (09) David Ferrer (ESP) 339 (15)
10 (10) James Blake (USA) 335 (15) PAR QF

11 (12) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 315 (05) PAR QF
12 (11) Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 302 (03)
13 (14) David Nalbandian (ARG) 300 (20) PAR QF
14 (13) Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) 284 (12)
15 (15) Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 283 (15) PAR R3
16 (16) Gael Monfils (FRA) 279 (--) PAR R3
17 (17) Robin Soderling (SWE) 265 (11)
18 (18) Nicolas Almagro (ESP) 254 (08)
19 (19) Igor Andreev (RUS) 249 (10)
20 (23) Tomas Berdych (CZE) 243 (08) PAR R3
Ironic that both Gilles Simon and
Juan Martin del Potro went out on the same day. Looks like David Nalbandian isn't ready to reliquish his status as top dog in Argentina doesn't it?

It occurred to me while watching the day session matches that France all of a sudden has a lot of guys making a lot of noise on the tour. The Anointed One is not among them. Many of the players making noise now have suffered from injury over the past couple of years and are now healthy. Maybe the Anointed will take the rest of the year to think seriously about what he wants and what it's going to take to get it. No one is handing anyone anything on a silver platter in the ATP. Guys are out there biting and clawing each other in their race to become the best. The Anointed One is going to have to do the same thing.

The Gift That May Keep On Giving

No I'm not talking about that special itch you can only get in Paris. I'm talking about Brave New World, the gift Etienne de Villiers and the ATP board are leaving for the men's tour. I've been blogging against what is now called Brave New World and the WTA Roadmap for a long time now. I'd stopped because it seemed as if I was the only call calling bullshit about the proposed changes. Now that the season is winding down it seems fans are starting to pay attention and ask questions. On just about every tennis fan site questions are being asked about the feasibility of both plans.

Over on Talk About Tennis a long time fan who goes by the name of "Moose" started a thread called
The RADICAL Change Coming to ATP Rankings based on an article from the online paper Globe and Mail with the same headline. Many fans have done analyses of just what the changes will mean especially for that player on the verge of the top 100 who has used the traditional route of playing Challengers to boost his ranking. It appears that those players are going to get screwed and banished to a second tier tour with a point distribution and ranking structure that will make it virtually impossible for them to advance into the upper echelons of the mens tour.
But wait, Justin Gimelstob has taken it on himself to explain it all. You heard me. The same man who said that his brother should take care of
Anna Kournikova and not in a nice way responded to the article.

Tom, I appreciate your desire to gain understanding of the new points system. I see the points you emphasized in your article but this was our thinking in implementing the new system.

1. Our main goal was to simplify the points system so people could understand it better; the old system had too many layers that few but tennis insiders could comprehend. The new system has a clear differentiation between tournament categories, obviously each lower category has half of its higher category.

2. We wanted to put a premium on winning tournaments and reward the winner more significantly. Therefore the finalist went from getting 70% of the winner's points to 60%.

3. After that we went to work to try and find similar values in point distribution. Obviously it wasn't possible to accomplish that exactly but we did the best we could. Thus getting to the finals of a 500 is equivalent to getting to the semis of a 1000 (similar to what we have right now). Same is true with other rounds.

4. There is no doubt that players that win events at any level will be rewarded generously and have a chance to make significant gains in the rankings but that could be offset by high-ranked players being required to use four 500-level events in their ranking and thus needed to maintain a ratio of success/accomplishment to prevent adversely effecting their ranking.

I see your points, I hope you can see our logic and intention as well. As I am sure you know making changes in a tradition-based sport is always challenging, but our intent was to help fans relate and follow our sport while rewarding players that win tournaments, the ultimate goal of any player."

Regards, Justin

Don't you feel all better now? I know I don't. Under this system we'll always see the same guys at the top events. No one will be able to break through and make a surprising run deep into a major since they won't have the ranking that will let them.

I'm sure there are people in the ATP hierarchy who think they can act as if the reaction to what Gimselstob said was much ado about nothing. In my opinion anyone who thinks the way to retaliate against a woman he doesn't like is to perpetuate sexual violence against her should not be on the board of any organization and should definitely not be trotted out as a spokesman for it's actions.

Late Breaking News



Nine year run marked by unparalleled growth of the US Open, launch of the US Open Series, new innovations for the sport, and acquisition of pro tournaments
Kantarian to work with USTA on succession plan…..planning to step down at year-end

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., October 30, 2008 – Arlen Kantarian, CEO of Professional Tennis, announced today that he is moving on from his role after nine years of record growth for the USTA and the US Open. Kantarian has agreed to work closely with USTA on a succession plan, and is planning to step down at year-end.

Kantarian, a former NFL and Radio City executive, joined the USTA in March, 2000, in the newly created position of Chief Executive, Professional Tennis. During that time, Kantarian spearheaded a new generation of unparalleled growth for the USTA, building the US Open into the highest attended annual event in the world, while increasing its revenues over 80%. This year’s US Open was the most successful in its 40 year history, breaking all previous records for revenues and attendance. In addition, Kantarian developed and launched the highly successful Olympus US Open Series, creating a ‘regular season’ of tennis in North America, linked to the US Open. The Series has doubled viewership and has redefined the television and sponsorship model for the sport.

Kantarian has brought several other innovations to the sport, including the introduction of instant replay with player challenges, the prime-time US Open Finals, live entertainment, and the transformation from green to blue courts – now being embraced by schools and parks across the country. Under Kantarian’s leadership, the USTA secured new television deals with CBS, ESPN, and Tennis Channel which will provide an unprecedented 400 hours of live television coverage in the U.S. next summer.
"I have enjoyed one of the finest rides in sports and entertainment for the last 25 years – with the NFL, Radio City, and the USTA,” said Kantarian. “We have now accomplished all that we set out to do at the USTA, and I attribute that to one of the finest staffs in the business. The best time to move on is when the business is at an all-time high, and a solid foundation has been built for the future. I have no doubt the US Open, Olympus US Open Series, and the sport of tennis will continue to prosper and grow. Meanwhile, I am committed to working with the USTA to ensure a successful transition. And then, some time off with family before taking on the next challenge.”

“Arlen’s leadership and vision have led to the tremendous growth of the US Open and the sport over these last nine years,” said Jane Brown Grimes, Chairman and President of the USTA. “His unique talents have made the US Open the highest attended annual sporting event in the world, and the Olympus US Open Series one of the most exciting breakthroughs for the sport. More importantly, Arlen has helped spark a resurgence in the growth and popularity of professional tennis, and has provided the momentum to continue our growth in future years. His contributions will be missed by players, tournaments, business partners, staff, the Board of Directors, and all those who have worked beside him these past nine years.”

Kantarian has also led the expansion of the USTA’s footprint in the sport through successful acquisitions and investments in several ATP and WTA tournaments and Tennis Channel. The USTA is now viewed as a significant player in the professional sport throughout the country. More recently, Kantarian oversaw the launch of the USTA’s new Elite Player Development program, hiring Patrick McEnroe to lead the organization’s development of the next generation of American champions. In 2008, the US Open was attended by a record 720,000 fans, seen by over 80 million television viewers, and broadcast in over 180 countries worldwide.

Kantarian will continue with the USTA through the end of the year, and will work closely with the USTA leadership on a succession plan.

Official Press Release from the USTA at 3:31p Thursday October 30, 2008


Karen said...

Savannah, I did not read through your whole post, but one thing that struck me when I heard that Kanterian was no longer with the USTA - announcement coming that he is the new ATP head. I wonder if that becomes the case what will happen to European players and their need for more clay court tournaments. As to the Roadmap, welcome to the tour within a tour. I guess the only place that these up and comers and for that matter those players who are coming back from injury etc will not be able to play challengers etc. Is that what it means?
On another note, I notice that everyone is saying that JJ has made the q/f or better of 19 of 21 tournaments that she has played. Is that an accomplishment. For most of the tournaments that she plays, she only has to play one match to get to the q/f, 2 to get to the semis and 3 to get to the finals. I am sorry but where is the accomplishment in this? An accomplishment is getting to the q/f or semis of the majors - you have to play at least 3 or 4 matches to get to the q/f or semis, which to my mind is a greater accomplishment.

Cornelia said...

Dear Savannah, I can understand that you got tired and stopped blogging about the proposed changes. Cheer up, you are not alone in it - at least where ATP is concerned. Togehter with other tennis fans I started an online petition that tennis fans can sign, see here: Tennis fans support ATP players' demand for more influence in ATP decisions and changes to the ATP tour and calendar

The petition got online in May and has currently over 2900 signatures and still counting.
And this weeek I have written an angry open letter to the ATP which is online on sportingo, see here:

I still have hope that changes in tennis are possible. Maybe you feel like you want to start blogging about it again.
Lots of greetings, Cornelia