Monday, May 4, 2009

Heard Around

by Savannah

As everyone who follows tennis knows Andy Murray will ascend to the number three ranking in men's tennis on May 11, 2009. That is when the points from last years Rome Masters Series will drop from Novak Djokovic's point total. Djokovic needed to win Rome to maintain his number three ranking.
As is to be expected the Brits are over the moon about this development and speculation has already begun about where Wimbledon will seed Murray. Will they seed him number two ahead of Roger Federer and therefore "protect" him from Rafael Nadal until the Final or will they seed him number three and let the luck of the draw determine whether he will be be in the top or bottom half of the Wimbledon men's field?

There is a formula that the AELTC uses to rank seeds that takes past performance on grass into account and this is what is fueling the speculation.
2 2 Federer 10170 
3 4 Murray 8990 
4 3 Djokovic 8760

The projections look like this. Some are also speculating that the AELTC will seed Federer at number one and Nadal number two. The AELTC has resisted pressure to change it's system in the past. Some Spanish players, led by Alex Corretja boycotted the event a few years ago because the British formula adversely affected their seeding. I'd like to say that I doubt the AELTC will mess with the ATP rankings this year but one never knows do one?

I Am Number One

Fans of Dinara Safina are fuming about comments attributed to Serena Williams regarding her ascendancy to Number One.
Serena is quoted as saying "We all know who the real number one is..."
Dinara came back with the following:
'She can say this because she won like many more Grand Slams than me. But she's also older than me so she has more experience than me.
So let's see when I'm gonna be at her age how many titles I'm gonna have, and then we can say."
It's still tough to realize this, in just one year everything changed,' said Safina, who lost the weekend Stuttgart final to compatriot Svetlana Kusnetsova. 'I guess the results, I mean, it's not luck.
'Nobody gave it to me, I proved it. I played two Grand Slam finals (lost to Ana Ivanovic at the French Open 2008 and to Williams for the Australian title this year). And last year I won four titles.
'There was a stage where maybe I won like twenty matches I lost one match, so I think I belong to this, because (the ranking) doesn't come out of sky.

Read More Here
I have nothing against Dinara and feel she is one of the better WTA players when she is on but in this situation I think Serena is right. I would agree with those who say Serena has made some very harsh comments about Russian women players in the past but this time she is stating fact not spouting a point of view. Serena won the last two Slams. She had the best record last year and in any other universe she would be ranked number one. Instead due to the ranking process of the WTA she isn't. Dinara backed into the number one ranking and there is no point in trying to say she didn't. I wish I'd seen the match yesterday but reports I've read say Svetlana Kuznetsova played Dinara off the court. With all the drama surrounding it's ranking system maybe the WTA will look seriously at revamping it so that these situations don't arise.

Speaking of the WTA there are reports Larry Scott will retain an advisory position with the WTA while functioning as PAC-10 commissioner. Interesting if true. Does that mean no one wants to take over the mess he made?

The whispers are getting louder about Maria Sharapova. With her withdrawal from both Rome and Madrid there is open speculation that she may be finished with tennis. I never thought she'd come back during clay season - the physical demands on someone coming back from injury are enormous on the dirt - so I'm looking to see what happens at Wimbledon. The English may be more disposed to let her enter with a protected ranking and avoid having to play qualies and she is much more comfortable on grass. Here are excerpts from the most recent article on her status by Malcolm Folley. Some of it reads as if it was dictated by Maria's agent but there is some meat in the article.
Sharapova has plummeted to No64 in the world and unless she appears at the French Open in Paris in three weeks, she will disappear from the rankings computer altogether as she will not meet the requirement of having three tournament starts to her name in a calendar year.

As a former world No1 and winner of Grand Slam titles, Sharapova would be protected from having to play in qualifying as she will be granted unlimited wild-card invitations, but she cannot expect to be given an automatic high seeding.

At Wimbledon, Sharapova could hope to be dealt with sympathetically as a past champion, if she decides she feels able to play by then.

As a matter of agreement with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, the seedings committee most frequently select their women seeds for the Championships from the running order of the current rankings.

'But we do reserve our right to exercise our discretion in particular circumstances that may arise,' explained Ian Ritchie, chief executive of the All England Club.

Sharapova's appearance at Wimbledon last summer ended in a humiliating second-round defeat by Alla Kudryavtseva...

Sharapova played just one more singles match after leaving Wimbledon, losing to Ai Sugiyama in Montreal at the beginning of August, and had surgery two months later.

Apart from a doubles match in Indian Wells on March 12, when she lost in the first round with Elena Vesnina, she has practised without the apparent desire to test herself in competition.

Last week in Bradenton, Florida, her practice sessions may have given the impression that she has not totally ruled out taking a gamble by returning at the French Open this month.

But in Paris, where she has an unremarkable record, she cannot be guaranteed a place among the top seeds and that would increase her vulnerability at a time when she would be under the spotlight as never before.
Sharapova and her agent will come under immense pressure from her sponsors to play again.

Roger Speaks

Audio clip of Roger Federer interview on the BBC described as being "in-depth". Judge for yourself.
BBC Interview

End Notes

What is up with Michelle Larcher de Brito? She wasn't given a wild card into the main draw at Estoril and lost badly to Elena Bovina 6-0, 6-2 failing to qualify for what is the biggest tournament held in Portugal.

Alize Cornet managed to end her slide with a win in Rome over veteran Sugiyama Ai.

Venus Williams needed three sets to win her first round match over Lucie Safarova also in Rome. I saw some of the match. Venus was hitting the snot out of the ball. Not exactly clay court play.

Speaking of which congratulations go to Lauren Embree and John Isner for winning WC's into the French Open. I guess there are no red clay courts in Florida or the United States since the play off's took place on green "clay". Way to practice for the terre battue.

David Nalbandian said his hip did not require surgery and played at Estoril. Paul Capdeville took him out 2&2.

Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic puts on shorts after officials in Estoril told her the ones she was wearing were too small. So she changed on court. What's the big deal? I assume she put the new ones over the old ones? Just sayin'...

La Caja Magica
These stunning and beautiful images are from the unveiling of Madrid's new tennis complex. I can't wait to see the matches played here.


Helen W said...

Interesing stuff! I hadn't thought about the possible machinations of the AELTC dealing with how to seed Andy Murray. Oh what fun it would be to be a fly on the wall tothose deliberations! And we do know from past experience that they are not above manipulating draws :)

Savannah said...

Helen the more I think about it the more I think they're going to seed Federer #1. Pure speculation on my part. That would make Murray number 3 and Djoke number 4. IF they do that then the decision would be who Federer would rather face. Djoke has a better record than Murray here IIRC and I could be wrong.

Just sayin'.

kraa said...

Couple minor, but important points:

1) Sharapova's ranking will be high enough to enter Wimbledon (deadline is May 11th)

2) Even if it wasn't high enough Brits couldn't let or not let her enter. It's a WTA rule used by many players in the past including Serena and Clijsters

3) AELTC will use grass their grass seeding formula just as they did last year and the year before. It's, however, impossible for Federer to overtake Nadal by this formula. Their grass results in the last two years have been virtually identical.

4) Murray is very likely to be #3, but I don't see how it is drastically different from being #4

Savannah said...

1) Sharapova's ranking will be high enough to enter Wimbledon (deadline is May 11th)IF she decides to skip Wimby then I will give more credence to the talk about her being finished with tennis - for now.
I think sponsors will play a big role in what her decision will be.

2) Even if it wasn't high enough Brits couldn't let or not let her enter. It's a WTA rule used by many players in the past including Serena and ClijstersShe would be more likely to get a favorable deal from the Brits than the French in terms of where she falls in the draw. The French don't owe her jack. She's a past champ at Wimby. Again, just sayin'.

And yes protected rankings have been used in the past by many players.

3) AELTC will use grass their grass seeding formula just as they did last year and the year before. It's, however, impossible for Federer to overtake Nadal by this formula. Their grass results in the last two years have been virtually identical.Rafa has won one Wimbledon. Fed has won what, five? Not exactly identical.

4) Murray is very likely to be #3, but I don't see how it is drastically different from being #4Again, it's who Fed wants to face in my very humble opinion. The Brits are going to want Murray to do well and would love to see him make at least the semi's. That is where the difference will come in.

vw said...

UGH Murray! I hope they don't seed Murray number 2. That's a cheating homeboy policy.
What's with all this special stuff for special people? Fed picking who he wants to play if he gets #1 and Sharapova getting special WC's?
Brits won't have homeboy facing Nadal no matter what. They would fix it so Fed faces Murray and Nadal faces Djok. Cheaters!

kraa said...

AELTC grass seeding formula takes into account only the last two years.

I don't really understand what you wanted to say about Fed... #3 or #4 means either Nadal or Federer in SF and not sooner. Or perhaps you think Roger would prefer Murray over Djokovic? I see no reason for a strong preference. His recent record has been poor against both of them.

Savannah said...

Kraa thanks for clearing up the Wimby grass seeding process. :) I did look but couldn't find it spelled out anywhere.

Or perhaps you think Roger would prefer Murray over Djokovic? I see no reason for a strong preference. His recent record has been poor against both of them.I remember Murray was seeded 12th last year and went out to Rafa in the quarters. Djoke was seeded third and went out to Safin in the second round.

In 2007 Murray didn't play due to injury. Novak was seeded 4th and was beaten in the semi finals by Nadal.

Technically then Djokovic has the better record over the last two years, better than Murray.

Halle and Queens will give a better picture of who is doing what on grass this year. His recent record against Djoke and Murray has not been good but I have to say grass is a different animal.

kraa said...

2008 and 2007 Halle/Queens results will also be taken into account. Not that I remember what Novak and Andy M. achieved there...

Savannah said...

2008 Halle/Gerry Weber result
Federer d Kohlschreiber. No Murray or Djokovic in the draw.

2007 Halle/Gerry Weber Berdych was the champion defeating Baghdatis. Federer did not play.

2007 Queens saw second seed Andy Roddick defeat Nicolas Mahut. Rafa was seeded #1. Djokovic was the fourth seed and went out in the third round.

2008 Queens saw Nadal seeded #1, Djokovic #2 and Murray #6. Murray withdrew in the quarters due to a thumb injury. Nadal played Djokovic for the title and won.

Craig Hickman said...

All I'll say is this:

I'll be shocked if Wimbledon seeds Federer at No. 1. Much they same way I said I'd be shocked if our Supreme Court involved itself in a certain presidential election. Most of us know how that turned out.

Karen said...

Morning All, I highly doubt that the AELTC would seed Nadal as No. 2, they would be out of their cotton picking mind. Venus is a 5 time champion and I think they have only put her at least 2 places up from her seeding. As to Murray, oh my goodness, if they seed him ahead of Roger, then they would be stir crazy. The fellow has never even made it to the semis and I think last year was his best performance. Murray for now is a 3 set player and until he proves himself against a worthy opponent in a 5 set match, I am not even looking at him, plus all the expectations will ensure that he bombs out in the second round. Memories of Novak last year against Safin. I cannot see how people are writing off Roger for Wimbledon when he is a 5 time champ there. Remarkable how people's expectations and memories change.

love40 said...

Speaking of Serena's I am number one. If she was a man and made those statements there probably won't be so much discussion going on. Is it harsh? Yes. Can she back it up? Any time, any place, any where.

Savannah said...

It never ceases to amaze me how simple statements of fact from Serena turn into controversy love40.

If ANYONE other than Serena had made that statement there would be no discussion.

sG said...

The 'Protect Murray' spec better not happen. The 'Hey, you know what might be awesome? Seeding Roger first' spec better not happen. Essentially none of that sh#t better happen. This may change in the coming weeks but Andy Murray has yet to earn the privilege of being seeded higher than Fed at Wimbledon or any other tournament. The idea of seeding Andy above Roger because he's a Brit in order to facilitate some (unfair) advantage is a smack in the face! As for that BS spec about seeding Rafa @#%king second?! :deep breath: I'm going to leave it right there. I want to laugh it off. I want to say it's just crazy talk. They wouldn't, couldn't, do something so ridiculous, so blatantly bias as to be...! But I remember Wimbledon 2007. I will never forget that scheduling sh#t.

I don't expect Sharapova to quit tennis. I think she's flirting with the possibility but I don't think she'll actually up and do it.

Serena could have done a better job not letting journalists bait her with that trap of a question. But just like Roger and JJ, is she saying anything anyone else isn't already saying/thinking? So, she let them know what was on her mind grapes, very Serena. The only sure combat to such a challenge is to prove the assertion moot. Dinara has done better than JJ by entering more Slam finals, now she needs to win. I really think she can and I wish her all the best, if only so the WTA can stem the reputation bleed. We all know it's partly sexism but even I'm calling their top ten out for being crap.