Friday, August 6, 2010

To Everything There Is A Season

by Savannah

13] G Simon (FRA) d [2] A Roddick (USA) 63 63
[3] [WC] F Verdasco (ESP) d [Q] R Sweeting (USA) 64 75
[4] M Cilic (CRO) d [15] M Fish (USA) 64 46 62
X Malisse (BEL) d [5] J Isner (USA) 64 36 76(5)

There will not be any Americans taking the court to play singles in Washington DC later this afternoon. As you can see by the above results Andy Roddick, Ryan Sweeting, Mardy Fish and John Isner all lost to European players. For Roddick this is especially hard since the loss will see him ranked #11, the first time he's been out of the top ten since August of 2006.

Is it time for weeping and gnashing of teeth? It's been that time for American tennis for quite some time. The bigger culprit in my very humble opinion, aside from the fact that we don't have players who can compete against the best Europe has to offer on a regular basis, is the schedule.

In case you didn't know there is a Masters 1000 event being played in Toronto, Ontario, Canada next week. Legg Mason is a Masters 500. All of the big boys, like it or not, will be in Toronto with their eyes on the prize.

I don't know how many of you remember this but when the ATP under Etienne de Villiers was revamping the schedule many players wanted the events in Canada moved to a different part of the year. The Canadians refused. The ATP and WTA backed their stance. So while venerable tournaments like Hamburg were downgraded the Canadian events were made as sacrosanct as the Slams. Meanwhile the US Open series becomes a glorified Challenger event where the best we have to offer is put on display with the hopes someone will catch fire going into the US Open.

Are the players making choices? I doubt it. But look at what they're facing. For the men there is Toronto followed by Cincinnati, also a Masters 1000. For the women after Stanford and San Diego, both Premier events come Cincinnati, Montreal and Pilot Pen, all Premier events.
On the men's side the Europeans don't bother to come over until Toronto. The American men are expected to play the US Open series as well as those back to back Masters 1000 events.

So before we start bemoaning the state of American tennis we should bemoan the schedule that would have the last Slam of the calendar year see the sports top players limping into Flushing Meadows instead of coming in rested and ready to compete at the highest levels.

A few years ago a promising young American girl was served up as cannon fodder on opening night at the US Open. She was hyped as the next best thing and after her loss faded into oblivion. Only tennis junkies noticed her name on Challenger entry lists and figured her to be another victim of the system.
Well that little girl has grown up and Coco Vandeweghe is suddenly winning on the main tour. Her win over Vera Zvonareva in San Diego is huge. Let's hope that she is not "oudinized" and that she is able to set her own pace and terms for her career.

Pictures of the Week
Note to WTA: Feminine does not mean slutty. I'm just sayin'.

Daniela Hantuchova and Sorana Cirstea
Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki
Dominika Cibulkova
Zheng Jie (Actually the best of the bunch)
Jelena Jankovic

All but the pic of JJ were taken in Dubai. JJ's picture appears to be from a Serbian magazine shoot.

Alls I know is that someone needs to be dragged out and shot over this one.
Why Elena? Why?


TopSpin said...

Sort of agree about the schedule.

On the other hand neither of the US Open Series build up events are mandatory - I get that its a big deal playing at home, but no ones forcing you to play them.

TennisAce said...

The problem with the USO Series is just as you have described. The big guys do not play these events. They come over for the MS tournaments, stay for the Open and then they are out of here.

It does not help that due to corporate interests, tennis fans like us cannot get to see any tennis because everything is embargoed on a tape delay basis. Who wants to watch a tennis match where you already know the outcome.

People in American on message boards all over cannot understand why it is when tennis gets to Northa America, where all the money and television stations are, that is when you are guaranteed never to see tennis.

I have checked my schedule for Toronto and I can see that on ESPNI and TSN I will have wall to wall coverage of Toronto. Cincinatti will be happening and I suspect that ESPN2 will embargo all matches, throw a bone to TC and if you are lucky, Eurosport might deign to get 2 matches of 2 Europeans, more than likely Radwanska and Wozniacki and then they are out of here.

How can tennis be expected to grow in this country when all you see are tape delayed matches. The drama is already gone. The expectations that is supposed to bring in fans and keep those long standing ones is taken away. No wonder the top guys do not come over until the Canada/Cinci part of the USO Series.

Finally, in terms of commentary, these days all we are getting is the constant dig at the only 2 Americans who have been able to raise the old red, white and blue for going on 10 years now in women's tennis. They are villified in the media and their names and legacy asterisked, while those who have not accomplished half as much are put on pedestals. Who wants to listen to all that crap anyway?

Savannah said...

The last straw for me was that TennisTV, something I pay for, was not available for viewers in the United States. I ended up watching live tennis streams online.

Tomas Berdych, the top seed at Legg Mason in the nations capital openly and on the record complained about his shabby treatment by the tournament organizers. From court placement to match times he felt he was slighted.

And the American tennis authorities wonder why the Europeans don't want to play here.

Wayne said...

Savannah I would be really interested to get your take on Coco? Do you think she has what it takes?

Savannah said...

She played well for awhile against Sveta yesterday but when crunch time came she lost all patience and thus concentration. Her coach gave her good advice but she didn't execute anything he told her to.

She's got a way to go Wayne. Not sure if she's got the ability to buckle down and do what it takes to get to the top.

She also needs to get more fit.

Wayne said...

Thanks for answering Savannah. I saw her play against Sveta and agree with everything you said. She looks promising and it looks like she has a great backhand, very solid, but is still very green. I think she has a better chance of making in roads then Oudin so it will be interesting to see what happens.

TennisAce said...

Berdych needs to grow a pair. After he beat Federer at Wimbledon, he then went on to tear him apart in the press conference because of the old injury stuff that Federer mentioned. What did he then do when he lost, blame the schedule, blame lack of sleep, blame everything but his very poor play.

Everybody in Washington had the same problem. The tournament had to get every match finished because of the rain delay. He is the top seed. Deal with it. It is not like Berdych has accomplished much in his woeful career. All talent and no mental strength. He beats Federer twice in a season and all of a sudden he gets sympathy. Give me a break already. 8 years on Tour and 5 titles to show for it. Yeah, that is the world beater that everyone was feeling so much sympathy for.

And why is that whenever these no-name players beat the top players all of a sudden they become a threat. A threat to do what. People used to say the same thing about Youzhny when he used to have Nadal's number. It is a reason why Nadal, Federer, Serena, Venus and many others are where they are today. It can be summed up in one word: consistency.