Monday, November 1, 2010

This and That

by Savannah

Thank goodness for people like FootFault who while saying he/she is not out to change the WTA ranking system still manages to throw more fuel on the fire of the WTA ranking system. Keep In mind that the rankings were once based on points scored per tournament.

Rank – Name – Average Points Per Tournament

1. Serena Williams 893
2. Venus Williams 554
3. Kim Clijsters 553
4. Justine Henin 379
5. Caroline Wozniacki 365
6. Vera Zvonareva 357
7. Sam Stosur 262
8. Francesca Schiavone 224

I'm just saying.

Team Glamour Girls, Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko, proved they are more than that by winning the Doubles crown in Doha. The Smiling Assassins - Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova, winners of two Grand Slams, did not make the final. The Glamour Girls defeated the team of Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik to win.

Christophe Rochus Slings Mud

Career record 109–186
Career titles 0
Highest ranking No. 38 (May 1, 2006)
Current ranking No. 158 (June 14, 2010)

When you Google Christophe Rochus name you get two results, his name, and another reference to match fixing. Being the person I am I read the match fixing stuff first. It makes for pretty interesting reading. Here's a sample from a 2009 article.

Exclusive: Wimbledon on high alert over suspected match-fixing rings

Up to 12 players feature on official 'watch list' following betting irregularities

By Nick Harris

The Independent has...learnt that...there was also irregular betting on at least one match at the Monte Carlo Masters in April. France's Jean-René Lisnard's first-round win, 6-2, 6-2, over Belgium's Christophe Rochus led to non-payment of bets by some bookies.

From this year there's this

Newport Match Under Investigation for Match Fixing
July 9, 2010

Richard Bloomfield and Christophe Rochus’ first-round match at the Newport event in R.I. this week attracted a great deal of suspicion after $1.5 million was waged on the contest.
Bloomfield won in straight sets, even though he was ranked No. 552 in the world, and Rochus was ranked No. 160. Bloomfield became the 1-8 favorite shortly after capturing the first set.
With match fixing becoming an evident problem in men’s tennis, further inquiry by the ATP and Tennis officials will continue to take place.

So of course as Rochus exits stage left he talks about - doping - and how it's rampant in mens tennis. In the interview he talks about the suspicion around Justine Henin's bizarre exit but of course says nothing libelous. "You've heard the talk," seems to be his proof.

As long as there are sports competitions there will be those who try to cheat - either by doping in the hope of enhancing their performance, or when they think they can't falling prey to those who care only about making money off of sport not about sport itself.

Then there are those who just become bitter that their talent wasn't enough, or that they turned pro at the wrong time. Christophe is the shorter of the two Rochus brothers and maybe he never got over not being a foot taller. I'm no shrink so I don't know. It's interesting that he seems to be dropping hints about who the nosebleed player could be so that fans will obsess about solving that riddle instead of looking at the man who is casting aspersions.

I have no idea if Rochus is guilty of anything. It's just that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. We are all raised with that maxim. At least we should be.

Daniele Bracciali and Potito Starace won the doubles crown in St Petersburg.
Ross Hutchins and Stephen Huss won the doubles title in Montpellier.

In Wien the team of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic won the doubles title.

The Future Of the WTA

WTA CEO Stacey Allaster delivered her State of the WTA speech at Doha this past week. A few things stood out and are excerpted below. It's a long excerpt but well worth reading.

...On the business perspective, I highlighted the digital international growth, circuit structure, and financial stability would be our priorities. We kicked it off with the renewal of our major partnership with Sony Ericsson, and that gave us all the wind in our sails.

To have Sony Ericsson renew, such a terrific brand, perfect to help us communicate and promote an energetic product. We couldn't be more thrilled to have Sony Ericsson as our lead global partner in 2011 and 2012.

There's no doubt, a new leader at Sony Ericsson, Bert Nordberg, who is incredibly committed, very energized, participating in our global advisory council. He has restaffed and reprioritized our partnership. It will be reenergized, and I think in 2011 you'll see some exciting now marketing programs specifically targeted on the young players who are in that 30 to 50 category, the next group of stars. That's fantastic for us, because we need that energy to help market and promote those future stars.

But obviously there has been a change. They are no longer our title sponsor, but they remain or No. 1 partner. We will unlock our two brands, but our two brands will live together, wherever possible, side by side.
We decided to go back to exactly who we are: The Women's Tennis Association. In had 1973, Billie Jean King and approximately 50 players were in the Gloucester Hotel in London, and they formed the Women's Tennis Association. We decided first and foremost to be the WTA.

That would be our hero brand, and then we would create a subportfolio of brands: WTA Tour, WTA Championships, WTA news, rankings, scores, WTA Premier event. I think in doing so, we wanted to keep our communication simple, and also create a model for commercialization so we could have revenue growth.
In 2010, not only did we renew Sony Ericsson, we secured three new sponsors. We had not secured a new sponsor in six years. I think that had everything to do with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Because when you have such a dominant brand, it is much harder to attract other brands to want to partner.
So we kicked it off with a new relationship with Oriflame, a Swedish‑based cosmetics company.
The WTA clothing line will launch in 6,000 retail outlets in 2011 in China, with our new partnership with Peak. Peak is a Chinese‑based apparel company with global aspirations, performance, and style. They're(sic) focus at first will be on China. They work with NBA China, so it's a great brand to now partner with the WTA.

Our third partnership, I really would like to tell you, but I can't. It is signed, and it will be announced in the next couple of weeks.
We go to our international growth strategy. Asia‑Pacific is the priority, and specifically China. You know that in 2009 we put one of our four mandatory events in Beijing. There is the incredible Olympic stadium that was built, and now is the home of the China Open. Next year when I'm here, I'm going to be able to show you a new 15,000-seat, retractable roof stadium. Laura Ceccarelli is smiling, a supervisor.

It is absolutely amazing what the Beijing government and the China Open are doing for our sport. At the press conference there in Beijing, Chairman Yabin said to me, Stacey, what took tournaments 20 or 30 years to build, we're going to to build it in four or five years. They are incredibly ambitious. They have made women's tennis a priority sport, and that is just simply fantastic for the WTA.

We have an office in Beijing. We're two and a half years into it. It has been led by David Shoemaker, our president. I don't know where Dave is. He's done an incredible job. He's now back in St. Pete with me, thank goodness, but he's still overseeing this very important strategic growth project for us.

We have taken a play right out of David Stern's playbook from the NBA. We need to excite kids about our sport. We need to get racquets in their hands and show them our sport is fun through tennis festivals throughout the country. That's created an opportunity for our brand, and also assets for our partners, like Peak.

We have a lot education to do. We're going to work with the Chinese Tennis Association to educate the Chinese people on our sport. Even a simple thing as how to score the game. And being on the ground and in the market is a great advantage to us.

And then we have the local heroes. Where our team week in, week out is promoting back to the Chinese fans their stars. And what a year the Chinese players had, making the semifinals in Australia, Li Na being the first Chinese woman to crack the top 10. As David has said, it's not a matter of if there will be a No. 1 female Chinese player in the world, it's just a matter of when.

The circuit structure really has been a beacon of focus for me. You know, in 2009 we launched the new circuit structure. We call it the Roadmap. It was the most extensive set of reforms in the history of the WTA. It was about streamlining our calendar and shortening the season. Together with the players and the management team and our board, we are all thrilled that tonight at about 10:30 the 2010 season will be over and we end with two months off. That is great for the athletes.

Better geographical flow around the Grand Slams with the surface and the climates. Very important for the overall health and well‑being of the athlete, and giving them some breaks in between. Is it working? Absolutely. Compared to where we were in 2008, withdrawals are down 35%, and our top 10 players are committing at 84% to our top events.

We never said the Roadmap would be without injury. There is going to be injury in sport, particularly when you have 40 weeks on a very demanding and grueling calendar.

But if we look at I think the injuries that are on everyone's mind ‑ Serena, Venus, Justine ‑ those injuries are not from overplay. They are not because of the demands on the circuit where we've asked now the top 10 players to play ten, they have each of their own individual reasons for why they're not with us here in Doha.


Tennis players are getting more exposure via fashion oriented photo shoots. Here are examples of players doing the supermodel thing.
Vera Zvonareva in Russian Harpers Bazaar
Jelena Jankovic


TennisAce said...

So are you saying that because Rochus himself is no saint, he should not be pointing fingers at others. If Canseco had thought like that the veil of secrecy in baseball would still be there. If Landis had not been caught finally he would not have spoken about Armstrong and if Contador had not tested positive the Spanish government would not think it opportune to conduct raids throughout Spain and shut down labs that were dealing in performance enhancing substance.

In this case, we cannot shoot the messenger just because they themselves are not coming with clean hands.

For years we all thought that no American player was using drugs, yet how soon we forget that Wayne Odesnik, a journeyman player was caught in Australia with HGH.

Rochus is saying what many others have thought. How could a champion such as Justine, in the prime of her career, who had evened up the h2h against Serena and Venus and who was playing the best tennis of her life just up and retire just like that on the basis that she had lost her passion for the sport and then conveniently 18 months later she found the passion once again from seeing Federer win. Federer won a lot of tournaments during that time, why did the passion not come back then?

I am not for one minute implying that Justine is guilty of doping, but rather than shoot the messenger and bring up his shoddy pass, how about we as fans start calling on the authorities in tennis to be a little bit more transparent about how they enforce the whereabouts rule; disclose to us the fans how many players have failed to meet with drug testers and for good measure how about the reasons.

I love this sport. I really do and I really do not want anything to come close to it to damage it in any way shape or form.

In the same way that people were calling for Forstmann's head, how about we call upon the ITF/ATP/WTA/WADA to come out with some statement on this issue?

Sen no Rikyū said...

So, that's all you have to say about the Rochus allegations? How does slagging him for match fixing allegations disprove what he says about doping? Instead, you write him off as bitter. Are you saying that you have no interest in knowing if there is any truth to what he says, and whether there is a widespread doping problem in tennis?

Yolita said...

My problem with Rochus' remarks is the complete lack of evidence. When making such terrible accusations, one would expect hard evidence!

Does he have any evidence, except his lack of understanding of Justine's actions and motivations? That's only evidence of his lack of imagination and total narrow-mindedness!

I need evidence of doping! Nobody should be able to get away with bad-mouthing successful athletes just because they feel like it!

Poor man! He must be dying with envy and resentment!

Savannah said...

I think Rochus is deflecting. Rather than talk about his issues and deny that he's done anything wrong he blasts the sport he allegedly loves without doing what Canseco did and name names.

The top players are tested constantly. They're tested so much that they've complained about it. Testing outside of the upper echelon - where Rochus spent most of his time - is more haphazard.

I think his comments, without saying who Mr. Nosebleed is - stem from bitterness. Until or unless he names names that is all anyone can say without indulging in speculation.

Sen no Rikyū said...

Is Mardy Fish bitter?

"This is my 11th year. I've seen a few guys come and go who have cheated..."

How about Nathalis Tauziat?

"...doping exists in tennis and needs to be stopped. I have no hard evidence, but all I will say is that you don't have to have a degree in medicine to see that some of the players have transformed themselves almost overnight."

And Nicolas Escude:

"To say that tennis today is clean, you have to be living in a dream world."

And what of Leander Paes?

"The tennis players themselves have brought it (anti-doping rules) upon themselves. A lot of players have been cheating."

What agenda do they have? Especially Fish and Paes, they are both active players. Who are they referring to?

Sen no Rikyū said...

Are Fish and Paes deflecting, too?

Mardy Fish 2010:

"This is my 11th year. I've seen a few guys come and go who have cheated..."

Leander Paes 2009:

"The tennis players themselves have brought it (anti-doping rules) upon themselves. A lot of players have been cheating."

Savannah said...

Just because Rochus is full of shit doesn't mean there isn't a doping problem. I've been one of the few who said and have kept saying that Henin's "retirement" was a drug suspension. No news for me there.

The fact that Odesnik, caught, tried to keep playing speaks volumes about the mentality of the athletes who do engage in this behavior.

The thing that grates is that those fans who are always talking about doping are usually talking about Serena and Rafa. That IMO is more wishful thinking than anything else. Can you imagine the fallout if Serena, or Venus, failed a drug test? Rafa? That would not be swept under the rug the way Henin's seems to have been. If you've ever seen Venus, Serena, or Rafa in person you'd know how much bullshit it is that they're on something. Rafa is rail thin, Serena's breasts have not decreased in size and Venus is determined to let everyone see hers are the same size they've always been.

So IMO Rochus is just trying to deflect attention from HIS issue, match fixing by his parting remarks. If you have proof of what he says spill it. In fact if he has proof he should talk to TPTB about it. If he won't name names because he doesn't want to be seen as a rat then why bring this shit up the way he did?

kraa said...

IF Serena or Rafa were on something, authorities would be particularly likely to sweep it under the carpet. Not because they are particularly loved (although I think Rafa is well liked, just not as well as Roger), but because of the damage it would do to the sport financially. They did it for Agassi...

Savannah said...

We're going to disagree on this Kraa. Rafa is seen as a usurper by many in the tennis hierarchy and any chance to besmirch the image of either Venus or Serena would not be passed up.

TennisAce said...

I am with kraa on this one Sav. Rafa is the future of tennis. The powers that be want the sport to encompass new blood and that means they want more money to come in to tennis. Federer is good for the sport in the way that he typifies sportsmanship but Nadal is what the sport looks to as it tries to capture a new audience.

In relation to Serena I am of 2 minds on that one. I think the powers that be want her to go. She is too in your face and they want the sport to go back to being lily white and genteel, especially on the women's side, hence their pushing Wozniacki down our collective throats. They are marketing her as the next Chris Evert. Good luck to them on that one.

What annoys me about this whole thing is that as soon as someone brings up doping, people immediately think Serena and Rafa. When I think of doping I immediately think of other players. I look at players who were never able to get out of their own way and who all of a sudden seem to be doing exceptionally well. I look at Soderling, Berdych, Zvonreva, Clijsters, Stosur (and not for the muscles). There are a whole host of players who were never any good. Some of it due to mentality, others due to lack of fitness and yet here they are in the twilight of their careers doing well.