Saturday, September 27, 2014

Let's Talk About Wuhan


For the WTA Wuhan, or more precisely the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, was set up to be the Jewel in the Crown of the refocused WTA Main Tour, the showcase to show Asia what women's tennis was all about. All of the big names were in attendance and it promised to be bigger than Beijing.

When dealing with tennis as the good people of Hong Kong found out, what's promised is not always what's delivered.
Wuhan was something different though. The top seed, and one of the top up and comers were wiped out by gastric distress early in the event. Considering that the tennis stars were probably staying in a five star hotel and still got sick I wonder what is going on in the kitchens there? One person tweeted that when they went to China they lost seven pounds due to gastric issues. I hope that situation gets straightened out.

The other top seeds seem to have been going through the motions. What happened could be called a massacre I suppose because after the early rounds only second tier seeds were left along with the number three seed Petra Kvitova. This is what you'd expect to happen to a tournament held the week before a Premier Mandatory. Do I think the WTA should adapt the ATP numeric systen to describe its tournaments? Yes. It's a real pain in the ass to find out the point levels assigned to a tournament. And don't forget there are a couple of different levels of Premier events. Yes there are Masters 500 and Masters 1000 on the ATP side but doesn't knowing the number of points the winner will get better than having to search the interwebs to find out the same information for a WTA event?

Anyway anyone with eyes to see and follows tennis knew what the desired final matchup was going to be and lo and behold the rematch of the Wimbledon Final took place at about three in the morning Eastern time. Of course everyone was up to watch right? I know I wasn't. It was the end of a long week and unless you were being paid to stay up I'm guessing many in the States passed. Those on the west coast of the States would've had an easier time of it.

I don't know how either woman played since I was asleep. I do know that Petra won in straight sets 6-3, 6-4. I read some analyses that said Eugenie Bouchard was trying to outhit Petra instead of making her move. Like Maria Sharapova Petra is not a great mover. I'm sure whoever has been working on making her tennis less ugly will be working on that as well.

I did see some of the early round matches since they started about 11p in my time zone. The seats around the court were fairly well populated while the upper tiers were pretty empty. The fans showed up at the end of the work week but by then the matches were starting in the early morning hours and I'd end up falling asleep during the first set.
I feel that the WTA by setting such late for the US starting times wrote off the potential audience in the States given preference to Asia. If that's what she wants so be it.

I'd call the tournament a moderate success based on what bits and pieces I saw. I think next year, when top players won't be forced to play a week before a Premier Mandatory tournament will be the test. By that time some Asian stars may have emerged and something will have been done to make the viewing easier for a non Asian audience.

Next up is Beijing where the tradition of an empty stadium appears to be continuing. Nothing is worse than playing in an empty stadium and I saw parts of two matches played in one. Even the one featuring promising teenager Xu Shilin playing Sabine Lisicki was played in a mostly empty stadium. I swear only officials saw Carla Suarez Navarro play Kirsten Flipkens.

I wish I could promise more detailed posts on these tournaments but with the time difference (yes again!) I don't think that's possible.

So congratulations to Petra Kvitova for winning the inaugural Wuhan tournament. I wonder if she'll be back to defend her title next year?

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