The US Open Series has started with one lone ATP tournament in Kitzbuhel holding things down in Europe but what happened last week? Do you care? If you don't why are you reading this blog? Tennisheads need tennis like a fish needs water. It's our raison d'etre. So lets look at the week that was.
Fans? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Fans
Fans are flocking to see tennis in Asia! The WTA knows it will take time but more and more fans are showing up to tournaments they say.
The above picture from Baku shows fans in the stadium during semi final day. On Day Two of the tournament there was one fan - one - in the stands.
That seems unbelievable but the WTA never refuted the fan report. Sometimes I look around for attendance figures at the Asian events but I never seem to be able to find them.
Attendance was a bit better at Nanchang where Jelena Jankovic was the top seed and eventual champion. The week before attendance in Istanbul, formerly a city where fans turned out for women's tennis, was abysmal. There was more than one fan in attendance but attendance was nowhere near what is was when the YEC was held there.
How can tennis survive in such an atmosphere? Don't ticket sales make or break a tournament? Not when the local governments not fans are supporting the tournament. I don't know how much money it takes to put on a tournament but there is staff that has to be paid, umpires and other tournament officials who need to be accommodated. One fan isn't going to cut it.
I watched the semi final between Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Patricia Tig. Well I tried to watch it. There were a few people in the stands that I could see - no panoramic stadium views were provided - but they were as quiet as church mice. I made it through the first set and put on something else. How must the players feel playing in an empty stadium with no one but coaches (if they're traveling with a coach) there for you. When your sympathy for the players makes it impossible to focus on their play there's no need to watch a match. The WTA cited low ticket sales as it's reason for moving a lot of tournaments to Asia but no ticket sales don't project the image the WTA, or I presume the Chinese want to show to the world.
This and That
Grigor Dimitrov wanted Ivan Lendl to coach him. It's reported that Lendl told him the same thing he told Tomas Berdych, that he doesn't want to travel anymore. According to The Telegraph he will be coached by Sweden's Johan Ortegren.
Washington DC's Citi Open, long a part of the US Open series, is not part of it anymore. That could be because they signed a contract with Tennis Channel instead of ESPN. Tennis Channel is giving the Citi Open wall to wall coverage.
The person who runs the official Roland Garros Twitter account called Dominic Thiem, who has won back to back ATP 250 titles at Umag and Gstaad, a King of Clay. I'm following the never argue with an idiot advice.
This is bad for tennis. Those of us who live and breathe the sport want other sports fans to watch and see the beauty of the sport in all of it's forms. One style of tennis isn't better than another. Instead it comes down to personal preference. Some like rip and grip tennis. Some prefer a match where strategy and thought may a dominant role. For US fans, unless your cable provider has Tennis Channel as part of it's basic package you have to hope that NBC Sports Network is part of your package. Otherwise you'll be forced to find streams from Europe in order to watch the second major of the tennis year.
The situation with the Australian Open seems to be up in the air but if I were a bettor I'd say ESPN will continue coverage. Remember I've always said the United States, Australia and Great Britain were the heart and soul of the tennis axis and that France is like a poor relation. As soon as I hear more, or if you hear more, feel free to post comments here.
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