Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Savannah's Heard Around

by Savannah

I was working on a commentary about the WTA and what is happening regarding Roadkill but this fan did such a good job I'll let her do the talking.

JennyS on the Tennis Forum's site.

This new book written by WTA Tour chief Larry Scott will soon hit the shelves. In the book he gives the following tips to aspiring tennis tour CEO's:

-Never, EVER attempt to promote the sport. Make the players do it themselves. Oh yeah, and have them wear stupid pink t-shirts to promote girl power.
-Make sure to keep entry lists HIDDEN from the public, so they might won't be frightened away from buying tickets to tournaments if a player they dislike is in the draw.
-If a player is not American or a tall blonde Russian, ignore her completely.
-Do NOTHING to address player injuries and blame everything on THEM!
-Try to get the top players to play as many tournaments a year as possible and don't give a shit about their longevity because quite frankly, you will not be CEO longer than 5 years, so who gives a damn?!
-Schedule 10 tournaments a year in Southern California and at least five in Los Angeles.
-Don't give a shit about TV ratings and focus more on making money by scheduling as many tournaments as you possibly can.
-If a player complains about the season being too long, tell them to shut up or retire.
-If a player pulls out of a tournament and does not have a valid medical report signed by a doctor, a nurse AND the tour medical advisor, fine them $100,000 and suspend them for two months.
-If a player plays fewer than 25 tournaments, they do not get any of the tour's bonus pool.
-Discourage players from participating in Fed Cup, Davis Cup and exhibitions so they can play as many tour events as possible

and finally
-Sit back in your office, make a ton of money and do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and make a six figure salary a year!

That's a wrap no?

From The Mouth of Roger Federer

IT: A lot of No. 1 players distance themselves from getting involved in tennis policies and politics. Not you. You’ve spoken out and have pretty much been a traditionalist when it comes to the use of Hawk-Eye, a bunch of Wimbledon issues, the downscaling of the long-established Monte Carlo tournament or having tournaments experiment with the round-robin format. Why have you chosen to speak out?

RF: You have to remember that tennis has incredible roots. We haven’t been around just for five years so you can change everything and everybody’s open to changes. I grew up a certain way with tennis being in a certain way. I don’t want it to change, because I think it’s a great sport. The problem we have is that we should have more sponsors, bring more money in and get back on normal TV. That’s been the biggest problem for us. We had some bad deals with the ISL deal that went bankrupt [when tennis supposedly was going to land huge international marketing deals that never materialized.] That really hurt us a lot in terms of being on a normal TV network. They sold the broadcasting rights to private networks. That just killed the market for us in terms of sponsorship, and being on TV for the regular fan. The stadiums now are sold out, people are loving this sport. It’s a great live sport to attend. It’s a pity. But we’re on the way back, because we have a great package to sell. This is what we need to focus on and not little changes like that stupid round robin.

Source: Inside Tennis

They don't ask him and Roger doesn't mention it but Mercedes Benz which was a tour sponsor has signed an exclusive deal with Roger and will have him as it's spokesperson in Asia. This is a little different from the situation with Maria Sharapova and Sony Ericsson since SE is still a tour sponsor and Mercedes won't be anymore but as many fans have said can the ATP afford to lose such a big sponsor at this point? I said I wouldn't talk anymore about the debacle men's tennis has become. I also won't talk about how ET is favoring the American tournament directors at this point. We can bitch and moan about the loss of Hamburg to Madrid but Hamburg's suit is still pending. If they win then can we say ET's reign has been a disaster for the ATP? There is some serious discussion going on among tennisheads on this subject and believe it or not some American fans are able to see the big picture since we are tennis fans
first and will watch tennis no matter who is playing. Over on Mens Tennis Forums there is a thread that features serious discussion about the ATP situation. American fans like "Deboogle" and "Fee" are showing we're not all head in the sand don't care about the rest of the world of tennis fans. Keep up the good work.

This and That

Nishikori Kei of Japan has signed a three year deal with SONY
TOKYO, April 30, 2008—IMG today announced that professional tennis player Kei Nishikori has signed a three-year global sponsorship agreement with Sony Corporation.
Nishikori, 18, will endorse a wide range of Sony electronics products. In addition, the Japanese-born tennis player will wear a Sony logo on his right sleeve during official competition. Nishikori currently has worldwide endorsement agreements with Adidas and Wilson.

Anastasia Myskina gave birth to her first child, a son named Yevgeny on April 29, 2008. Mother and son are both fine. There is no news as to who the child's father is.

Monte Carlo

The shock waves seem to be subsiding a bit now. I don't think it's the end result that surprised people so much as the way it was achieved. Bloggers and columnists who were used to dealing with Rafael Nadal as an inconvenient truth were forced to deal with him as what he is, a great player, and not try to pigeonhole him into some preconceived idea of what he should be. The Monte Carlo men's final will go down as one of the greatest matches of the year and will be talked about for a very long time among fans and students of the sport.

But more happened that will be talked about. This fan has not been able to root for Novak Djokovic ever since Estoril in 2007 where he faked injury against Richard Gasquet before easily winning the third and deciding set. There are many of us who have pointed out his lack of sportsmanship, and class, in dealing with his peers and his sport. His walk out during his country's Davis Cup tie against Russia with an "illness" was glossed over by many who want to see him as the future of tennis. Monte Carlo was a whole 'nother ball game as we say here in the States. The eyes of the tennis world were fixed on this event with many predicting that the defending champion would not even make the final since he'd yet to win a title this year. Many pundits predicted a Novak vs Roger final, a match they said would pit the best two players against each other.

When Roger almost went down to Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo in the first round the sound of bodies hitting the floor was heard world wide. A loss in the first round was their worst nightmare. Roger was on a roll they figured conveniently forgetting that Roger was losing in Estoril when Nikolay Davydenko felt a twinge in his leg and capitulated the match to him. A win is a win even if it's gifted no?

But Roger overcame Ramirez-Hidalgo who had been up 5-1 in the third set before gagging away the match. With little hard opposition he found himself in a semi final match against Novak. I should mention that this is the first tournament where the seeding was done the way I always thought it should be, with Djokovic as number three in the top half of the draw. Djokovic, who had cake walked his way to the semi was the fresher of the two, or should have been.

The first set was a well fought one with Roger coming out on top. The second set started out where the first one ended, with good rallies and shot making. If you turned away for a second during the break at 3-2 Federer in the second set you missed Novak walking over to Roger and shaking his hand. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. In what was probably the most important match of his career Djokovic was punking out, retiring a la Justine Henin so that he deprived his opponent of a satisfying win. And no one could defend him. Tape soon surfaced on the net of Roger, normally the coolest of customers on the court, turning to Novak's parents and telling them to "be quiet". They were shrieking at the chair to overturn a call. Roger conceded the call was wrong and wiped out the mark. The parents had been kept under wraps most of this year after their horrible actions against fans of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Melbourne. Their reappearance shows that they feel no shame about their behavior. The reason for Novak's withdrawal? A sore throat. I guess they had to come up with something since it was obvious he was in no physical discomfort during the match.

Novak has his fans and like any fandom they are vocal and loyal in their support. They have attempted to defend their man and I give them credit for that. It's just that he's been declared the new king of tennis. The current King has never quit during a match no matter what. The Crown Prince played after his body told him no, at the US Open where I saw him physically collapse on court, and during the final at Chennai which I also saw, where he couldn't even move or go after balls. Talking heads love to talk about the final score at Chennai. They don't mention the marathon match the day before. Inconvenient fact.

Yes Rafa's coming back from 4-0 in the second set is amazing. But I think a lot of folks would rather concentrate on that than on the way Djokovic behaved. He showed no respect to his backers, his fans, or his sport with his behavior. That is the biggest story of Monte Carlo 2008 for me. How the tennis press covers Djokovic going forward will be very interesting. I can assure you that PMac and his posse will pretend it never happened unless Pam or Mary bring it up at which point a dismissive comment will be made about clay and moving on. I hope I'm wrong.

Note: The picture at the top is edited. By me. I like it better this way.


rabbit said...

Savannah, Roger was not losing in the Estoril final when Davydenko retired. He was up a set. He was down a break in the second, but Davydenko's serve is not unbreakable.

Savannah said...

Davy was up 2-0. Yes Roger was up a set but you can't say he was winning yet either. There was no good live feed this year so I can't say how either man was playing. Either way you look at it though it was a gift.

rabbit said...

OK, I see. I meant that Federer was in a superior position scorewise. Neither player was playing that well, but that might have been the weather conditions. Also, the break in the second might have been due to the fact that Federer was not sure what was going on with Davydenko's leg. Anyways, I completely agree that the victory was gifted and the result was definitely not a given.

Another point: At Monte Carlo, Federer did face some hard opposition before meeting Djokovic in Nalbandian...

I forgot to say earlier, but that was a beautiful and very informative post overall :) Thanks so very much!

Savannah said...

Neither Roger nor Rafa had cakewalks. Djokovic had the softest draw of the three.

Thank you for the complement rabbit.

tangerine said...

"Novak has his fans and like any fandom they are vocal and loyal in their support. They have attempted to defend their man and I give them credit for that."

To be honest, I haven't seen many Novak fans defend his retirement. From what I've seen the vast majority of them were disgusted and disappointed. He also got roasted by his own home media in Serbia and rightfully so. Federer managed to finish his AO semi suffering from mono I'd think maybe Novak could finish his match with a sore throat.

"I also won't talk about how ET is favoring the American tournament directors at this point. We can bitch and moan about the loss of Hamburg to Madrid but Hamburg's suit is still pending."

Hamburg is not nearly as popular, either fan-wise or money-wise, as Indian Wells and Miami so it makes sense to favor those 2 AMS over Hamburg. Also, Hamburg will forever be tainted by the stabbing of Monica Seles by a deranged fan who didn't spend one day in jail for it. That's European justice for you.

"believe it or not some American fans are able to see the big picture since we are tennis fans first and will watch tennis no matter who is playing....we're not all head in the sand don't care about the rest of the world of tennis fans. Keep up the good work."

Should the US lose it's two most popular AMS series then tennis will be as close to dead in the states as it can get. That means less tennis on our TVs and no future American tennis stars being groomed because less money will be going into the USTA and grassroots growth of the sport. Do you really want to see tennis die in the states? I sure don't.

oddman said...

Very nice post, Savannah. This gasping and struggling act has been Joker's MO for years. I still remember how he pulled that in a win over Monfils at the USO Jrs. Nothing new, and if the pundits are shocked and surprised by it, then they weren't looking in the first place. (and I suggest they go and re-read his presser following that semi) Let's hope this instance doesn't get glossed over. There's absolutely no integrity there. The 'man' is ranked 3 in the world, has beaten both the No. 1 and 2 players, has won a slam, and he pulls that? As I said in Craig's earlier article, I was not surprised at all. I feel for those fans of his - how do you defend Joker's actions at MC? Surely some eyes were opened this time. I can hope.
As for Fed's 'Be quiet' bark, I thought it was OK, actually. He was being screeched at by the Joke entourage about a line call, which was over-ruled and which he agreed with. We haven't heard Joker's mom say anything this time in her defense, as opposed to the crap she was talking at the AO. 'Feeling threatened by the fans...' Gimme a break!
It will be interesting to hear what the commentators have to say next time Joker's playing. How is this gonna be spun, if at all?

Savannah said...

Tangerine none of the US events was ever in danger. It was always the clay events that were threatened and that was why the European players were angry. There will be only two "TMS" events on clay going forward. Everything else will be hard court or indoors.

Hamburg was the one everyone knew was in danger for the reasons you state. Monte Carlo will be downgraded. Most of the 1000 series events will be in the States, Canada or Asia. No wonder the US TD's are happy with ET. And Hamburg is suing.

It hasn't been a secret that American men are horrid on clay. Instead of trying to improve their skills the deck is being stacked against the rest of the world.

Young Americans, Sam Querrey among them, seem to be willing to learn to play in the dirt. This should be encouraged.

I didn't know the Serbian press reamed him. Interesting.
I do know some of his fans tried to defend him.

oddman said...

As you said on your own blog, Savannah, Rafa has repeatedly commented to the press about this whole change in MS tournaments and the loss of clay events in Europe. But damn it, it seems no one is listening at all. Stacked deck for North America. Really too bad, as I'm sure tennis enjoys fans from all over the globe. You think the ATP would encourage that.

Helen W said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Helen W said...

Here's a story from ESPN quoting Rafa on this subject. Other players, including Roger, have spoken out as well. has a poll on this subject, so if you care, please vote.

Please, ATP, listen to your players!

oddman said...

Just following now, and read that Rafa has his left shoulder bandaged. What gives there?

Helen W said...

From the BBC, here is the ATP's response.

I hope this inspires the players to work together to deal with the problem.

Savannah said...

Just voted in the poll. Thanks for the link Helen.

Helen W said...

Actually, the way's polls tell if you have already voted is by putting a cookie on your hard drive. The cookie is named cookie:(loginID) and can be found in the directory C:\Documents and Settings\(loginID)\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files where loginID is the name you use to log onto your machine. Anyone can vote again by simply deleting the cookie (although I realize no-one on this board would do such a thing :)).

Helen W said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Helen W said...

Now ESPN has a similar poll. (Its cookie is named cookie:(loginID) ....)

Helen W said...

Here is an article by Justin Gimelstob singing Rafa's praises. I have never heard Justin's commentary, but I agree with this article -- Rafa is mammothly underappreciated for his achievements.

Helen W said...

This is only tangentially related to the current discussion, but here is Peter Bodo's article describing Maria Sharapova's issues with the WTA. I have never been a great Pova fan; nevertheless I am 100% behind her in this. I'm appalled at how little both the WTA and ATP seem to care about their players.

paula said...

Savannah- what a great, well informed piece.

I am not a hater in general, but I do have players who I don't LUV, and Djoker is one of them.

And it does make sense to me that Djok too flack in the Serbian Press or elsewhere. A sore throat?! Bad, bad manners. Let's see if all the bad press forces him to grow up, and lose like a man.

But because I am sillier than most humans, I also proposed on my blog, in the comment section, that he go through a spanking machine (remember those? as a kid? you crawl through a tunnel and kids spank you?) the length of Serbia. And now that I know the Serbian Press is pissed at him, I propose doing the actual spanking machine in Serbia! We can all fly there and join in!

oddman said...

helen w, thank you for the link for that article by Justin. What a great compliment by the mighty Pete Sampras! Yes, the number two's achievements are often overshadowed by the number one guy. That's OK, Rafa is number one in my book, and many others too.
Vamos, King of Clay!

Beth said...

Yes, thank you for the link to Justin's piece on Rafa! I, too, think the enormity of his clay court achievements are a tremendous legacy in modern tennis. To win that many matches on clay is simply astounding - last count it was 101 out of 102! I hope having his shoulder taped is not a harbinger of anything serious....then again, why would he be taping it if wasn't necessary? When I think of what he and the others still must go through - Rome and Hamburg yet - before the French, I am wondering who will actually be in that Draw when it becomes available on May 23rd. I am saying my prayers that Nadal will be fit and healthy for his 4th French. :-)

Helen W said...

Hey oddman I am happy to see that Rafa was not wearing his shoulder bandage during his match today. I searched in vain to find any kind of explanation for the bandage -- did you see anything about it?

oddman said...

helen w, all I could find out was that he was wearing it as a precautionary thing, sort of like how he tapes his knees now. Rafa was saying the balls in Monte Carlo were 'heavier' and just put a bit of strain on the shoulder. Can't be too bad though, a 50 minute beatdown on Wawrinka today. Ouch!
Vamos, Rafa! Gonna be harder to beat his good pal Ferru tomorrow. I have a bad feeling David's going to make Rafa work his famous ass off for this title.
(incidentally, I'm enjoying FO 07 tonight, since there's nothing on my TV.)

Helen W said...

Woo hoo oddman! On to Rome :)

vw said...

how do you defend Joker's actions at MC?

He tested positive for Strep after MC and may pull out of Rome