Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's The Schedule, Stupid

Steve berates the long tennis season for the umpteenth time.


What does it say about a sport when its two most important names, the two names and bodies that have been asked to resurrect tennis with their rivalry, are physically broken by the end of a single season? Like Roddick says, the punishing nature of the schedule, its length, and its travel requirements are eternal topics of discussion. But its excessiveness has never been displayed as plainly as it was in Shanghai. Federer is participating in a doubles exhibition this coming week, but for the most part he and Nadal limited themselves to the ATP’s lineup of mandatory tournaments in 2008. That includes the final two post-U.S. Open Masters events, in Madrid and Paris. Fairly or not, these remain the culprits in this story: Nadal and Federer injured themselves while trying to stay in shape to play them. Not to win them—I doubt they cared much about that—just to play them. Some relief may come to the schedule in 2009, but Roddick, who reiterated his thoughts about it last week, remains correct: The season will still end in November, and it will still include two mandatory post-Open Masters events (this time in Paris and China), as well as the Masters Cup. And it will, in all likelihood, continue to hurt the sport’s most valuable property, Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer.

When will the powers that be get it? The worldwide financial crisis will likely affect tournament sponsorships for 2009. Will that spearhead the beginning of serious talks for a shorter, not just a reorganized, calendar?

5 comments:

Tennisnakama said...

OR the ATP mandatory rules should be loosened. Because of this change, some won't survive because they can't attract top players. So be it.

The worst scenario is that not only Federer vs Nadal matches will be gone, but all the matches will be gone.

kraa said...

Shorter season will never happen. Too many financial interests from post-USO tournaments. Expansion into Asia would be impossible with the tour ending after USO.

Also most lower ranked players (below top 10) want to play more to earn extra points and money.

Craig Hickman said...

But kraa, if you can't get a sponsor for an event, what top players will show up?

Let the season be "unending."

But if post-USO turns into a glorified challenger circuit, well, then....

kraa said...

Of course, but that would be a forced change not something players or ATP will ever choose voluntarily...

I don't think ATP/WTA is particularly vulnerable financially. Global nature of the sport is very helpful in this case. Ever heard of any big tournament folding because of financial problems? I haven't.

Craig Hickman said...

Eastbourne lost its main sponsor last year. I could see several fall events have trouble keeping sponsors. The financial crisis is global, after all.