Tag Archive: London


Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Andy Murray comes to London as World No.3 and needs a good result in order to finish at that position for the first time in his career. Playing in front of a hometown crowd has proved both good and bad for Murray, however based on recent form, he should be in good favor.

Murray chose not to play in a ATP tournament in preparing for the 2011 Australian Open. As the fifth seed, Murray would drop just one set, to David Ferrer, prior to making his second consecutive finals appearance at Melbourne Park. He would lose a lopsided straight set final to Novak Djokovic, making him 0-3 in career grand Slam Finals, having yet to win even a set.

Following the loss in Australia, Murray fell into what has almost become a habitual slump. He had three very frustrating first round losses at Rotterdam (l. to Baghdatis), Masters 1000 Indian Wells (l. to Young) and Masters 1000 Miami (l. to Bogomolov Jr.). These poor results came with heavy criticism, and much speculation as the coach-less Murray searched for answers.

During the European clay court swing, Murray found his lost form and advanced to the semi-finals of both the Monte-Carlo and Rome Masters, where he pushed eventual winner Djokovic to three sets. Murray followed those impressive results with a semifinal showing at Roland Garros.

Murray would play at Queen’s Club to prepare for Wimbledon, where he would defeat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final. At Wimbledon, the expectations on Murray are always high. He is under constant pressure by the British media, as he holds the hopes of a tennis crazed country. He would reach the semifinals at Wimbledon before losing to defending champion Rafael Nadal.

During the North-American hard court season, Murray again looked to have a lasting impact from the loss at Wimbledon, making yet another early exit in Montreal. He would lose in the second round to South African, Kevin Anderson.

In typical Murray fashion, he would go on to win the Cincinnati Masters, handing Novak Djokovic his second loss of the season.

At the 2011 US Open, Murray would reach a fourth consecutive semifinal at a Grand Slam, where he would again lose to defending champion Nadal.

Murray went undefeated during the fall Asian swing, with tournament victories at Bangkok, Tokyo and the Shanghai Masters. Combining the good results, and Roger Federer taking an extended break following the US Open, Murray would move up to World No.3 in the rankings.

Murray arrives to London in top form, after posting impressive results following the US Open.

For more updates please follow us on Twitter @TennisOnTennis

AFP PHOTO JACQUES DEMARTHON

Roger Federer is a five-time champion at the Barclay’s ATP World Tour Finals, and will be making his tenth consecutive appearance.  He is the third player to qualify for the year end championship for 10 or more consecutive years, joining Ivan Lendl (12) and Pete Sampras (11). He will arrive to London on a 12 match winning streak, and the defending champion from 2010.

Many consider 2011 to be a down year for Federer. He did not win a Grand Slam title for the first time since he first won Wimbledon in 2003, however, he is victim to his own high standards.

Federer opened the 2011 ATP World Tour season exactly where he left off 2010. He was clearly the best player on tour to close out 2010, and picked up his first title in 2011, at his first tournament in Doha. He would not lose a set in five matches and defeated Nikolay Davydenko 6-3 6-4 in the final.

Federer arrived to the 2011 Australian Open as the defending champion, and looking like the player to beat.  Federer would eventually fall in the semifinals to Novak Djokovic in straight sets. The loss would mark Federer’s second consecutive loss to Djokovic in the semifinal of a Grand Slam.

Federer would reach the finals in his next tournament, The Dubai 500, where he would once again meet Djokovic, who was just beginning his unprecedented start to his own 2011 season. Djokovic would defeat Federer 6-3 6-3 in the final.

In March, during the North-American hard court season,  Federer would reach the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells semifinals losing to none other than Djokovic, 3-6 6-3 2-6 for the third consecutive tournament, which also saw him slip to World No. 3. At the next tournament in Miami, Federer would again reach the semifinals and lose, this time to Rafael Nadal, in a somewhat lopsided match 3-6 2-6.

Federer would begin his clay season at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte Carlo, losing in the quarterfinals to then World No. 9 Jurgen Melzer, Federer’s first loss on the year to a player not named Djokovic or Nadal.  At his next tournament at the Masters 1000 Madrid, Federer would again reach the semifinals, losing yet again to Nadal, 7-5 1-6 3-6, dropping his head to head vs his main rival to 8-16.

At Roland Garros, Federer played arguably his best ever tennis on the red clay. Djokovic was in the midst of what was slowly becoming one the great all time winning streaks in tennis history. Djokovic had defeated Federer in three consecutive finals, and would face him yet again in the semifinals of the French. In what might go down as the best match of the year, in a year where Djokovic won everything, Federer would stand victorious. Federer defeated Djokovic, handing him his first loss of 2011, in a thrilling four set match. However, the high of defeating Djokovic would only last for one day, as he lost to Nadal 7-5 7-6(3) 5-7 6-1 in the final.

Wimbledon, a place where Federer made his home in past years, was again, for the second consecutive year; his worst Slam result. He fell to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 3-6 6-7(3) 6-4 6-4 6-4 in the quarterfinals, letting slip away a two sets to love lead for the first time; previously holding a 178-0 Grand Slam win-loss record when winning the first two sets.

Federer would again meet Tsonga in the third round of the ATP Masters Montreal, and again Tsonga would win. In Cincinnati, Federer would reach the quarterfinals, before losing to Tomas Berdych.  Not the ideal preparations for the upcoming US Open, but at this stage in his career, he is looking to peak when it matters most.

At the 2011 US Open, all eyes were again on Djokovic, the new World No. 1; and his chances of winning his third Grand Slam title of 2011. Federer displayed near flawless tennis throughout the rain soaked two weeks, leading up to and half way through his semifinal encounter with Djokovic. Federer looked like he was primed for another upset of Djokovic, and held two match points. Federer squandered those, and wound up losing 6-7(7) 4-6 6-3 6-2 7-5. This tournament will be remembered because of the ridiculous shot Djokovic hit to save the first match point, even more so than the eventual outcome.

Following an extensive break, and pulling out of the entire Asian fall swing, Federer would end a 10-month title-drought winning his hometown Basel tournament for the second straight year. Federer would follow that result by winning his first ever ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Paris title, with a revengeful beating of Tsonga 6-1 7-6(3) in the final.

Federer is in the same group as Rafael Nadal for the Round Robin stage of the Barclay’s World Tour Finals, for the first time. The two met in the final of the 2010 event, where Federer won in impressive fashion. It seems that the indoor hard courts, are now Federer’s favorite surface, and suits his game favorably. For the second straight year, Federer will arrive to London as the favorite to win his record sixth year end championship.

For more updates please follow us on Twitter @TennisOnTennis

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

David Ferrer will be making his 3rd appearance at the Barclay’s World Tour finals, coming into London ranked World No. 5. Like Novak Djokovic in 2010, Ferrer arrives at the year end championships with a larger goal looming ahead, as he looks to peak for the Davis Cup finals against Argentina.

Ferrer started 2011 ranked No.6 and won his opening tournament of the year at Auckland, a title he had also previously won in 2007, his 10th ATP Tour title. Ferrer would reach the semifinal of the Australian Open by defeating fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal in straight sets. That would mark Ferrer’s second career semifinal appearance in a Grand Slam.

Ferrer would suffer a disappointing early loss at Rotterdam, before successfully defending his title at Acapulco, beating yet another fellow countryman, Nicolas Almagro in the finals.

The North-American hard court season would see Ferrer ousted in the first round at Indian Wells (l. to Karlovic), and a quarterfinals appearance in Miami, where he would run into a resurgent Mardy Fish.

During the European clay season, Ferrer showed his clay court roots by reaching his second career ATP Masters 1000 Final in Monte-Carlo (l. to Nadal), and followed that with a finals showing in Barcelona (l. to Nadal). He would make the quarterfinal of the Madrid Masters (l. to Djokovic), prior to his French Open campaign.  Following a very successful preparation to the French, he would lose to Gael Monfils in the fourth round, and judging by his previous clay results, that had to be considered a disappointment. His overall impressive results would help him jump to World No. 6 in ATP Rankings.

At Wimbledon, Ferrer would lose in the third round to Bernard Tomic, who some might say, came of age at Wimbledon; with the victory over Ferrer being a signature win on the youngster’s resume.

Ferrer would withdraw from the Montreal Masters, and in his return to the Tour in Cincinnati, he would lose in the 3rd round.

At the US Open, Ferrer would post another somewhat disappointing result at a Grand Slam, losing in the fourth round to Andy Roddick.

Following the US Open, as the tour turned to Asia, Ferrer would become victim to Andy Murray. He would lose in the semifinals of Tokyo, and the finals of the Shanghai Masters, to Murray on both occasions.

In 2010, Ferrer went 0-3 in the round robin stage of the Barclay’s World Tour Finals, but also owns a runner-up finish in 2007 (l. to Federer). He should never be overlooked, however, with the Davis Cup Finals still to come, he may be the one over looking the field.

For more updates please follow us on Twitter @TennisOnTennis

AFP PHOTO MIGUEL MEDINA

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will make his second appearance at the Barclay’s World Tour Finals, ranked at a career high World No. 6. He is the only Frenchmen to qualify, and in my opinion, one of the more intriguing qualifiers for the year end championships.

Tsonga’s year began with a semifinal appearance at Doha, where he would lose to eventual champion [Roger] Federer. That promising start to his 2011 campaign was followed up with a very disappointing performance at the Australian Open, losing  in the third round. Tsonga was a former finalist in Melbourne, and has yet to return to a Grand Slam final.

Tsonga plays a very unique style of tennis, combining his ability to hit a heavy, powerful ball, with variety, that is typical of his French background. When he is playing with confidence he certainly has the ability to beat anyone in the game. Nevertheless, those results have been far and few between because of his inconsistency week in and week out. During the North-American hard court spring, he would lose in the Round of 64 at Indian Wells (l. to Malisse), and in the Round of 32 in Miami (l. to Dolgopolov).

He would carry the poor performance on the hard courts, over to the European Clay season, entering in five tournaments overall, and posting a very middle of the pack 6-5 match record, never advancing past the Round of 32 at any of the clay events. That includes yet another early exit at Roland Garros, in front of his home crowd.

As the season switched to grass, a light bulb must have turned on inside the head of Tsonga.  His grass court performances were very impressive with a finals appearance at the Queen’s Club and a very impressive semifinal showing at Wimbledon, having to come back from two sets down in the quarterfinals against Federer to advance.

As the year progressed his results seemed to become more consistent. His run to the semifinal at the Montreal Masters marked a second consecutive victory over Federer. Tsonga would return to World No. 10 for the first time in almost exactly a year.

At the 2011 US Open, he would get to the quarterfinals before being beaten by a revengeful Federer.

Post US Open, Tsonga would go on to win his only two titles of 2011, at Metz and Vienna, and kept the momentum going with a finals appearance at the Paris Masters. He would again face an in form Federer, who would deny the Frenchmen a title in front of the home crowd.

Tsonga is a legitimate threat at the Barclay’s World Tour Finals, and could make life difficult for his group. He will face Federer yet again, on Sunday, in a rematch of the Paris Masters Final.

For more updates please follow us on Twitter @TennisOnTennis

AFP PHOTO JACQUES DEMARTHON

Tomas Berdych will make his second consecutive appearance at the Barclay’s ATP World Tour Finals, presently ranked at No.7. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga overtook him by reaching the finals at the Paris Masters in the past week. Berdych should have no shortage of confidence as he beat Andy Murray in a thrilling quarterfinal of the Paris Masters, and also owns a win over Roger Federer (Cincinnati).

Berdych started the year at World No.6 and reached the semifinals at the Chennai Open (l. to Wawrinka). He kept that momentum going to reach the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, where he ran into the eventual champion Novak Djokovic losing in straight sets.

Although Berdych has been fairly consistent in 2011, he has had trouble getting past the quarterfinal round. He would reach back-to-back quarterfinals in Rotterdam (l. to Tsonga) and Marseille (l. to Cilic) before finally going one better with a semifinal showing in Dubai. However he was forced to retired with a left quadriceps injury in the third set against Djokovic.

When the tour transitioned to the North-American hard court swing, Berdych would lose in the 3rd round of Indian Wells (l. to Wawrinka), before returning to the quarterfinals in Miami, losing in three sets to then World No. 1 Rafael Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-3.

On the red clay (soon to be blue in Madrid), Berdych would reach the quarterfinals in Madrid and Rome. At Roland Garros, Berdych would see the low point of his 2011 season, when he fell to Stephane Robert 3-6 3-6 6-2 6-2 9-7 in a 1st round upset. This would see him fall to World No. 7.

At Wimbledon, coming off a run to his first final in a Grand Slam in 2010, Berdych would crash out in the Round of 16, in a loss to then World No. 9 Mardy Fish.

At the 2011 US Open, Berdych was forced to retire in the Round of 32, in what would end a very disappointing year in the Grand Slams.

Although consistently reaching quarterfinal stages of almost every Masters level tournament this season, the question of when Berdych will take that next step still remains.  He has the big hitting game to compete with the top players on tour, however, his level seems to take a dive on the big stage.

He won his only title of 2011 in Beijing, at the China Open, after coming back from a set down to beat Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Berdych will be making his second consecutive appearance at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals after qualifying for the season finale at the Paris Masters tournament, last week. He eventually lost in the semifinal to Roger Federer.

For more updates please follow us on Twitter @TennisOnTennis

On to London

GROUP A

Novak Djokovic (1)

Andy Murray (3)

David Ferrer (5)

Tomas Berdych (7)

GROUP B

Rafael Nadal (2)

Roger Federer (4)

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (6)

Mardy Fish (8)

Format

All players play three round-robin matches against rivals in their group to determine a winner and runner-up from each group, who advance to the knockout stage of the tournament. In the semi-finals the winner of Group A plays the runner-up of Group B and the winner of Group B plays the runner-up of Group A. Semi-final winners advance to the final.

Sunday – Order of Play

Not Before 2:00 PM
[4] R Federer (SUI) vs [6] J Tsonga (FRA)

Not Before 8:00 PM
[2] R Nadal (ESP) vs [8] M Fish (USA)

Monday – Order of Play

Not Before 2:00 PM
[3] A Murray (GBR) vs [5] D Ferrer (ESP)

Not Before 8:00 PM
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs [7] T Berdych (CZE)

Points, Prize Money

South African Airways ATP Rankings Points (Singles & Doubles)
Round-robin match win 200
Semi-final win 400
Final win 500
Undefeated champion 1500
Singles Prize Money
Alternate $70,000
Participation Fee $120,000
Round-robin match win $120,000
Semi-final match win $380,000
Final win $770,000
Undefeated champion $1,630,000 
Doubles Prize Money
Alternate $25,000
Participation Fee $65,000
Round-robin match win $22,500
Semi-final match win $30,000
Final win $125,000
Undefeated champion $287,500

Rafael Nadal

By REUTERS
Published: October 13, 2011 at 12:48 PM ET

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – London risks losing the showcase end-of-season ATP World Tour Finals because of the high rate of tax, world number one Rafael Nadal said at the Shanghai Masters on Thursday.

The Spaniard believes the 50 percent tax on players’ appearance fees, winnings and a proportion of their worldwide endorsement earnings could see the glamour event featuring the top eight men being staged elsewhere unless the law is changed.

“It is really tough what is happening today in the UK with the tax. There are a lot of things that are really positive. This (tax) thing is probably really negative,” he said after losing in the third round to German Florian Mayer.

“What I believe in my heart, is that London is a fantastic event. There’s a full crowd at every match, a fantastic stadium. But London is not the only city in the world,” he said.

The five-year contract for the ATP World Tour Finals, staged at the 02 Arena, comes up for renewal in 2013 but Nadal indicated that growing discontent could see players pushing for the event to be moved to a more favourable tax environment.

“The tax regime from UK is complicating a lot of things because to go and play at Queen’s, the problem is not to win. The problem is I can lose money because I go there.

“I play for one week, and they take out money from my sponsors. That’s a lot,” he said of the Wimbledon warm-up event he has decided to skip next year in favour of playing at Halle.

“I’m going play at Wimbledon. I’m going to play in the World Tour Finals. So that is a lot of weeks, a lot of tax. It is becoming more and more complicated to play in the UK at the moment,” he said.

TAX CHANGE

However, a change to the tax regime could help London renew its contract for the ATP finals, added the Spaniard.

“So (if there is a tax) change, the chances of keeping the World Tour Finals in London are going to be very, very high,” he said.

Nadal dismissed suggestions in the British media that he had decided to play the Halle event in Germany instead of Queen’s because he had been offered a higher appearance fee.

“For the last four years, I have played at Queen’s. So we thought it is the right moment to change. I am not changing because Halle is paying me more money than Queen’s. That’s not the reason,” he said.

Wimbledon chief executive Ian Ritchie called on the government earlier this year to change the tax laws or risk Britain losing some of tennis’s marquee events.

Government rules state that sportsmen and women competing or even just practising in the UK are taxed a proportion of their income from endorsements and sponsorships even if those deals have nothing to do with Britain.

The rules are the reason triple Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt has stayed away from the London Diamond League meetings and there are also fears they could affect some of the country’s smaller golf tournaments.

For more updates please follow us on Twitter @TennisOnTennis

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Fall Frenzy

The annual ATP World Tour Finals has a special place in tennis lore for many fans and players alike. However, it is a topic of heated debate, as gripes surrounding scheduling at the end of a long year, seem to be an annual event as well. Critics and detractors of the event often cite that the significance of the tournament should not be on even footing with the Grand Slam events, when considering career resumes between the all-time greats. Some prefer Davis Cup titles, others just prefer to either diminish the tournament or raise it’s importance, simply in an effort to portray their favorite players in a better light.

So my question becomes – What is the true significance of the ATP World Tour Finals? I like the idea of a year ending tournament, a kind of “playoff” for tennis, comparable to the very successful FedEx cup in golf, however, I’m not sure all of the players take it seriously. In 2010, question marks surrounded Novak Djokovic’s true motivation, because he was preparing for a Davis Cup final a few days later. Are we supposed to expect that same attitude from Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer in 2011?

Rafael Nadal has never won a ATP World Tour Final, and it’s a slight hole on his career resume, depending on who you are asking. He made a strong case in 2010, and let it be known that he had his sights set on winning in London. Will he be as focused this year, as Spain prepares to take on Argentina in the Davis Cup Finals?

The Calendar

As we are all familiar with by now, the players (Murray, Nadal) are unhappy. Talks of a strike are dominating the tennis headlines, and the threats appear to be real, although nobody has formally met at this point. Leading the charge are Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal. While I am of the opinion that a player strike is bad for the sport, I do think having a players union might be a progressive move in the right direction.

Murray’s threats of strike might be a little premature, but his frustrations stem from the annual ATP calendar and the strict requirements. Sixty-seven events are played on the men’s calendar across 32 countries on six continents. Events are classified as Grand Slams (four in a year), ATP World Tour Masters 1000 series (9), Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (WTF; season-finale event), ATP World Tour 500 series (11) and ATP World Tour 250 (42). This is excluding the Davis Cup. In accordance with ATP rules, players are ranked on the basis of the past 52 weeks’ performance.

A player’s total points from four Grand Slams, nine Masters 1000 series, the Barclays ATP WTF (if he qualifies) are accounted for, in addition to the best four and best two results from any of the ATP 500 events and ATP 250 events, respectively. In all, he needs to play at least 18 events to prop his rankings.

The ATP calendar is admittedly long, and despite the unusual spike in retirements at the 2011 US Open, statistics* show that overall retirements were down in 2011 compared to years past.  There had been 187 withdrawals this year leading up to the US Open, against 378 in 2006, 270 in 2007, 256 in 2008, 242 in 2009, and 309 in 2010.

I found that number to be very interesting, and led me to question what the complaints were all about. Was it just a bad day at the office, that led to some misplaced thoughts, that maybe Murray shouldn’t have aired in public forum?

One telling stat is the number of matches played by the top players each year. Since 2005, Andy Murray has never once played more then 80 matches in one season.

Murray has played an average of 58.85 matches per year, his highest being 77 in 2009. During that same time period, Nadal has played an average of 81.57 matches per year, his highest being 93 in 2008. Federer has played an average of 78.85 matches per year, his highest being 97 in 2006; and finally, Djokovic has played an average of 70.42 matches per year, his highest being 97 in 2009. Of all the people to be most outspoken, Murray has played the least amount of tennis since 2005.

AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF

Tennis at the highest level, is a grind, which makes the 30-year-old Federer’s staying power all the more remarkable. He has had recurring back problems in the past and had mononucleosis in early 2008, however, he has not missed a Grand Slam tournament in the last decade and has played in the tour championships every year in which he has qualified, beginning in 2002. Federer is the exception not the example. His longetivity is something to be admired, and something today’s generation willl most likely not be able to emulate. The physical toll Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal put on their body, will not allow for the type of run Federer has endured.

“It means a lot to him,” said Federer’s agent, Tony Godsick. “Not enough for him to go chase the points in Asia when he was hurt and risk further injury. Guys don’t seem to take a lesson from Roger in terms of giving their body a break. But Roger wants this.”

The lesson here is that a player’s true legacy is marked by winning. Whether it be a Masters 1000, or an ATP 250, a Grand Slam, or the World Tour Finals.

So when considering the significance of the ATP World Tour Finals, I come back to motivation. What motivates a player at the end of a grueling season to compete in November?

I think it’s a player’s legacy, or his foot print on the game in the grand scheme of things. It is often forgotten, that when fans, media, John McEnroe, etc,  hand out report cards; or make claims to the “best season ever,” that we are still currently entrenched in that season, or that era.

Why not wait to make those claims. Let it play out. Write that chapter, once the current chapter is closed. I don’t think it is fair to compare Federer’s 2005-2008 with Djokovic’s one great season, or Nadal’s 2010. It is a larger picture that needs painting. Imagine if a construction company quit building a 10 story building after the 2nd floor, because they were so inspired by that floor. It would not only look incomplete, but it would be incomplete.

Barclays ATP World Tour Finals

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

The World Tour Finals draw includes only the Top 8 players of that year – essentially starting the tournament in the quarterfinal stage, where the top 8 players are “expected” to end up in a Grand Slam draw anyways.

The tournament itself has somewhat of a forgotten past. It has changed names numerous times, and spanned different continents during it’s extended history. However, one thing has remained the same. Each year it crowns a champion from among the year’s top players.

The tournament can trace it’s roots back to 1970, when it was called The Masters. Later it become the ATP Tour World Championship in 1990, when it was transported from New York’s Madison Square Garden to Frankfurt. It was renamed the Tennis Masters Cup in 2000.

In 2009, it was rebranded again as the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, and moved to London’s O2 Arena. Despite the challenge of locating the tournament from year to year, and the ever changing names; there has been very few weak links in its roster of champions. In the 41 years of existence, only three men have won the tournament, who have also never won a Grand Slam singles title: Alex Corretja in 1998, David Nalbandian in 2005, and Nikolay Davydenko in 2009. The three men who have won it most are Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl, and Roger Federer, each with five titles.

It is the last scheduled ATP Tour event on the long calendar, and allows for players to see a finish line. Players at that point can make a decision mentally to give it their full dedicated efforts, prior to the upcoming vacation; or check out mentally because they have visions of beaches, clouding their minds.

In 2010, Federer had by far the best fall among all the players. After losing to Djokovic at the 2010 US Open, Federer took a month off. Then he went on a 21-2 run for the fall, losing only to Murray (final of Shanghai) and Gael Monfils (semis of Paris Bercy). Looking back, it now seems that perhaps the only major difference between Federer and Djokovic in 2010 and 2011 was nothing more complicated than one or two shots at a time, in Federer’s case, two match points at a time. Djokovic lost to Federer three times last fall (in Shanghai, the final of Basel, and the semis of the ATP World Tour Finals), but has since developed into Djokovic 2.0 – losing only 3 times since his semifinal loss to Federer at the ATP World Tour Finals.

The X-factor in this situation becomes the Davis Cup. If Djokovic didn’t face the Davis Cup final immediately following the World Tour Finals, I wonder if he would have given Federer a better match. That’s not to say Federer didn’t deserve the win, he was clearly the best player on tour last fall. But the timing does have a factor in preparation.

In light of the schedule talks, and the idea of forming a players union, Jim Courier may have summed it all up best. He told Tennis Grandstand the schedule needed to be changed because it would keep the top players on the court longer, which benefits everyone. “But let’s be clear, that everyone in this sport, since Billie Jean King and Arthur Ashe and Stan Smith fought for Open tennis, we’ve all been overpaid, grossly overpaid, for what we do. So let’s be clear that this is not a pity party, but I don’t think that player representation is necessarily a bad thing.”

He added, “It’s not about the immediacy of we want this or we want that because we need immediate gain, and the off-season is a no-brainer, it needs to happen, but we’ve been saying that for thirty years and it hasn’t happened.”

The irony of all of the schedule talks is that current (not for long) ATP executive chairman and president, Adam Helfant, announced last year that the off-season on the men’s tour would be seven weeks, up from four weeks presently, starting 2012. So with that said, they are actually getting the longer off season they desire.

I hope that the fall portion of 2011 brings even a fraction of the excitement that 2010 had. The main issue here is that the focus has shifted from the tennis on the court, to the issues off the court. Change takes time.

For more updates please follow us on Twitter @TennisOnTennis

*Source: ATP World Tour

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 650 other followers