Changeover Chat: Does the World Tour Finals Format Need to Change?

After yesterday’s low-quality match between Roger Federer and David Ferrer, followed by a lackluster display of tennis between Juan Martin del Potro and a half-dead Janko Tipsarevic, we discuss the ATP World Tour Finals and ways to solve its shortcomings in a Changeover Chat, a quick back and forth between the writing staff at The Changeover.

Juan José: The World Tour Finals have been a flop so far. We haven’t had a single compelling match. Murray-Djokovic looked like one, but really wasn’t.

Lindsay: I’m still not recovered from the horrific two three-setters from Wednesday.

Juan José: What’s killing me is how perfect the execution of the event is these days. The scheduling of matches is perfect. In terms of pure logistics and the way the World Tour Finals look, I think they’re as close to perfection as you can get. But the product has sucked badly. Half the guys are burned out. The quality has been poor, to say the least. I think part of the problem might be that the format is wrong. I know why we have round robin – to guarantee three matches from the top players. But wouldn’t a 16-player NCAA-style thing be much more fun? No random draw: just straight seeding. 1 vs 16, 2 vs 15. No draw conspiracies.

Amy: I have to say, I hate the idea of having 16 players, because half the fun is watching who can qualify for the top 8.

Lindsay: I like the ATP Race to 8. But the actual race itself hasn’t been compelling at all the past few years.

Juan José: The race only starts in earnest after the US Open ends – i.e, when tennis dies in the minds of most people, so how is that fun? Also, how was this year’s race fun? Everybody backed into it.

Amy: Technically, it begins at the beginning of the year. It heats up at the end of the US Open, but it rewards year-long success. If I were a player like Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin del Potro, or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, I’d be making that a goal for the year. For example, del Potro had a great comeback year in 2011, but wasn’t able to qualify for the World Tour Finals. It was a big deal for him to get back in that mix this year after such a long road back from injury.

Juan José: But nobody challenged that group of players you mention! They stayed the course and made it. Like everybody knew they would.

Lindsay: I remember when Mardy Fish made it last year, he talked over and over about how much it meant. Same for Tipsarevic, which is why he’s still playing. And I remember when Roddick qualified for the 8th year in a row how special that was. It’s a nice reward for players who aren’t in Grand Slam contention due to the Big Four, but have still had stellar wins.

Juan José: Wouldn’t it be more fun if you had someone who really caught fire at the end of the year go? Say like … Janowicz?

Lindsay: But how is that fair to reward sporadic success? It has to be based on full year, otherwise it’s not fair. I have talked about the fun of wildcards for the WTFs before, but when I think seriously about it, it’s not appropriate.

Amy: I’m with Lindsay. I don’t like the idea of wildcards for year-end championships. Sure, you might be able to have a hot player in the tournament, but do they really deserve it? Qualifying for the World Tour Finals is a big honor, especially for the borderline qualifiers.

Juan José: I didn’t mean rewarding people with wildcards. But by expanding the field to 16 players, you might get someone in at the very end who is actually playing well. It also gives guys outside the top 10 something to fight for.

Lindsay: There are so many points given out at the event. I wouldn’t mind having wildcards or a bigger field if it were an exo-type Pro Bowl thing.

Juan José: The main issue is the date of the event. It has to happen two weeks after the US Open, or bust. Right now it’s essentially meaningless. It’s this thing we’re supposed to care about, but so many people clearly don’t.

Amy: It was a poor decision giving them no rest between Paris and the World Tour Finals. It obviously affected the results in Paris. And the World Tour Finals qualifiers who made the trip to Paris, though they lost early, are probably tired now too. If there had been a week between the two events, I don’t think it would’ve been quite so bad.

Juan José: That was an awful call, I agree.

Lindsay: But the players lobbied for it so much. If I recall correctly, they wanted a shorter tennis season, and kept saying, “We’re here, right by the tournament, then we have a week off for no reason?” At least I know Roddick said that a lot.

Juan José: The sad truth is, tennis more or less dies after the US Open.

Amy: For true diehards, the tennis season never ends!

Lindsay: The right thing to do would be to have a smaller event the week before. Having it be a Masters 1000 is too much. Have a 250 or 500 or something, and then only players still qualifying can play.

Amy: That makes sense.

Juan José: To me, the solution to everything would be to ditch the idea of a calendar season. Do what other sports like soccer or the NBA do and have a season spread across two years. That way you can “start” the season about two months after the US Open, with smaller tournaments. I’m not advocating for a two-year ranking, but I want a tennis season that starts at the end of November and ends in September of the following year.

Lindsay: I think it makes sense to move Paris to February like they’re talking about.

Amy: Agreed.

Juan José: It’s a no-brainer. Still, Paris is a very small part of the problem. The main issue is still the part of the season in which the WTF takes place right now. It’s after this second, slightly higher-end European indoor season, when guys already went to Europe to play indoors earlier in the year. There should be only one European indoor season; not two.

Lindsay: I completely agree with that. And with all the American indoor tournaments leaving (sad!) it could theoretically make room for a more concentrated/important European indoor season in February.

Juan José: The World Tour Finals is a glorified epilogue. The tennis season from January to early September is like a great novel. But after the novel is over, there are 30 pages of bibliography, ads and assorted filler before the actual epilogue. How does that make any sense?

Amy: If you put it the year-end championships in September, would it really be that much more exciting? I don’t think so.

Juan José: Of course it would! Because you could promote it during the US Open! And there’s actual drama IN the US Open for who qualifies or not, since you can get so many points at a Slam.

Amy: I disagree. I think the US Open crowd would tune out because the US Open just happened. After the summer stretch, particularly this year with Wimbledon, the Olympics, the American hard court season, and the US Open, even the most diehard tennis fans need a break. To squeeze in the year-end championships would be questionable. And it would have the same problems as it does now: burnout and fatigue from the players.

Juan José: Remember, I’m proposing a WTF two weeks AFTER the US Open, not immediately after. Two weeks fixes everything. But going back to the format, it’s essentially a glorified showcase. I mean … it’s played in a format that has no correlation to any tournament throughout the year! And it’s confusing!

Lindsay: It’s a Pro Bowl with ranking points. And you’re exactly right Juan José, the round-robin calculations suck. Let’s make this sport harder to understand, please.

Juan José: Ferrer might miss out on the semis even if he beats Tipsarevic in straight sets – all that needs to happen for that is for DelPo to beat Federer. If DelPo does come through … he would be in the semis and not the player who actually beat him, even though they both won the same number of matches. I hate round robin, honestly. There’s a reason it got scrapped mid-year when they tried it out in smaller tournaments. It’s confusing, and tennis is already confusing enough for fans.

Amy: I like round robin because players have more than one chance to earn a spot in the semis if they have a bad match-up. If you did it by draw, and Federer eliminated Ferrer in the first round, would that be better?

Lindsay: I like round robin too. But there has to be a way to simplify the scenarios so that we don’t need Nate Silver to understand them.

Amy: The way it is now, you get to see a lot of different match-ups. Even if one or two of them are duds, some of the rivalries are compelling. Last year, people were pumped about a Federer-Nadal round robin match, because it’s tennis’s biggest rivalry among casual fans.

Juan José: It was a great match, wasn’t it?

Amy: It wasn’t a bad match. It fell into that category of a match where one player (Federer) was in god-mode. That doesn’t make it a bad match; it makes it a less interesting match, yeah, but not necessarily bad.

Juan José: I’m sure half the audience didn’t think it was all that compelling (Nadal fans).

Amy: I’m sure you’re right. And the other half thought it was the best match they ever saw.

Lindsay: Federer doesn’t even remember the match.

Juan José: Thanks for making my point, Lindsay! To me, what irritates me the most, is that this WTF is such a wasted opportunity.

Amy: Realistically, though, the year-end championship even at its best won’t be a Slam. So what’s the aim?

Juan José: It has to be something AS BIG as a Slam. Not A Slam.

Lindsay: It doesn’t have to be as big as a Slam. But it should be at least as big as an Indian Wells/Miami. And this is just not.

Amy: I think the World Tour Finals can teach us one thing. You can’t really force or predict good tennis. You can bring together all the top players, and still get all boring matches. You can bring together players who are ranked outside the top 100 and have insanely great matches. Sure, this year we might end up with all duds. But changing the format wouldn’t necessarily guarantee greatness either. The WTA Championships format isn’t that different, and the scheduling is arguably worse. But you saw one of the best matches of the year, WTA or ATP, in Kerber vs. Azarenka.

Juan José: You can’t predict great tennis, but you can help your cause with little things like good scheduling. For example, the WTA Championships essentially sabotaged their own semifinals with their incomprehensible scheduling during their round robin matches.

Amy: Agreed. If you keep this round robin format, there will be some classics. If you change it to another, there might be some other classics. But tennis is unpredictable. So I guess my conclusion is that I’m okay with the current format, but a week of rest between Paris and the World Tour Finals is necessary.

Juan José: I’ll just state here that I hate the place in the calendar, I’m not a fan of the format, but at the very least they could help themselves with a week of rest before the tournament starts. The way things went this year, taking the empty week between Paris and the WTFs essentially affected both tournaments in a negative way. Paris was saved by Jerzy Janowicz – what will save these WTFs?

Lindsay: I think the biggest problem with these World Tour Finals is the feeling of inevitability and the feeling like we’ve seen this same tournament for the past two years. The ATP is one long streak of deja-vu.

Amy: Because the same players qualified?

Lindsay: Yup. And this just feels like lower-quality versions of matches we’ve seen all year, over and over. The consistency of the ATP is almost killing the World Tour Finals for me. But I am aware that it’s a personal problem for me, and that others feel differently. And I will say that if Delpo or Murray win it (or anyone else not Djoko-Fed, but they seem the likeliest) it’s a fun story.

Amy: You’re always going to have the arguments of whether consistency is fun to watch or if unpredictability is better. We’ve seen that dichotomy on the ATP and WTA Tours in recent years. I like both in moderate doses. For example, I enjoyed the fact that I could pick Djokovic confidently as the inevitable winner of the 2012 Australian Open, but I also enjoyed the fact that I couldn’t pick a winner on the women’s side. It’s kind of fun to have both. But all that said, if you’re a fan of unpredictable results, you probably won’t like the World Tour Finals the way it is now.

Juan José: I’m not a fan of complete chaos. I do want some semblance of consistent excellence.

Amy: From Paris, I think we can see that people hunger for a fresh player to break that dominance.

Lindsay: Agreed Amy. And I might add that last year Jo used his run to the Paris finals as a springboard for a run to the finals of the WTF. It really was a fun two weeks, and at least for me it added a kick that was needed at the end of the season. Gosh I wish Jo had some spark left this year. He does not.

Amy: If a player like Berdych or del Potro were to win the World Tour Finals this year, and use it to launch an amazing 2013, that would be exciting.

Juan José: But that’s the thing. Other than Federer, who has ever used a WTF win to launch a good year?

Amy: Well, who’s won the World Tour Finals for six of the last nine years?

Juan José: Right. The only exceptions are Nalbandián, Davydenko and Djokovic. All of whom failed to build upon WTF success. If you ask me, Davis Cup is a better launching pad for players whose initials aren’t RF.

Lindsay: So what’s the final verdict? Is there one? Are we ALL just without spark these days, or am I just feeling like that because I’m off sugar and not handling it very well?

Amy: In the end, the World Tour Finals are what you make of them. If you’re expecting the best tennis of the year just because you have the best players, you will probably be disappointed.

Lindsay: That should be their new slogan. “ATP WORLD TOUR FINALS: They are what you make of them.”

Juan José: ATP WORLD TOUR FINALS: Do NOT Expect Greatness – the guys are tired.

14 Responses

  1. patzin
    patzin November 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |

    I like the comment about the months encompassing the ‘season’ – doesn’t have to be calendar. I seem to recall Oz used to be in Dec and end of the season. It seems to make sense that it follow the other Asian tournaments, keeping those tournaments grouped together. Don’t know why it was moved to January (weather perhaps?). Grouping tournaments by ‘court type’ also makes sense, and outdoor tournies necessarily need decent weather. As to the WTF – don’t find the format interesting; include more players say top 10 or 12 and end the RR stages, might be more interesting and easy to follow. Could off season be Jan and Feb; starting new season in March for example? I think there are many good ways to improve the ATP tour.

    1. Juan José
      Juan José November 9, 2012 at 7:56 pm |

      I agree with all of your points! Thank you for that. I think the Australian Open is pretty much set on the dates they have right now because of Australia day. I would prefer to have it in December, but still be the first Slam of the year. Shanghai could be two weeks before, and in turn preceded by the usual Asia stuff that happens after the US Open. Then you could have a long indoor season in Europe, switching to clay in Latin America before IW and Miami.

      I thought about another idea for the WTF format: why not make it a league between the top 8? Everybody plays everybody. You get 7 matches from everyone, which has to be a selling point for the ATP. Winning the whole thing undefeated would be a crazy achievement, and losing a match wouldn’t mean imminent death. Every win is rewarded with say, 150 points, and the top three get additional points.

      Like you say, there are so many ways to improve the ATP schedule and the WTFs. Endless possibilities, really. Yet we’re still stuck with the status quo, which is far from ideal.

  2. Hannah Wilks
    Hannah Wilks November 10, 2012 at 9:04 am |

    Obviously I’m totally biased because I’m actually here (on the other hand, who has more right to be bored and disillusioned than me? No one, that’s who) but I think you are all being far too harsh on this event. You keep saying it doesn’t work for ‘most people’ and that ‘most people’ don’t care. Well, in terms of all humans in the world, that’s probably true, but what you actually mean is that diehard tennis fans don’t like it (despite caring enough to watch it and complain about it all). Maybe because it’s you’re in the States and American media, overwhelmingly, don’t seem to like this event at all: they certainly don’t make the trip over here (with a very few exceptions). But the arena is packed every day and the crowds have no complaints; thousands of people are loving it. It gets decent media coverage over here and there’s a room full of European press. It’s only ever going to be the Slams which expand beyond the boundaries of the sport itself in terms of mass attention, so I’m not sure what the failing of this tournament in capturing the imagination is supposed to be, exactly.

    It also seems like you’re blaming the event and its format for the shortcomings of the players. Basically, the problem is that we’ve had not-brilliant matches this year (and it has been the dullest year I can remember, to be honest) because the ATP has this sclerotic hegemony. No, the round robin hasn’t been thrilling and no, the race to this tournament wasn’t exciting. You know why? Because the ATP is just choked at the top with the same players. Whatever format this event took, you’d have the same problem and, frankly, it’s only diehard tennis fans who actually have a problem. It works great for everybody else. They can come knowing they’re going to see top players they recognize, and as terrible as everybody’s saying the tennis has been, most of it has looked pretty good inside the arena. The players are happy to have eliminated the week’s gap – Ferrer was particularly in praise of it, and he’s off to Davis Cup next – and we’ve had no withdrawals or people being particularly hampered with physical issues (OK, Tipsy, but who’d notice?).

    Basically: I think the only problem with this tournament is in the eyes of the (often American) media and diehard tennis fans, and those problems are not inherent in the format or timing of the event but in the nature of the ATP itself.

    And now I must go and watch Federer play del Potro. Oh, the humanity.

    1. Lindsay
      Lindsay November 10, 2012 at 11:26 am |

      First of all, I’m thrilled to hear that the event has been packed and the audience has been happy. There is nothing like live tennis–it’s the most fool-proof way to become enchanted with this sport.

      I agree with you on a lot of this Hannah, actually. I know I am being cranky and over-critical, and I know that a lot of it has to do with my personal problems with the ATP right now. I’m suffering from a post-Roddick slump, I feel like I’ve seen the same match-ups 1,000 times, and I feel like I already know how things will end. I feel like a bitter old man screaming on the front porch about the way things used to be…or never were?

      Do I think there are ways to improve the event? Absolutely. I do not want a week off, but I think having a smaller event the week before would help. And of course a shorter season etc. etc.

      But mainly I just personally want a bit more parity, and, I dunno, maybe for Benny and SammyQ to make the WTFs. That’s all.

      Congrats on the Delpo win! Truly glad he’s back in the mix. And thanks for the comment–great to have the perspective of someone who is actually there.

    2. Juan José
      Juan José November 10, 2012 at 6:04 pm |

      Thanks for all of that, Hannah. You make fantastic points.

      I was actually full of praise at the beginning of the debate for how the event has been staged in London. To me, it’s as good as it gets: glitzy arena, lots of people, classy atmosphere, etc. Everything works. The event is perfectly put together. I was extremely happy to hear that the WTFs will stay in London for the next few years, too. It’s great for the game.

      HOWEVER…while it’s great to hear the event is getting good coverage in Europe, how is it possible that the ATP doesn’t even consider their biggest tennis market (the US) when staging their marquee event? True, Europe as a whole is the second market for tennis (and first in terms of actually producing elite players). But that’s what irritates me: you have this perfectly arranged tournament…that only one of your top markets pays attention to. Like I said in the piece, I think the easy solution is to move the WTFs closer to the US Open. Two weeks would be ideal, but even a month would be good.

      About the ATP being too top-heavy and thus distorting the event and the “race”, I agree completely. This is why I’d rather have a single elimination 16-man tournament, hard seeding. Then everybody has to show up for all the matches, and somebody random might catch fire. And if we end up with the top four seeds in the semis anyway…at least we were given meaningful matches and not the crap we got this week, and particularly today.

      So we disagree – but I love hearing about what the WTFs feel like from inside. I can only tell you what I see from outside when the TV is off. It just feels like a horribly wasted opportunity. Or half a wasted opportunity, since Europe is indeed getting served.

  3. Jewell
    Jewell November 10, 2012 at 10:01 am |

    Tennis *should* have Nate Silver! Everything should have Nate Silver!

    “For true diehards, the tennis season never ends!”

    This is true obviously – but casual fans are still fans, and to me this sounds uncomfortably close to “you’re not a proper fan if you don’t care about every minute of everything and aren’t watching Futures in Timbuctoo on Christmas Eve.” I actually like having an off-season and a real break from live tennis for the main tours; it’s relaxing to have the break and it gives us all time to think about the issues brought up during the year with more perspective and less emotion.

    If Paris can’t move to February – and I wonder how it will fit with the WTA tournament that’s there currently – then why not make it a non-mandatory MS, like Monte Carlo?

    I wonder if, if you move the WTFs so close to the USO, the USO peak would cast an even deeper shadow. Would it really be easy for fans to get up and excited for it so quickly? A month after would make more sense.

    I think there are positives and negatives to round robins. This year with Nadal out the groups look really unbalanced, and yesterday night Murray could’ve made the SF having lost two matches, which is stupid. It can also hurt the drama of a tournament; you’d think that if you’re playing only top players, you have to be right on your top of your game to get to the SF – except that’s so rarely the case as things work out.

    I also toy with the idea that rotating surfaces would be fun, but then you’d have to keep moving the tournament, and I really think it needs to build itself in one location.

    Any thoughts on reverting to five-set finals? Given that the slams, for the men, take some of their gravitas from playing best-of-five, it’s hard to see the WTFs catching up without some of the five-set magic.

    Final question. Why don’t we ever have this conversation about the WTA YEC? (or if we did and I missed it, point me at it…)

    1. Juan José
      Juan José November 10, 2012 at 6:22 pm |

      Thanks for this, Jewell!

      I agree with almost everything you said. Particularly about changing the surfaces and having an off-season. In soccer, I do like how the offseason lets you decompress (which was necessary after last year’s apoplectic EPL season), and then get excited for the new season with transfer rumours and the like (not sure what the tennis equivalent of those would be, though).

      This is why I would love for tennis to start it’s season in mid-November, with a first M1000 in December, and then the AO in January, followed by 6 M1000, then RG, then Wimby, then 2 M1000, the US Open, and the WTFs. The season would end at the end of September for top players, beginning of September for everybody else. And I’m OK with anything ranging from 2 weeks to a full month between US Open and the WTFs.

      About Paris…if it were up to me, I’d get rid of it if it doesn’t move to Paris. Just seems like one big tournament too many. But good luck getting the players to agree on letting all that prize money go!

      Oh, and it was too bad we couldn’t do any of these things for the WTA YEC – we launched the day it ended, and all we could do were recaps of the semis and a rant about the horrible scheduling during the week.

      The lone thing I disagree about? The best-of-5 final. True, we’ve had some epics in the past (the last one was Nalbandián-Federer in 2005, I think). But a nice best of 3 final is good enough for me, particularly since the guys don’t have a day off between semis and final (and two of the semifinalists won’t get a day off between the last day of round robin and the semis).

      1. Jewell
        Jewell November 11, 2012 at 1:19 am |

        It’s tempting to want to scrap Paris just to annoy Guy Forget. :) But, I like the idea of keeping it and making it non-mandatory because that doesn’t take the opportunity for points and money away from players who aren’t right at the top. The top four don’t need Paris – that doesn’t mean other players don’t or won’t. Paris has often been slightly compromised anyway in terms of top players a) playing and b) really showing up ready to play and win, so I don’t see that making it non-mandatory would make much difference to that. And I think that should happen wherever the tournament goes, actually, even if it moves to February.

        Come to that in all of the discussions about tour scheduling commitments I don’t know why this wasn’t a solution. Maybe contractual stuff getting in the way? It seems like an easy one to me.

        Do you think if there was a US player at the WTFs, American media and fans would be more interested? Again, I don’t remember tennis having this discussion about the WTA YEC (I didn’t mean your site specifically, it wasn’t a criticism of you guys – I meant tennis as a whole.) Interested to think about the whys.

        1. Lindsay
          Lindsay November 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm |

          In regards to the cranky US media, I think there are a lot of factors. This is the first year in forever that an American male hasn’t even qualified (last year there was Mardy, then at least Andy for 8 years prior) so I’m sure it does have something to do with it. I don’t think the desire for a “home team” player will ever go away, even in a sport as global as tennis.

          I think the WTFs get in the “controversy” spotlight more often than the YECs because they are the last event of the year. The YEC happens earlier, and since the ATP season is still dragging on it feels different. A few weeks later the journos are even more tired than usual and looking for an off-season themselves. However, I haven’t seen the reportage being much different than usual, so take that for what you will.

          I also think that you were really onto something when you mentioned that for the most part, tennis stories are told through the lens of the ATP, not the WTA. IE: surface debates, salary (not equal pay, but the “liveable wages” conversation), and the length of the season. I think for the latter, a lot of that reason is because the WTA has sufficiently shortened their season and gotten a proper end-of-year schedule in place with fewer mandatory events leading up to Istanbul. However, there is also something to be said for the fact that the “default” way to discuss sports is with the male athletes in mind, and that carries over to tennis as well.

          1. Jewell
            Jewell November 12, 2012 at 1:58 am |

            Oh yeah on the home-team players – look at the BritJournos last night, unabashedly cheering for Murray and resentful of a crowd that shaded Federer. American journalists take a lot of heat for cheering, say, John Isner (and I do think picking him for a slam semi-final is more hopeful than sensible) but our lot seem a lot worse about player hyping to me.

            I think you’re right about that being the default way to talk about athletes – I do it myself, I know. I’m trying to break that habit and it is surprisingly difficult.

  4. Lindsay
    Lindsay November 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm |

    Lots of great thoughts here Jewel- thank you for the comment! Going to answer in sections:

    -Yes. Tennis really, really does need a Nate Silver. Desperately. Getting funding for such a project could be revolutionary for the sport.

    -Amy can address this herself, but I don’t think the comment was meant to insult/divide the tennis community. I know I personally cannot wait for the off-season. It’s good to miss tennis a little bit, and to get some perspective. And you’re right–casual fans are still important, and the sport needs them to survive.

    -I LOVE the idea of making Paris non-mandatory if it can’t be moved. Mainly because it screws over Guy Forget a little, and we all know I’m a fan of that.

    -I also agree that a month after the USO would be great for the WTFs. Or really, even six weeks like the WTA YECs (she says without looking at a calendar…). In fact, I think the WTA really has their end of the year schedule down. The small tournaments right before the YECs giving everyone a time to rest. Get rid of or change Sofia, and it’s perfect. I think too close to the USO is detrimental too–though JJ still thinks that 2 weeks is ideal.

    -I’m with you. Sometimes I love Round Robins, sometimes I hate them. All of these feelings are based on personal bias. I do like that the final event of the year is something a little different.

    -I actually LOVE the idea of changing surfaces. Not sure how practical it is, but just thinking about it made me giddy.

    -Five set finals…hmmm…not sure about that one, especially given the quality of the matches so far. But worth a thought for sure.

    -This site launched right as the YECs were ending, so we didn’t do a chat about this then for that reason (though I did rant about Sofia). However, we covered the end of that tournament and I think we were all just amazed at how fun that event was. I think it was a combo of: better time in the calendar, and the relative depth of the WTA these days, and luck.

    And FTR, this Chat was actually supposed to be about the ATP Awards, we just got sidetracked talking about the WTF format and published this instead!

    1. Jewell
      Jewell November 10, 2012 at 12:20 pm |

      Thanks for clarifying the casual fan vs diehard stuff. I’m probably a bit over-sensitive about that.

      For the last point, Linz, I didn’t mean your site, honestly. It’s more that every year tennis has this discussion about the WTF format, and a broader discussion about it’s relevance/importance (and I agree with Hannah that there’s an American/European divide there, although I thought you were all talking more purely about the format, not the wider stuff of how much it counts) – and yet, I don’t remember seeing similar discussions about the YEC. Serena effect, more fluidity in the WTA effect, or another example of issues not being discussed through the WTA lens, like court surface speed? Something else? It’s just interesting.

      Today’s scenario illustrates some of the problems with the round robin, IMO. The scheduling of what is basically a dead rubber for the two men playing as the Saturday night match is surely bonkers (the better match-ups seem to be scheduled in the afternoons, maybe that works for TV here or something, but it’s kind of sucky for the evening people who are probably more likely to be casual fans. Then again who knows, Tipsy and Ferru might reprise their USO match, which was terrific), and the different incentives for Fed and Del Potro earlier may have contributed to that being a slightly odd match. I’m not saying Fed was unmotivated or that del Potro’s win is anything other than huge and completely merited – just that it must surely be difficult to avoid any sort of subconscious “job done” feeling.

  5. Phaura Reinz
    Phaura Reinz November 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm |

    On the question, does the WTF format need to change?

    Probably no. The unpredictability adds more to the excitement of the game. Like what is happening now, we can’t be sure who is playing who in the semis (ATP), and we are kept on the edge of our seats guessing who would play Nole and Andy.

    It may also provide a further push/pressure for players to win their matches, add extra effort to win their round robins and qualify for the semis. This just fuels more intensity and fire from the players and makes it more enjoyable to watch.

  6. Why Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer can’t save the World Tour Finals | e-best news

    [...] at Changeover Tennis, Juan Jose admitted he also had an empty feeling: “I think part of the problem might be that the format is wrong. [...]

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