Every Friday one of us will have this space to rant or rave about a topic of our choosing. It is not meant to be exclusively about tennis – it can be anything that inspires us to gush or complain about something we just can’t let go.
October 26, 2012
Scheduling is hard. So hard. It’s like herding cats. In your case, across continents. Believe me, I can imagine what a nightmare it must be to schedule something like the WTA Championships. It’s a ton of work, and most of it goes unseen. Which is unfair. It’s kind of like being a referee at a pro sporting event: people only notice you when you get something wrong. The ultimate goal is to go unnoticed.
Sadly, your work during this week’s event hasn’t gone unnoticed. Far from it. It’s been the big, unnecessary elephant in the room (or more precisely, in the arena in Istanbul). Here are a couple of questions that have been flying around my head this week:
– Does the ATP have some sort of copyright on the scheduling used for a round robin tournament for the top eight players in the world? Have you seen their event? It’s wonderful! They have the scheduling down to a science. A simple science. See, you have eight players in groups of four. Each player has three matches. Hence, you end up with six matches total. Tennis players tend to perform better when they play every other day. Given the physical nature of today’s game, it’s kinda necessary. So the ATP starts on a Sunday, and uses up six whole days for round robin play. That way everybody gets a day’s rest between their round robin matches. Simple, huh?
– If the ATP does indeed have a copyright on that schedule…why don’t you just license it from them? Seems like a worthwhile investment.
– Why on Earth would you start your tournament on a Tuesday? Something magical happens in Turkey on Tuesdays? In the world in general? Are hotels that much more expensive for two extra days? Why not Sunday, when more people can come to your event early in the afternoon, and gather momentum for the rest of the week?
The reason I’m asking is because I couldn’t help but notice that the all four ladies in the Red Group played their three matches on consecutive days. Why on Earth would you let that happen? Do you want them to perform at their best? Isn’t this the biggest showcase for your tour outside of the Slams? And since you don’t control the Slams…isn’t this the biggest thing you do all year?
What made it worse is that Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber played one of the best matches of the past few months (male or female) on Wednesday. Kerber was playing her second match in as many days. Azarenka was making her debut. The match lasted over three hours, and it was wonderful. However, Azarenka’s reward for winning it was playing Serena Williams the next day. Now, this is a re-match of the US Open final. You want them to put on a show, right? Then why do you have Azarenka playing less than 24 hours after her epic, and Serena after two straight days of matches? Why would you do that?
Doesn’t a Sunday start sound pretty good right now? Wait, I’m not done.
On Saturday, you’ve been blessed with a great line-up for the semifinals. Serena Williams and Agniezka Radwanska will stage a rematch of the Wimbledon final of this year, and Maria Sharapova and Azarenka will do the same regarding the Australian Open final. However, you have a problem: Radwanska has been on court for over 8 hours so far, including a 3 and a half hour match against Sara Errani that became the longest match of the tournament’s history. She’ll have less than 24 hours to recover in order to play one of the greatest tennis players in history. Who’s coming off a day’s rest! Oh, and she played a pretty long match on Wednesday, too.
Did you notice that your Year-End Number One, Victoria Azarenka, will have to play five straight days if she wants to win this tournament? She doesn’t have to do that at any Slam. And while she might have to play on four straight days during normal tour events, she doesn’t have to battle the World Number 5 for over three hours in her first match. And Serena Williams the next day.
I’m hoping you don’t get two semifinal duds tomorrow, but as the facts above show…it’s kind of inevitable.
Here are some other greatest hits of yours during this week:
– You scheduled Samantha Stosur (alternate replacing Petra Kvitova) to play Sara Errani as the last match on Thursday. Sensible. But then you scheduled Stosur – Sharapova (coming off a day’s rest) as the first match on Friday. How does that make any sense?
– You have both singles semifinals sandwiched between two doubles semifinals. This means Radwanska has less recovery time for her semifinal vs Serena Williams than Sara Errani has for her doubles semifinal. Since you’ve ignored doubles all week, why put doubles over singles now?
I really wish I didn’t have to write this rant. I really wish you’d seen the light and used six days for round robin play. Such a simple concept. Letting your talent have the best chance to shine, in order to give your brand the best chance to grow. How about that?
If the licensing fee is too high, just let me know. We can start a kickstarter campaign for next year. I’m sure you have loads of swag with that horrible logo of yours that we can send out to our generous donors. And Xperia phones are surely available, no?
Then again, you’ll sell this tournament to Doha, so money shouldn’t be a problem.
Juan José Vallejo
PS 1: Ehem.
A slow-moving Radwanska in press: “Those last two
matches really killed me, especially that I didn’t
have the day off. I really need that.”
— Beyond The Baseline (@SI_BTBaseline) October 27, 2012
PS 3: Ehem part 2.
One thing to be rectified is scheduling. Need to extend. Serena only one of 4 who didn’t play Friday. Maria played 1st. AR and VA spent
— Neil Harman (@NeilHarmanTimes) October 27, 2012