Tennis Begins '18 Facing Issues Of Lengthy Schedule Complaints, Rising Injury Concerns
Tennis is "at a crossroads" in part due to the sport's "structure, which, with multiple governing bodies and no final arbiter, severely limits its ability to make calendar changes," according to Christopher Clarey of the N.Y. TIMES. With the Australian Open in January and the Paris Masters and World Tour Finals ending in November, the schedule is a "marathon for the elite: an ultramarathon if they play in the Davis Cup final, too." Rafael Nadal said, “It’s not about the crazy calendar. For me it’s about how long the calendar is in terms of mandatory events for the top players." ATP Tour Exec Chair & President Chris Kermode said that studies "show there has not been a rise in injury rates over all but only among the highest ranked players, most of whom are now 30 or older and most of whom already have earned exemptions from some of their tour commitments." However, Clarey notes the top players, "with their collective drawing power, ... need to be preserved to protect the economic model." There is also the "question of the sport’s ability to police itself credibly, which will soon be back in the spotlight with the lengthy and costly Independent Review of Integrity, created to investigate potential match fixing and corruption." Another issue facing the game is the "more cyclical matter of whether a new ruling class is at last prepared to take power on the court." No younger woman has "demonstrated the ability to dominate in the absence" of Serena Williams and no younger man has "demonstrated the ability to handle Grand Slam occasions anywhere near as well" as Nadal, Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic (N.Y. TIMES, 1/12).
FIGHTING FOR THE PLAYERS: ESPNW.com's D'Arcy Maine noted CoCo Vandeweghe "wants to fix" issues like the "length of the season and grueling travel demands" players face. She also "isn't giving up hope that the WTA will come around on what she considers excessive requirements and fines" relating to attire and tournament appearances. Vandeweghe said, "The WTA was supposed to be a player union when it started. But as the tour evolved, it became something else. It's a business, and they're looking out for tournaments and sponsors, which they should as a business. But there's no one protecting the players anymore" (ESPNW.com, 1/11).