Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Now that the grass-court season has (almost) come and gone—the men are playing in Newport this week—it's time for the players to start getting ready for ... the clay again?
There's three tournaments on the dirt this week that the men are playing in, and two for the women. The men are playing in Switzerland, Sweden and Stuttgart, while the women are in France and Palermo.
Something, though, has really stuck out to me on the men's side with the tournaments this week: Why are there first-round byes for the top four seeds at these events? Did I miss a memo or something? I can't recall a 32-player draw this year passing on the top four to the next round. Or in recent years, for that matter.
I should mention this: I HATE first-round byes at 32-draw tournaments! The WTA has been doing it forever, and I'm not a big fan of it there, either. Is it done for the players' sake? Is it a reward to them for what they've accomplished? Is it to cut down on the amount they have to play?
Well, I know the players complain about the travel and having to deal with injuries, but if you notice, it's only the top ones that do that. Journeymen and women can't play enough!
First-round byes can be both beneficial and harmful to the top players, I feel. Look what happened with Novak Djokovic in Indian Wells this year. He had a few days off, played a qualifier, Kevin Anderson, who had been on a hot streak and promptly lost. Would an extra match under his belt helped him get a better foothold into the tournament? No doubt.
But also if you look at the beginning of the year, where Maria Sharapova won multiple tournaments in a row, fewer matches probably kept her fresher.
If the ATP is doing the byes because it's the week after Wimbledon, that doesn't make much sense to me: The only semifinalist on both sides playing is Marat Safin, who just lost his match in a tight three-setter in Sweden.
Aside from all that, shouldn't the fans get to see as much tennis as possible? I guess it's the economy, though, forcing tournaments to struggle to accommodate players. Stuttgart used to be the fifth-biggest clay-court tournament on tour for the men, but look what it's been reduced to.
That's it for my rant on the matter.
Well, one more thing: Defending Swiss Open champ and bye beneficiary Paul-Henri Mathieu (pictured) lost his first match today. I just wouldn't mind saying bye to byes!