Friday, July 24, 2009

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

I need some help figuring this one out:

Why is world number one Dinara Safina playing this week's tournament in Slovenia? And is it a good or bad thing?

I saw that she won through to the semis today, which is good. That prompted me to look at the draw, and after examining it, the event looked like it should be played on the ITF circuit! Top 10 players nowadays don't go to events like this. And I almost feel bad about bringing up this old nugget because I'm sure Safina hears it enough: number-one players WITHOUT a Slam under their belt definitely don't play these type of tournaments!

The summer hard-court season really gets under way in California in a matter of days. Shouldn't she have waited until then? That way, she'd be fresher to face the stiffer competition that will be out there the next few weeks. Also, say she wins this tournament. Granted, it's not the toughest of opponents Safina will face, but it's still going up against women that will be fighting tooth and nail for this small title, so the intensity will be higher than in a practice match. There's no need to deal with that now. No one else in the top 10 is bothering with that, so why is the number one?

If Safina happens to lose, by some miracle, then what does that do the confidence? And heaven forbid, if a hamstring is tweaked here.

But on the other hand, it can be perceived as a good thing that she's playing. Maybe Safina wants to go all out this week and practice was getting dull. It's also great for the fans that attend the tournament, to have the opportunity to see one of the world's best take center stage.

I know I'm probably being naive, but I hope it's not just an appearance fee situation. Because there's plenty of money to be made at the big events, which could also be a better warm-up for winning that first big one.

(Photo: Getty Images)


beckcl78 said...

Honestly, what is the big deal about this? It's an International level tournament. Serena and JJ played Marbella-- an international level tournament-- and no one blinked an eye. It can't just be that Serena's won Slams and JJ was a lowly #4 by then... this "looking for things to pick on Dinara about" is getting pretty old.

Less grumpily, I think it might be a misunderstanding about the roadmap-- Dinara keeps saying that she "needs" to play two International level tournaments during the season; my impression is that the rulebook says she's allowed to, but she seriously seems to be under the impression that it's required. I don't know who's right-- I'd hope it's her. :-)

van said...

Hi Beckcl78. I promise I wasn't picking on her! I want her to win a Slam. I just really don't see how playing here benefits her in that pursuit. And if she's playing because she feels she has to, you know, she really doesn't. It sucks for fans, but players bail on tournaments all the time. And what's a $10,000 fine to her?

Serena shouldn't have gone to Marbella and I think Jelena needed to stay at a weak tournament like that for a confidence boost, if anything.

I just hope Slovenia doesn't bite her come Open time.

Vava said...

Two words: appearance fee.