- Algerian airplane goes missing over Mali: ‘Emergency plan’ launched
- Colorado judge strikes voter-backed gay marriage ban, but issues stay
- Brooklyn Bridge flag-swapping suspects identified by nickname
- Christian woman in Sudan spared for apostasy flies to Italy
- Iraq: 60 dead in attack on prisoner convoy
- Marco Rubio: U.S. at social, moral crossroads
- ‘We’re coming for you, Barack Obama’: Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL
- White flags baffle NYPD: ‘We’re lucky it wasn’t a bomb’
- N.Y. Gov. Cuomo’s office interfered with, pressured corruption commission: report
- Brit lawmaker: I would fire on Israel if I lived in Gaza
Tennis’ big changes
Question of the Day
It will be hard to find more than a handful of people who were disappointed to see Roger Federer win his fifth consecutive U.S. Open on Monday. Likewise, there aren’t too many people complaining about Serena Williams’ third title at the event.
Both are likeable players with fearsome talent, and both won at times when they were facing questions whether they were on the downside of their careers. They are two of tennis’ most recognizable and marketable stars, and their wins come at a good time for the sport as it heads into a period of uneasy yet much-needed change.
Both the ATP and WTA tours have revealed a new emphasis for 2009 on keeping players fresh and having them make more appearances in the most high-profile events. There will be more off-weeks, more mandatory tournaments for the top players and larger purses on both tours. Plus, the ATP and WTA have long-term plans for revenue sharing with players.
The women will see a shorter season that ends in October, giving them an additional two weeks off. But top players now will be expected to play in at least 10 major events in addition to the Grand Slams. The new requirement ensures fans will see stronger fields and players won’t boost their ranking by playing in low-profile tournaments.
Likewise, the men’s tour simplified the schedule by categorizing tournaments as “1000,” “500” and “250” events based on the number of ranking points awarded. The “1000” tournaments will be mandatory for the top players; anyone who misses an event will receive no ranking points.
Tennis usually drops off the sports radar in the fall, but it’s wrapping up the 2008 season with some momentum. The U.S. Open would have set an attendance record if not for the weekend’s rain, and the match between Williams and Jelena Jankovic scored the highest TV rating for any women’s final since 2002. Meanwhile, people are still buzzing about the Wimbledon final between Federer and Rafael Nadal. And just a few weeks into the 2009 season, Federer will pursue his 14th Grand Slam win, which would tie him with Pete Sampras for the most all time.
All of that bodes well for the upcoming year, and the changes for next season seem positive, particularly the move to allow for more off-weeks. Nothing underscores the need for a shorter schedule than the last two months, in which many players exhausted themselves between U.S. Open Series events and the Beijing Olympics.
For most sports, the idea of shortening the season seems ludicrous. But tennis will make up any lost revenue by boosting sponsorship sales thanks to the new rules requiring the best players to appear at the top tournaments. Moreover, many tournaments are expected to see increased attendance, thanks to millions of dollars in new upgrades to stadiums at several tour venues.
About the Author
- First Down: Best weekend bets
- SportsBiz: What the next decade holds
- Shifting sands for NCAA
- Monumental sports year will connect fans on a global scale
- SportsBiz: Selling a new career
Latest Blog Entries
The subsidies are a hit with patients who don't exist
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- EDITORIAL: Poor Hillary, rock-star wannabe
- Netanyahu's Wikipedia page replaced with giant Palestinian flag
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Hezbollah in Syria could join fight against Israel
- Hamas orders civilians to die in Israeli airstrikes
- Democratic Sen. John Walsh plagiarized War College master's thesis: report
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
- FIELDS: A tale of a boy, a Bible and a gun
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq