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Timing of Australian Open comes under fire (US News Item)

mangoes
01-11-2006, 03:12 PM
This News Item is on the Yahoo America main news page............


Timing of Australian Open comes under fire

By Julian Linden

SYDNEY, Jan 11 (Reuters) - The timing of the Australian Open came under fire from leading players on Wednesday after more big drawcards pulled out of the first grand slam of the year.

The 2005 champion Marat Safin joined the mounting absentee list when he announced he was not defending his title, just a day after French Open champion Rafael Nadal told organisers he would not be playing in Melbourne.

Safin succumbed to the long-term knee injury that has troubled him since Wimbledon while Nadal withdrew because of a foot problem that has plagued him since the end of last year.

"I don't think it takes a brain surgeon to figure out why a lot of people are getting hurt," American Andy Roddick told reporters in Melbourne.

"I believe it's in the best interests of the game for them to come up with an off-season to give us time to recover. You can't play if your body won't allow you. A solution needs to be found."

Safin is the first men's champion not to defend his Australian Open title since Andre Agassi pulled out of the 2002 tournament with a wrist problem.

Agassi, a staunch supporter of the Australian Open when many other top players failed to make the trip Down Under, has also withdrawn from this year's event because of an ankle injury.

Greg Rusedski and Alicia Molik have also pulled out of the Open, starting in Melbourne next week, while several other top players are in doubt.

Safin's sister, Dinara Safina, former world number one Carlos Moya, Sweden's 2002 Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson and Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova all retired from this week's Sydney International because of injuries.

It is not unusual for top players to miss the Australian Open through injuries suffered the previous season but the latest drop-outs have renewed calls to move the tournament to a later date or finish the season earlier.

Australia's Lleyton Hewitt, regarded as one of the fittest men on the professional circuit, agreed with Roddick that the players need a break.

"These are the kind of things that the players, and especially the top players, have been asking been asking for and want a look at for a long time now," Hewitt told a news conference in Sydney. "But nothing still seems to be happening."

BURNOUT FEARS

Fears about player burnout have been around for years but reached new levels last season when the field for the lucrative Masters Cup in November was decimated by injury as Agassi, Roddick, Nadal, Safin and Hewitt all pulled out.

The Davis Cup final, usually held in the first week of December, has also contributed to the problem by reducing the break before the Australian summer season starts in January.

"It's a lot tougher on the top players," Hewitt said. "They're normally the ones playing in the Davis Cup final, two and a half weeks after the Masters Cup.

"You've somehow got to have a couple of weeks off there but there's no way your body can bounce back.

The Australian Open, traditionally held in the last two weeks of January, has often been the big loser.

In the days before easy jet travel, the top players in Europe and the U.S. preferred to stay at home rather than undertake the lengthy journey.

Even now, the top players are regularly missing and the problem is made worse by Australia's scorching summer heat where on-court temperatures often exceed 45 degrees Celcius.

Former world number one Martina Navratilova famously described the Australian Open as dangerous, writing in a newspaper column:

"It could take someone dying before things will change but I firmly believe the Australian Open should be put back a month until at least February."

star
01-11-2006, 07:47 PM
When should it be held then?

It's not that easy to move it around.

mangoes
01-11-2006, 08:01 PM
I guess they want it moved to February :confused:

Sparko1030
01-11-2006, 09:52 PM
I agree with Andy Roddick that something must be done to give players mopre time to recover but it never occured to me that the timing of the AO was the problem. I'll have to mull that one over a bit....

MisterQ
01-11-2006, 09:56 PM
We gave them a leap second this year and they're still not satisfied! :shrug:

shotgun
01-11-2006, 10:03 PM
Some players like Jiri Novak, Greg Rusedski and Gustavo Kuerten decided to skip the Australian Open for personal reasons, though they are not injured. Roddick could do the same if it bothers him so much to go down to play it. :)

Seriously now, the only solution would be to cut off a few tournaments from the calendar, but there are many persons who are not willing to do this. ;)

Corswandt
01-11-2006, 10:18 PM
Martina Navratilova [...] I firmly believe the Australian Open should be put back a month until at least February."

Could this be done?

Intuitively, and as a non-expert, I also feel that the AO is too early in the season. But I don't think it could be moved back by more than a couple of weeks. Or could it?

I also think RG and Wimbledon are bunched too close together.

Jimnik
01-11-2006, 10:26 PM
I think Australia has too many sporting events in February/March. They wouldn't be able to move the Aus Open.

tennisvideos
01-11-2006, 10:46 PM
Personally I think they should have the Aussie Open in March or even April. The weather then (Autumn) is generally quite calm and moderate and it would make more sense from a player and tour perspective.

It is currently held in January during traditional holiday season, guaranteeing bumper crowds and volunteers. So moving it to an off holiday time could jeopardise those things - although I would still take holidays at another time to coincide with the tennis.

The other alternative is to rearrange the Davis Cup so it's not an annual event. I think it should be played every two years or even every 4 years. And then when the Masters Cup is over the season could end then and there.

shotgun
01-11-2006, 10:56 PM
The other alternative is to rearrange the Davis Cup so it's not an annual event. I think it should be played every two years or even every 4 years. And then when the Masters Cup is over the season could end then and there.

I think Davis Cup should have its format merged with the World Team Cup. A Round Robin tournament played in a week in a given place, with 2 groups of 4 teams each, and then the winner of each group qualifies to the final, which would be held in another week in the actual DC format.

cobalt60
01-11-2006, 11:09 PM
Has anybody thought about traveling issues for players as well when tournie schedules are moved?
Nice post Shotgun- there has been loads of discussion in regards to the Davis Cup and its play as well.

R.Federer
01-11-2006, 11:11 PM
Well this problem could be equally viewed as a problem of the previous season going on too long (till December) rather than the A.Open starting too early

Its not one tournament or another that is at fault, it is the whole jingbang. Each tournamente looks for their own interest, and does not take into account when the others are, etc

Lisbeth
01-11-2006, 11:21 PM
Personally I think they should have the Aussie Open in March or even April. The weather then (Autumn) is generally quite calm and moderate and it would make more sense from a player and tour perspective.

It is currently held in January during traditional holiday season, guaranteeing bumper crowds and volunteers. So moving it to an off holiday time could jeopardise those things - although I would still take holidays at another time to coincide with the tennis.

The other alternative is to rearrange the Davis Cup so it's not an annual event. I think it should be played every two years or even every 4 years. And then when the Masters Cup is over the season could end then and there.

January is the long summer holiday for schools here. Thus it enables many school age children and teenagers to attend (including ballkids) who would not be able to attend otherwise. Lleyton Hewitt got his love for tennis attending the AO every year as a kid, for example.

However there are arguments on both sides. I find it interesting that the article says "leading players" but in fact they can only quote one who is actually prepared to say moving the AO is the solution ;)

nkhera1
01-11-2006, 11:23 PM
Well if there is a longer offseason then I don't think timing becomes an issue, but compared to other sports tennis gets little time off.

mojo37_12
01-12-2006, 03:52 AM
I also think RG and Wimbledon are bunched too close together.

I agree... The Grand Slams need to have equal intervals of months between them so the players can recuperate well after each one.

star
01-12-2006, 04:31 AM
Personally I think they should have the Aussie Open in March or even April. The weather then (Autumn) is generally quite calm and moderate and it would make more sense from a player and tour perspective.

It is currently held in January during traditional holiday season, guaranteeing bumper crowds and volunteers. So moving it to an off holiday time could jeopardise those things - although I would still take holidays at another time to coincide with the tennis.

The other alternative is to rearrange the Davis Cup so it's not an annual event. I think it should be played every two years or even every 4 years. And then when the Masters Cup is over the season could end then and there.

I don't mind the idea of Davis Cup being rearranged, but I can't see the AO being moved to March or April. I think that is way too extreme.

If the season has to be shortened, personally I would like to see the European indoor season shortened. There are many many tournaments in Europe anyway.

But I guess it's one thing to say Andy could shorten his season by just not playing at either the end or the beginning of the season, but I can't imagine the heat he would take if he qualified for the Masters each year and didn't play. But what I don't like is that I think Andy is giving too much emotion to this issue. It takes on too much importance in his mind and effects him emotionally. I think Federer's approach is much more helpful to him personally.

azinna
01-12-2006, 04:50 AM
Well this problem could be equally viewed as a problem of the previous season going on too long (till December) rather than the A.Open starting too early...

I think it's definitely an issue on both ends. The 1st official ball should be struck in Feb. The last in Oct.

Scotso
01-12-2006, 05:25 PM
Players whine about everything these days. These top players get paid millions to play a game and they need to shut up.

These lazy players get hurt around the Aussie time because they do nothing in the off season and aren't ready.

prima donna
01-12-2006, 05:30 PM
Players whine about everything these days. These top players get paid millions to play a game and they need to shut up.

These lazy players get hurt around the Aussie time because they do nothing in the off season and aren't ready.

No, they earn millions. Tennis is survival of the fittest.

If you don't win or qualify, you don't get money, simple as that. An appearance fee is usually granted to an already wealthy player and the small amount of cash one receives for losing in the 1st or 2nd round is hardly anything. 15,000 or so, which is garbage, when you consider that one has to pay a coach and so forth.

Fact of the matter is, this isn't NBA, NFL or NHL where players are awarded millions play or not, there are no salaries in the world of tennis.

Nice stance, but slightly inadequate.

Scotso
01-12-2006, 05:38 PM
I think most people might question the comment that you can "earn" millions by playing a game.

prima donna
01-12-2006, 05:41 PM
I think most people might question the comment that you can "earn" millions by playing a game.

An NBA player can have 1 or 2 strong seasons, sign a 52 million dollar contract and crash out. Guess what ? The money isn't reinversed, it's paid in full.

A tennis player must scratch and crawl to win every single match, show up to tournaments and so forth, in-order to be considered amongst the "elite" of sports and even under those circumstances, due to the lack of popularity they are well underpaid.

Serena Williams has yet to even eclipse the 20 million mark, luckily she signed with Nike giving her a 52 Million dollar contract.

Simply food for thought.

shotgun
01-12-2006, 05:42 PM
No, they earn millions. Tennis is survival of the fittest.

If you don't win or qualify, you don't get money, simple as that. An appearance fee is usually granted to an already wealthy player and the small amount of cash one receives for losing in the 1st or 2nd round is hardly anything. 15,000 or so, which is garbage, when you consider that one has to pay a coach and so forth.

Fact of the matter is, this isn't NBA, NFL or NHL where players are awarded millions play or not, there are no salaries in the world of tennis.

Nice stance, but slightly inadequate.

Yes, tennis is like running your own business, while NBA, NFL and NHL are like a (good) job at a big corporation.

Jimnik
01-12-2006, 06:13 PM
The ATP schedule is fine, including the timing of the Aus Open.

Leave everything as it is.

star
01-12-2006, 06:41 PM
I agree... The Grand Slams need to have equal intervals of months between them so the players can recuperate well after each one.

But realistically speaking, how would you do that? It's hard to find two weeks of decent weather in England at any time. Are you suggesting movingWimbledon to August? Then there isn't time before the USO? Are you proposing to have RG in April? Even though there's a song about April in Paris, it's pretty chilly for tennis that early, plus when would you play the European clay court season leading up to RG? It's already cold in Hamburg when they play that masters. I don't see playing clay court tennis in Europe in March.

Pigpen Stinks
01-12-2006, 07:45 PM
I understand both sides, but definitely think the players are whining way too much. They remind me of politicians challenging for office that base their campaign on change and how wrong the incumbent party is, yet don't offer any solutions.

What is it that the players are suggesting be done? Hewitt even admits that it's mainly the top players that are complaining, as one would expect since they go deepest in tournaments and play the most matches. Do the players outside the top 10-15 want the number of events to be significantly reduced? This would mean less opportunity for them to earn a living, and less opportunity to earn ranking points to maintain or improve their status.

The top players are supposed to play 13 events (4 slams + 9 masters series). 14 events for the top 8 that make Masters Cup. For the few that make it to the Davis Cup final, it would be the equivalent of 18 events. Hardly any of the top guys play all the Masters Series events because of the scheduling. I think there are back to back ones on clay and back to back on the hard courts in the summer. Maybe they could flip a few events around so they get a week off between each of those. The point is that these guys have 13 events to play (not including Davis Cup) and then 5 others to meet the 18 events for their ranking. That's a total of 22 weeks of play (2 weeks for each of the slams), and that assumes that they're playing the full week(s) at each event!

So, even for a guy who qualifies for the Masters Cup and whose country makes it to the Davis Cup final, it's still only a total of 27 weeks. Barely over half the year. I don't think the answer is reinventing the tour schedule. Take a page from Roger Federer, and learn to schedule properly. Sure, the guy still gets his million dollar appearance fees at selected events, but he prioritizes to make sure he's at his peak for the majors. While it has been disappointing to see the likes of Roger, Sampras and Agassi skip Davis Cup over the course of their careers, it also should be noted that they have been wise enough to know what their bodies can tolerate. By the way, I haven't noticed Roger grumbling too much about changing the schedule.

Since Roddick seems to be spearheading this latest revolt to change the tour (which certainly will eliminate all injuries), here's a suggestion to he and others:
1. Stop committing to so many rinky dink events simply because they guarantee such lavish appearance fees. This might help avoid too rigorous a schedule.
2. Quit globetrotting to so many hit and giggle exhibitions (even if the tennis itself isn't taxing, the travel takes its toll). I know a lot of the players are extremely charitable in many of these efforts, and should be commended for that, but many are in it for the buck too. Whatever the case, learn to say "No." sometimes.
3. See 2 in terms of your non-tennis activities, i.e. endorsements, commercials, etc.

heya
01-12-2006, 08:35 PM
3. Learn tennis lessons from Spanish coaches
4. End the butt kissing

el güero
01-12-2006, 10:53 PM
Pigpen Stinks: this is all very true. But it's still just part of the whole picture.

Of course, at the end, the players make their own decisions independently about how much they play. But the problem is that with this system, the players, freewillingly, end up playing too much and get injured. I mean, nobody actually forces us to eat too much, but there are still a lot of overweight people. (No offence to anyone, I'm just looking at the situation from a structuralist perspective as a social problem.)

Now, you could say that it's your own fault - why do you have to eat so much? But just as legitimate it is to ask, why does the system have to produce such fatty food. Why does it encourage gluttony? And why shouldn't we regulate food production to solve the problem?

So you can look at the problem (there being too many injuries) from these two angles. Roger has the individualist perspective, naturally, 'cause he's been doing just fine as it is. Andy, however, tries to take a broader system perspective. Cutting down the amount of tournaments or at least weeks in the season, would definitely ease the problem - even if it would restrict the freedom of greedy players to "earn" more money.

heya
01-12-2006, 11:38 PM
A Roddick Team member told a writer, "A player has to give back to the community."
Not just a couple of exhibitions and promotional appearances.

That's like saying, "Join the NBA, but you need to go to the Playboy mansion, participate in auctions. Advertise basketball while other NBA players practice a lot + play basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters sometimes."

nobama
01-12-2006, 11:54 PM
Take a page from Roger Federer, and learn to schedule properly. Sure, the guy still gets his million dollar appearance fees at selected events, but he prioritizes to make sure he's at his peak for the majors. While it has been disappointing to see the likes of Roger, Sampras and Agassi skip Davis Cup over the course of their careers, it also should be noted that they have been wise enough to know what their bodies can tolerate. By the way, I haven't noticed Roger grumbling too much about changing the schedule.
Actually this is what Fed said in an interview in 2004:

http://www.sportsmediainc.net/tennisweek/index.cfm?func=showarticle&newsid=11718&bannerregion=
Tennis Week: What do you make of the talk of player withdrawals, player injuries resulting from a long season and players defending their right to withdraw to protect themselves from aggravating injuries. I saw Roddick's comments in Paris earlier this week..

Roger Federer: What did he say?

Tennis Week: He basically said "In what other sport do you play 11 months of the year? I am going to finish my season on December 5th and start next year on January 5th. I would rather pull out of an event than injure myself. If they can't understand the way an athlete works, it's too bad." Is the schedule too long? Is it too long? Does it need to be shortened to protect the players from injuries? What do you think?

Roger Federer: I think in a way the season is definitely long. But you can adjust your schedule. Scheduling is very important in my career. I have to make sure I don't just chase tournaments. I just play my schedule I really like to play. I don't think that is an excuse for any of the players because that's just how the tour is. We have a great tour. We should not forget that. We have many, many highlights in our year and you have to be ready for them. And sometimes you are tired. Don't play if you are too tired. If you think, "I really should help the sport", you know you should go play even though you are tired, but still make sure you prevent injuries.

Tennis Week: So you have to take care of yourself.

Roger Federer: You have to take care of yourself. You have to be aggressive sometimes, but not all the time. Think about the fans around the world who want to see you. Think about tournament directors who love to have you there. Think about the sponsors who support the game. I think you have to make it up to all of them. Because we are living our dreams basically because of them. We didn't start when we were three years old because we wanted to play on Wimbledon's Centre Court. We started because we loved playing, we loved hitting the ball and suddenly we make it there. We live the tour and let's say we start saying: "Oh, the tour is too long, I'm too tired." I don't agree.

Tennis Week: You can't have it both ways.

Roger Federer: No. You have to make some sacrifices for this life we have. You can't play tennis 'till you're 60. The career already stops at 30 or 35 years old because then your body is used, you're tired of traveling and so on, so you might as well enjoy it now while you can.

stebs
01-13-2006, 05:58 PM
feb - aus
march - aus
april
may - RG
june -
july - W
augast - W
sept
oct - US
nov -

how about that for a grand slam schedule? i think it would work well. However I personally dont want to see anything change. I like the tradition. Having Wimby and RG so close together is awesome. Then we see who really has bottle in the tennis world.

Pigpen Stinks
01-13-2006, 07:34 PM
Pigpen Stinks: this is all very true. But it's still just part of the whole picture.

Of course, at the end, the players make their own decisions independently about how much they play. But the problem is that with this system, the players, freewillingly, end up playing too much and get injured. I mean, nobody actually forces us to eat too much, but there are still a lot of overweight people. (No offence to anyone, I'm just looking at the situation from a structuralist perspective as a social problem.)

Now, you could say that it's your own fault - why do you have to eat so much? But just as legitimate it is to ask, why does the system have to produce such fatty food. Why does it encourage gluttony? And why shouldn't we regulate food production to solve the problem?

So you can look at the problem (there being too many injuries) from these two angles. Roger has the individualist perspective, naturally, 'cause he's been doing just fine as it is. Andy, however, tries to take a broader system perspective. Cutting down the amount of tournaments or at least weeks in the season, would definitely ease the problem - even if it would restrict the freedom of greedy players to "earn" more money.

el guero, I understand your points, and don't disagree. I'm just a bit skeptical about who the greedy players are when it comes to these complaints about the length of the schedule. For example, if the season ended in October and didn't start up until February, do you not suppose that there would be one, and more likely several, exhibition tournaments that pop up exclusively for the highest ranked players? I just think those types of changes would only serve to make the rich even richer. Still think the players need to pay heed to Federer as the previous post quotes. Learn to schedule smarter.

Another thing about Roger, he's by far the most available spokeman for the sport. Roddick may be more visible, but Roger makes more time for media to promote the game.

sweetiepiedoll
01-13-2006, 08:00 PM
The best thing for Andy to do is keep his mouth shut & play at his highest potential so that he can reach the final & win the Austrailian Championship against whomever the opponent may be (Federer, Hewitt, etc). Then, when he wins the title he can give an interview with Brad Gilbert (this will also help promote Brad's "Winning Ugly" book).

heya
01-13-2006, 10:11 PM
Do you think anyone taught him to shut his trap? Nuoo
Then again, he doesn't badmouth his opponents.