Monday, 13 July 2009

What sort of Tennis Tournaments do you Rejoice in where YOU come from?

"I don't rejoice in tennis tournaments at all", Alice said, "some of their names I rather dislike - especially the ATP 250's".

"Of course they have geo-sensitive names", the Gnat remarked carelessly.

"I never knew them to."

"What's the use of their having names the Gnat said, "if you can't tell where they're held?"

"No use to them,' said Alice; "but it's useful to the Sponsors who name them, I suppose. If not, why do events have names at all?"

-- 'Alison Lang through the Looking Glass'


And just like that, the world's blue again.

Well tennis courts are anyway. Is anybody else struck by just how bloody quickly it's happened?

It seems just yesterday that a teary eyed Federer gave us that runners-up acceptance speech in Melbourne, we witnessed that seismic Rafa upset in Paris, and that Federer was finally and rightfully crowned GOAT after serving 50 aces past A-Rod. Oh wait, that last one
was just yesterday, almost.

Three staggering images for three different surfaces.

Those first two might have touched a nerve. I know they both did for me.

Time for some band aid with what I consider to be perhaps the two most wonderfully iconic moments of 2009.

I feel better all ready :)

And yet, apart from a few pockets of descent, where clay court tennis will obstinately continue to be played out like a peculiar experiment in denial over the next month, the rest of the year will be
blue, momentum-conserving and feature elastically perfect bounces.

If, like me, you find post-Wimby July to be
by far the most boring tennis month of the year, and if like me you also rejoice in the power of oxymoronic totalities, you too will be spectacularly apathetic towards the tennis on offer in July.

Even more so than official downtime in December where, despite the absence of tennis, there is at least the sense that the lull in sumptuosities may be necessary to fully savour (and recover from) the decadence you've been party to. And have partied to.

I think what makes it so difficult for me is that it sits there quite unsure of it's mission in life, sandwiched between that period consisting of arguably the two most important months in the tennis calendar, but not quite yet at the stage where the action has cranked up in earnest in the build up to the US Open.

And what do they do, but fill this interval act up with
tier 3 clay court tennis. What an unimaginatively tragic knee-jerk reaction that is. Wasn't the clay court season meant to have ended in the first week of June? You can hardly describe it as a 'season' if you choose to have another three week stretch a couple of months later.

And yet Gstaad might have what it takes to challenge Monte Carlo's standing as the world's most scenic clay court event.

I want to live, work, and play there...
(Photo: ATP)

Clay or no clay, surroundings like that I do rejoice in.

Whatever your thoughts on clay court tennis in mid-July (and Michael Stich overseeing one of it's more important events), I've yet to hear a convincing argument as to why we can't use this stretch to accomodate a slightly lengthier grass court season.

Newport shows us it
can be done. Collective rejoicing for Rhode Island! Huzzah for Rajeev Ram! (Who also picked up the doubles title there with Jordan Kerr)

And as to the rest of the month, I'll probably only be tuning into the less swanky version of Hamburg, that will be featuring eight of the worlds top twenty.

That's pretty much what all the top players will be doing I imagine. All except Nikolay that is, who'll proudly be doing his annual bit for the
"Society for the Revival of Tennis Played on Surfaces Incongruous with their Position in the Tennis Calendar" and cementing his claim to being the ATP's contribution to the 'Consistency over Quality' debate. He got started this week in Stuttgart.

I also find it difficult to get overly-roused up by the happenings at Washington (Legg Mason Classic), LA (presented by Farmers Insurance), and Stanford (Bank of the West Classic). That's nobody's fault but my own. It's why I missed out on the first act of del Potro's meteoric rise up the rankings last year.

These events (and the Premier/Masters 1000s that follow them) form part of the US Open Series, the eventual winner of which will see their earnings double at the US Open. After winning the US Open in 2005, Clisjters was on the receiving end of a $2.2M payout that to this day stands as the largest ever payday in women's sports. (Of course Swiss Big-Cheese topped that in 2007 by earning $2.4M, the largest ever payout in US Open history. He does things like that).

But very little of those earlier events are televised here, and the fact that their titles read like the front page of the FT serves as an immediate turn off.

Though it is refreshing to see that the
LA Women's Tennis Championships (is being) presented by Herbalife, and not some Insurance Conglomerate headquartered in the Cayman Islands.

But I'm not sure I rejoice in it.

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