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Gridlock! 12/09/2008 - 12:03 PM

by Pete Bodo

Howdy, everyone. I've got a busy day here at the mothership, with a monthly planning meeting and then a video shoot (in a proper studio, no less!) with my compadre Jon Levey later in the afternoon. I won't be around much today. But remember, we'll have our book group meeting tomorrow (subject: A Champion's Mind, and Pete Sampras and his career in general)  in two sessions, including the evening. The evening session will be late-ish (around 9 PM), because my little family is hooking up with the Friedmans (Andrew, Caitlin and their twins, Declan and Taylor) for an early pizza dinner - the mozzarella will be flying! I see it as a spousally-approved opportunity to drink beer.

Yesterday, I wrote a post for ESPN on the ATP CEO job that is up for grabs, now that Etienne de Villiers has decided to call it quits (under pressure from various factions in the game). Essentially, I think this is a non-story because I just don't get the sense that people seek real change (other than in increased prize money) in the way the ATP and pro tennis operate. And even if they do, change is almost impossible to implement.

Mac Tennis is in a state of gridlock, with an over-loaded calendar (and remember, all of those tournaments have legal rights and financial investments that can be made to appear very hefty in a court of law) and a de-centralized structure (that's a fancy way to say the the oddly scattered Grand Slam events are the focal points of the game). Maybe that's not even such a bad thing, because this much is for sure: every aspiring Wimbledon champ or ATP journeyman has a seemingly endless menu of options, in terms of playing opportunity.

This should not be overlooked, but it usually is because the bully pulpit belongs to the top stars, and they undoubtedly resent the work load they are expected to carry. I can't blame them, either - the bottom line is that they tote the game forward.

In the end, the ATP CEO is hemmed in on all sides - by tournaments, players, agents - and each constituency has both turf to protect and self-interest to promote. Think about it - what kind of power does the CEO really have? Two recent controversies should put the CEO's position into perspective - the rebellion against the ill-fated "round-robin" experiment, and the Hamburg demotion.

The round-robin fiasco showed how quick the players are to criticize their leadership, and also how reluctant they are to tamper with the basic format to which they are accustomed. Even though the short trial run pr round-robin was a poorly thought-out fiasco, it did demonstrate that an ATP CEO can conceive and implement policy. He just can't make it work, through sheer force of personality or the collective will of the constituents. De Villiers, for any or all of his flaws, neither took his office as a sinecure, nor did he suffer from analysis paralysis - always a threat when people start raising "what ifs?"

Hamburg was a more telling case. Look at the protracted time line on the saga; and consider the relatively minor degree of real change that the calendar realignment implied; factor in the astronomical costs of implementing that change and the fierce and often bitter debate accompanying it. Now you can see what a nominal CEO is up against.  A comparable leader in a different enterprise probably could re-structure an entire company, or change its direction, in less time, at a lower cost.

So it's pretty clear that the head of the ATP has severe limitations on what he can undertake, never mind accomplish - which isn't exactly a tantalizing prospect for a visionary, or entrepreneurial spirit. And let's always keep in mind that the ATP has the least amount of control and authority over the four most important events - the Grand Slams. That's why abandoning its role as a player union in favor of becoming the tour organizer and administrator was such a critical decision by the ATP. Sure, the ATP theoretically and arguably represents the most important constituents in the game -the players. But since the players and ATP are formally partners with the tournaments, it's hard to envision them going to war against each other. The word we're looking for is "internicine" conflict.

The ATP CEO is, first of all, an administrator/negotiator; does that sound like the kind of job the next Bill Gates wants to take? Secondly, he's a figurehead. There's a faction in the game - I call them the "realists" - who acknowledge that and it shapes their preferences. To a realist, the most you can expect from the ATP is a leader like the WTA's Larry Scott, whose main strengths are a deep, insider's knowledge of the workings of the tour, and an ability to re-arrange the chess pieces on the board through hard, skillful, dedicated, disciplined negotiation.

Then there are the "idealists" - you can tell them by their oft-expressed desire to bring in a CEO fromn "outside the game" - someone with a vision for the game and a willingness to roll the die and shake things up. De Villiers was essentially an idealists' choice. And that faction must be in retreat. So it seems that the challenge lies in finding an insider as deft as Scott to take over the job. I don't know enough about Brad Drewett's history in the  back rooms of the game to have strong feelings either way but, like Scott, he's a former player who's labored in the administrative and promotional trenches for a long time - my guess is that he's the top contender.

I can think of one guy among the contenders (some Big Dogs, including John P. McEnroe and the Miami Masters founder, Butch Buccholz, are out of the hunt) who has credentials that would certainly satisfy the realists, and who's enough of an entrepeneur to satisfy at least some idealists - the Hopman Cup founder and former Australian Open tournament director, Paul McNamee. But I have no idea if he's interested, or under consideration.

My gut feeling is that when the ATP does announce its decision, it will be a conservative one. I doubt that anyone is going to herald the dawning of a "new era," especially when you factor in the global economic climate. More likely, the choice will elict a collective shrug. The larger problem, which existed even before our current financial crisis developed, is that at the most fundamental level (player compensation, across the board) the game has not advanced - at all. The prize-money figures are a good baseline for determining growth, and by that standard tennis hasn't grown all that much - or if it has, the rewards haven't trickled down to those who most deserve it, the players.

Of course, you choose whatever quantifiable standards you wish in forming your judgments. The sheer volume of tournaments is certainly a sign of health, even if player-compensation is stagnant. In other words, there are plenty of cars "in the box", but none of them can rev their engines at high RPM because we're in gridlock.


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Posted by NP 12/09/2008 at 12:08 PM

So two Sampras sessions. Sweet.

Posted by Maha (TMF = King of my Heart) 12/09/2008 at 12:17 PM

Second!!! Wooohooooo.

Gridlock! I remember that as a Doctor Who episode!!!

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 12/09/2008 at 12:18 PM

Pete Apparently Paul applied for the job,but was told he was not in contention,a real shame,he is a great typical knockabout aussie guy,huge smile,nothing gets him flustered,great ideas man,has had great success in our tournaments here in oz,oh well,back to the drawing board,as they say.

Posted by Sher 12/09/2008 at 12:21 PM

I'm growing oddly fond of the oddity that is tennis calendar. I just wish there was more grass/clay parts than there is.

On ET, I see where you're coming from about the limits imposed on him, but...

>The ATP CEO is, first of all, an administrator/negotiator

This is where I think he failed, foremost.

A rather obvious example: Nadal is not normally known for being overly critical, but ET actually got him saying things like "I don't ever want to speak to this guy again" in interview. Nadal! Who doesn't deviate from "I will try 100%" most days!

And Federer isn't known for his difficult personality either, but he was saying "this is a cry for help" kind of things. And Andy Roddick is quoted as saying he hopes the future generation won't have to "put up with the kind of shit he's had to put up with".

I can go on. What I mean is, regardless of whether the idea behind ET's changes was sound, he managed to antagonize the top players enough that these guys who normally give pretty much bullet-proof diplomatic answers were openly critical.

Similar story with tournament directors and other officials of the game.

If ET was supposed to be first and foremost an administrator/negotiator, than he failed at that.

Also he thinks putting advertisements on the net is a good idea. That makes him the devil.

Posted by Maha (TMF = King of my Heart) 12/09/2008 at 12:27 PM

OOOOH ET sounds like he's in more danger of being hunted down and dissected (or squished) than a real Extra Terrestrial.

Aussiemarg! Hope you get your puppies! AND kittens!

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 12/09/2008 at 12:30 PM

The current Atp Officials to me have "lost the plot" in terms of their approach and understanding of their players,these guys are not machines,they are supreme athletes,but in saying that,some of these players are getting more injuries,also the fatique factor,has hit a number of them this year especially.Brad Drewitt has come out and said,the players like the new playing schedule for 2009,also the fans hold a similar view.I would love to know where he obtained this information from.

Posted by Maha (TMF = King of my Heart) 12/09/2008 at 12:31 PM

OK.... guess I'll go do piano practice until dinner at 6:00.

NP... much as I LOVE your encouraging piano videos, let's not have 'em today, eh? :D

Bye!!!!

Posted by Pete 12/09/2008 at 12:37 PM

Dear readers: please try not to use posts as a message board, esp. when they first go up. Go with some sort of IM function in your browser instead. Red meat posts really ought to be treated as On Topic discussion forums.

Posted by NP 12/09/2008 at 12:37 PM

Don't worry, Maha. I believe those two videos were a year's worth of encouragement.

Posted by Sher 12/09/2008 at 12:39 PM

Also, this is funny!


from Shark bites
==

Next year the Mutua Madrilena Masters will replace the Hamburg Masters in May, so who is the defending champion of the 2009 tournament, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray? - Tom Phan, Paris, France

The defending champion is Andy Murray. He won the title in Madrid although the tournament will now be played outdoors on clay. Hamburg will be an ATP World Tour 500 level tournament held in July

==

Posted by NP 12/09/2008 at 12:41 PM

Gothca, Pete. Didn't mean to use this post as a chat room.

Posted by Jimmy Mulligan 12/09/2008 at 01:01 PM

Pete thank you for writing this inside look at the managament responsability and explaining some of the things that are in the works. This is very interesting.

For some reason though I get the feeling you know alot more than you are letting on.
Why is John P. McEnroe out?

man, if you could only make up a crazy pen name and let loose with a bunch of real interesting perspectives on what could happen and who could make things happen! Then you wouldn't get on anybodies bad side.
I guess there would be enough information on something like that to write a book? ....but of course people with the golden goose dont like you to go around telling everybody that they have a golden goose do they?lol

Posted by Jimmy Mulligan 12/09/2008 at 01:01 PM

Pete thank you for writing this inside look at the managament responsability and explaining some of the things that are in the works. This is very interesting.

For some reason though I get the feeling you know alot more than you are letting on.
Why is John P. McEnroe out?

man, if you could only make up a crazy pen name and let loose with a bunch of real interesting perspectives on what could happen and who could make things happen! Then you wouldn't get on anybodies bad side.
I guess there would be enough information on something like that to write a book? ....but of course people with the golden goose dont like you to go around telling everybody that they have a golden goose do they?lol

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/09/2008 at 01:05 PM

Hey all,

It would be good to have someone who could understand and relate to the players, even if they couldn't only act on their behalf - I guess that would likely mean one of the 'realist' ones with a deep inside knowledge of how the tour works. Maybe some veteran players could be groomed for the job in a few years' time.

*amuses self with thoughts of Johnny Mac running the ATP*

Sometimes it can be hard to tell which posts are red-meat ones and which rules apply to the others, for example, differences between Watercooler and Your Call posts can be hard to remember. I think I remember reading somewhere that the first 100 comments on a watercooler post should be on-topic, but I've been reading through the archives a lot and that might be an old rule?

Posted by Tigress (Lucky 13) 12/09/2008 at 01:06 PM

Looking at the details of the new 2009 ATP ranking point system, it appears to me that it’s going to bring major changes in the way points are awarded and perhaps even in the player rankings. Far far more changes than I and probably many others here had expected. I had thought that all awarded points would simply be doubled, maintaining the relative point values between winning a tournament and being a finalist, semifinalist etc. This is not the case. Here are three important areas where the 2009 changes will be significant:

1. The new system heavily increases the value of winning larger tournaments (Grand Slams, Masters 1000, and 500). The winner’s point total doubles (200%) from 1000(old system) to 2000 (new system) in GS and from 500 to 1000 in Masters 1000. But the losing finalist’s total only rises from 700 to 1200 in GS (171%) and 350 to 600 in Masters 1000 (171%). Semifinalists points rise only from 450 to 720 in GS (160%) and 225 to 360 in 1000’s (160%). Quarterfinalists points rise only from 250 to 360 in GS (146%) and 125 to 180 in Masters 1000 (144%). Round of 16 losers rise only from 150 to 180 (120%) in GS and 75 to 90 in Masters 1000 (120%). And so on down the line. Finishing higher wins a much increased relative value of ranking points under the new system. I think this is a good development.

2. The ranking points importance of small tournaments which have only 250 status is severely diminished. For example, Federer gained 225 points last year for winning Halle. But this year winning would only net him 250 points. If the Halle winners points were doubled (Like GS’s, 1000s and many 500 tournaments) the winner’s points at Halle would be 450. So relative to last year, Roger would take a 200 point LOSS by winning Halle again. On the other hand, tournaments like Basel that got 500 Tournament status are enhanced.

3. This is a year of transition from one system to a non-equivalent new one. How will the points drop off this year? Will they drop off at last year’s value or this year’s. Example: Federer won 1400 (700 x 2) points as the losing finalist at Wimbledon last year. At this year’s Wimby, will 1400 points drop off his total (last year’s rate) or will only 1200 drop off (this year’s rate). Since non-winners point totals are so different from last year, this is going to have profound consequences and could even change ranking positions all the way up to #2, where Fed and Nole are separated by only 10 points. Either way there will be major effects.

I hope this was fairly clear and not too long. The main point is that the new system is going to have huge and still unknown effects this year. Maybe Pete, Master Ace or one of our other experts here could write a detailed article explaining these changes and examining their consequences for tennis in ’09.

Pete, I hope you are still here and will offer your insights on this issue.


Posted by Pspace 12/09/2008 at 01:15 PM

Poor EdV. At least he tried to bring change, and was ready to fail,e.g., with the round-robin experiment. I don't believe that the players really want that much change. For example, Fed has been lukewarm to suggestions of a longer grass season between RG and Wimby. Has the player's union gotten some sort of desiderata written up? Or, do they just want another Larry Scott?

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 12/09/2008 at 01:16 PM

Sher,

Your 12:21pm post was spot on.

I knew something was amiss when Roger and Rafa began bad-mouthing the system and the leadership.

And, not to beat a dead horse, but doesn't anyone get concerned about the state of the game when one of its fittest marquis players (Nadal) is complaining about the pre-RG clay-court schedule?

**Also he thinks putting advertisements on the net is a good idea. That makes him the devil.**

Yeah, I've always hated seeing those Mercedes and now Lexus symbols on the nets. Of course, with the current condition of the American auto industry, at least we won't have to worry about seeing "GM" beside the net posts.

Posted by Pspace 12/09/2008 at 01:20 PM

Tigress, I agree with your No. 1. Regarding No. 3, yes, this is the way they're going to make the transition, which seems kinda stupid. After all, this is why we have computers, so that a recalculation is possible. I wonder what the No. 2 situation would be if the new system had applied this year. It's not clear that it would change the No. 2 situation.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/09/2008 at 01:22 PM

But presumably the players want somebody who will take into account the few changes they DO want, in that case. And who will not impose changes that they don't want. Or who can make players think they DO want such changes, after all - Sher's point about being a good negotiator.

That's an interesting point actually - do the players get any say in who is appointed? Does the player committee get to look the candidates over and give an opinion, or are they kind of left out of the loop?

Posted by Arun 12/09/2008 at 01:24 PM

I think if the newer ranking_points had been used (i.e., 1200 points for GS finalists and so on), YE #2 would've clearly changed hands, no?

Posted by Pspace 12/09/2008 at 01:29 PM

Arun, I dunno. Fed prolly has the advantage in GS points. The question is whether Nole did well enough in the Masters Series to overcome this gap. I'm not sure, but yeah it seems likely to me.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/09/2008 at 01:33 PM

My head just bursts when I try to work out the new ranking system...and the transition period is going to make it really hard to work out who is where and how far apart they are in reality.

Posted by Arun 12/09/2008 at 01:33 PM

Also, at the start of the next season, THIS year's ranking points for each player will be doubled up, right? Instead, why can't they apply the newer ranking system directly, so that the players know right from the start of the season, whey they actually stand according to the newer ranking system.

Posted by Sher 12/09/2008 at 01:38 PM

>>Also he thinks putting advertisements on the net is a good idea. That makes him the devil.
>Yeah, I've always hated seeing those Mercedes and now Lexus symbols on the nets

You've seen them used before? I'm talking about the 'experiment' last year where the net on the court has "ATP" or some kind of a sponsor name on it, not any nets surrounding the court. I've never seen it before outside of that tryout between Federer and Nadal to see how it works (it didn't), and I hope it dies a quick and painful death.

Posted by Sher 12/09/2008 at 01:41 PM

We are going to have so much fun trying to predict who could take number 1 next year, because of all the changes in the calendar & ranking points. The casual fans will be confused as hell but I think for us it'll be fun to figure things out.

Posted by Veruca Salt 12/09/2008 at 01:42 PM

Unlike what Tio Toni thinks, I don't think it matters if the new ATP head is American or European. I think what is going to matter most to the players is having a person who really cares about their interests and concerns.

I would like to see someone at the helm who still considers tennis to be a sport and not just a big business venture.

Posted by Arun 12/09/2008 at 01:43 PM

*where they actually

Pspace: I too didn't do the actual calculations. But, I thought Fed might actually lose out to Nole, because the tournaments he won were smaller ones (except USO) compared to those won by Novak; meaning Roger would lose more (even though he went deeper in all the GSs) according to the new system compared to Nole..

Posted by Sher 12/09/2008 at 01:44 PM

>I would like to see someone at the helm who still considers tennis to be a sport and not just a big business venture.

ditto.


However, I forgive ET a lot of things for giving us WTF. That will never stop being funny.

Posted by Tigress (Lucky 13) 12/09/2008 at 01:45 PM

Pspace: I couldn't quite glean from your 1:20 post which way they're going on recalibrating ranking points for next year. Are they just going to subsitute the new '09 point values at the start of the year? Or are they going to just double everyone's points and then adjust to the new system tournament by tournament? And if the latter, which way are they going to strip off points?

Have the new ranking figures been published anywhere? Questions, questions. This is somewhere between a muddle and a mess.

Posted by Sher 12/09/2008 at 01:46 PM

Arun,

however, Federer's GS record is SF-F-F-W
and Novak's is W-S-2R(?)-SF

Posted by Pspace 12/09/2008 at 01:52 PM

Tigress, no, they're going to double the '08 points. So, for example, if Tsonga loses in the Oz F again, he will be docked points (1200 - 1400 = -200), which is really silly and just delays the true rankings from showing through.

Posted by Pspace 12/09/2008 at 01:55 PM

My source for this information is Master Ace. And usually, I don't bother fact checking what he tells me :).

Posted by Sher 12/09/2008 at 01:55 PM

by the way, I will really miss being able to compare different eras. For example, if in 2009 some player reaches 8000 year end ranking points it'll mean squat because of the doubling and all that jazz. Whereas now we can look at 8000+ points vs 6000+ points as some kind of benchmarks of success.

Just like it's impossible to compare ATP MS finals when they are best of three to the old best-of-five format (which I miss so much *sob*), we now won't be able to say if someone's reached a milestone in point system.

Posted by Pspace 12/09/2008 at 01:59 PM

Sher, come on...you're a CS geek, right? :) This is what we live for. Think of various simulations to compare across the years. It would make for so much fun.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/09/2008 at 02:03 PM

I miss the five-set Masters finals too. *sigh*

Pspace, I have a feeling we will all be relying on Master Ace for a lot of the ranking points and stuff next year. :)

anyway, off for the evening, see you all later. :)

Posted by Sher 12/09/2008 at 02:04 PM

*mourns era comparisons*

==

What is the least amount of ATP ranking points that a player had when he ranked No. 1 and who had the most points? - Ray-Fong Wei, Bangkok, Thailand

Since the present points scale has been used going back to 2000, Pete Sampras had the lowest point total (3,697) for a No. 1 on Nov. 6, 2000 while Roger Federer had the highest point total (8,370) on Nov. 20, 2006.
==

Posted by Sher 12/09/2008 at 02:05 PM

Pspace, I suck at statistics. But Andrew and Master Ace should have a ball!

Posted by Arun 12/09/2008 at 02:07 PM

Sher @ 1:46 - That's even more the reason why I think Fed will actually lose out to Nole.. Both the players have a victory and a SF in 2 GSs each.. Comparing their results in 2 other GSs (according to the newer system) Fed will lose 400 points (2*1200s vs 2*1400s) for his 2 GS final appearances, while Novak with 1 SF and 2nd round loss (700 instead of 900 for SF, and 60(?) instead of 70 for 2nd round) would lose less than 250 ranking points, at max? Thus, is there a greater chance that he would lose out to Nole ultimately (even though Fed did better in GSs)? **confused**

I too wish this ranking point change never came.. But, Fed's 2006 performance is the easiest to transform according to the newer system. :P

Posted by Pspace 12/09/2008 at 02:10 PM

Arun, stop being lazy, and break out your calculator :)

Posted by ptenisnet 12/09/2008 at 02:19 PM

Arun:
Federer
1000 + 1000 - USO
700 + 500 - French
700 + 500 - Wimbledon
450 + 350 - Oz

Nole
1000 + 1000 - Oz
450 + 250 - French
450 + 250 - USO
35 + 25 - Wimbledon


Is that right?

Posted by Bismarck 12/09/2008 at 02:26 PM

but Sher,
the current system wasn´t even a decade old.
you can´t tell me you had many "eras" in that grand total of 8 years.
maybe three, at best.
"comparing eras" was already quite a bit more work.
and if you´re willing to do the work, comparing 2009 and beyond with the past is still possible.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 12/09/2008 at 02:29 PM

Sher,

Uh... yeah. Seen 'em used all the time. Attached to the net, right next to the net posts. Both sides. Used to use Mercedes whe it was sponsor of the Master Series events. Now it's Lexus, I believe. At any rate, I've seen the Lexus symbol in its L-shaped glory, and I can't imagine how the players are NOT distracted by it.

Posted by Sher 12/09/2008 at 02:31 PM

*confused*

Posted by Sher 12/09/2008 at 02:33 PM

Slice-n-Dice, do you mean on the far right and left ends of the net? I've seen those, yes.

This is in the middle of the net, centre of the court.

Bismarck, my brain hurts just from the 2009-2008 transition, I'm going to have to rely on the dedication of people like Sharko for any true era comparisons. :)

Posted by Sher 12/09/2008 at 02:34 PM

Forget players, _I_ am distracted by those!

Posted by Bismarck 12/09/2008 at 02:35 PM

ptenis,
isnt it more like:
federer
1000 + 1000
700 + 500
700 + 500
450 + 270 (isn´t 720 the new number for a slam SF?)

nole
1000 + 1000
450 + 270
450 + 270
35 + dunno the number (25?)

Posted by Bismarck 12/09/2008 at 02:37 PM

jejeje, Sher.
i don´t like the new model either. mainly cause i feel that the current one was nicely balanced. why change a working system?
conservatism rules! ;)

Posted by ptenisnet 12/09/2008 at 02:41 PM

bissy. i believe you are right.

Posted by Arun 12/09/2008 at 02:42 PM

Thanks for clarifying it, Bissy! Glad to make you all more confused. :)

Posted by ptenisnet 12/09/2008 at 02:43 PM

Can't believe agassi was in the top 10 for 16 years.

Posted by crazyone 12/09/2008 at 02:49 PM

do most players even *play* for 16 seasons?


Posted by Pspace 12/09/2008 at 02:52 PM

ptenisnet, yeah, Agassi's career is what makes the Fed-Sampras comparison difficult. He was in the top 10 even towards the end of his career at age 34 or so. This lends a lot of credibility to the weak era argument. However, one could also argue that the slower surfaces helped him a lot more than his peers.

Posted by Pspace 12/09/2008 at 02:52 PM

Hey McCrazyone.

Posted by ptenisnet 12/09/2008 at 02:56 PM

The guy was top 10 for 16 of 18 years on the tour. What a crazy stat.

And Connors 16/16. Even more ridiculous.

Posted by crazyone 12/09/2008 at 02:59 PM

hey CS Ner...I mean Pspace.


Posted by NP 12/09/2008 at 03:01 PM

My pick for the craziest stat in tennis history: Johnny Mac's 2 UFEs in the entire 1984 final, against a mediocre slugger named Connors.

Posted by NP 12/09/2008 at 03:02 PM

Wimby final, I mean, not that you didn't know.

Posted by Pspace 12/09/2008 at 03:03 PM

Jeez, I thought a comparison to Mac was a compliment, in these circles.

Posted by ptenisnet 12/09/2008 at 03:08 PM

I think agassi's game just didn't have an aspect which taxed any specific body part too much.

Posted by NP 12/09/2008 at 03:18 PM

Wilander on Agassi:

"He has some limitations, like he can’t serve and volley, yet he has won all four Slams. He has a very high energy level, quite like Borg. He is on fifth gear from the very first point. There is some abnormality in his eyes, otherwise he wouldn’t have had such a phenomenal return. He sees the ball like none else and just guides it wherever he wants to. He’s just played a Grand Slam final at 35, that tells me he wasted the first five years of his career, otherwise he couldn’t have lasted this long. No one has done more to tennis than Agassi and Borg."

Let's also not forget Andre was practically off the tour for a year (mostly 1997).

Posted by ptenisnet 12/09/2008 at 03:26 PM

Pete
Is it a question of prize-money not trickling down to the players or is the problem that this is the most prize money the market can bear?

Posted by ptenisnet 12/09/2008 at 03:27 PM

Let's also not forget Andre was practically off the tour for a year (mostly 1997).

And what's impressive is that he was back in the top 10 in 98.

Posted by NP 12/09/2008 at 03:34 PM

True, ptenis. It's one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.

Posted by NP 12/09/2008 at 03:38 PM

BTW is this today's Watercooler? And if so is there a rule that says off-topic talk is forbidden in the 1st 100 comments?

Posted by ptenisnet 12/09/2008 at 03:41 PM

This isn't a watercooler. This is an on-topic post.
Feelings might be the right place to go OT.

Posted by Sherlock 12/09/2008 at 03:50 PM

Very interesting post, Pete. Thanks. :)

It sure does stink having to acknowledge that real calendar change will never, ever happen.

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 12/09/2008 at 03:51 PM

Andre to me,still in a lot of ways,dosent get the credit,he is due,tennis to me died in a lot of ways,when he retired,I loved watching him play,he brought everything on court,when he played,also a lot of credit should go to one,Mr.Gil Reyes,who brought back Andre from the dark side,Andre and Gil,shared one special relationship,mutal respect,Gil Reyes,a great mentor in so many ways.Andre you will always remain deep in my heart.

Posted by NP 12/09/2008 at 03:53 PM

Thx, ptenis, but I'm actually more interested in the 2nd question.

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Tennis!) 12/09/2008 at 03:54 PM

Sher > "Also he thinks putting advertisements on the net is a good idea. That makes him the devil."

Lol sher - this drew me from lurking; how the hail can writing across the net me a 'good' thing? its gotta be all sorts of funky to play with.

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 12/09/2008 at 04:05 PM

To achieve the "perfect tennis calender" is really pie in the sky thinking,never going to happen.I would like to see,more player involvement in this area,not just one or two of the top players,gee what about a more across the board approach,officials must listen more carefully,in all areas of their players,these players hold the key,to tournaments,not the big sponsors with their big bucks etc,listen,gee you will learn a lot.

Posted by Jackie 12/09/2008 at 04:10 PM

Don't want to add to the confusion, but this is flagged as a both a State of the Game and a Watercooler post so I'm guessing a lil' off-topic-ness is okay after the on-topic discussions die down?

Posted by 12/09/2008 at 04:12 PM

Jackie, where is it flagged as a Watercooler? Pete asked everyone to stay on topic here.

Posted by Jackie 12/09/2008 at 04:19 PM

If you look right beneath the post, you'll see a few different links, including what category the post belongs in (i.e., where it's "filed").

Posted by Vie 12/09/2008 at 04:20 PM

Regarding implementing the revised points system:

The way to do it, I think, is at the beginning of 2009, ranking points should be doubled, to be in par with the achieved, rolling ranking. And then as each tournament occurs, the point for each from the previous year is dropped, and the new point allocation for it in the new system is added after the tournament. In this way the integrity of achieved 52-week ranking is preserved, and the new point allocations will kick in for a tournament when it reaches the 52-week period.

Posted by ptenisnet 12/09/2008 at 04:23 PM

my bad jackie. thanks for pointing that out. i was looking for the little watercooler picture.

Posted by Jackie 12/09/2008 at 04:39 PM

No prob, ptenisnet. It does sometimes get confusing to figure out what's what. 'Cept with the DC. ;)

Posted by beth 12/09/2008 at 05:05 PM

so , is this the watercooler ?
is this where folks are hanging out ?

Posted by Jackie 12/09/2008 at 05:06 PM

Hey beth!

I know I'm here ... ;)

Posted by 12/09/2008 at 05:09 PM

Why can't there just be a separate off-topic thread every day? That way those of us who are always late to the party can still comment on the 'tennis' post without feeling like we're interrupting a new discussion.

Posted by beth 12/09/2008 at 05:11 PM

headless , please - go ahead and comment on tennis
and the post as written
you will not disturb anyone

Jackie - glad to see ya , so to speak
I am happy , just found out I won tickets to the Rose Bowl in the ticket lottery
so , I get to go to the game on New Year's day
should be a good one

Posted by Jackie 12/09/2008 at 05:17 PM

OMG, beth! That's AWESOME. You'll have a smashing good time, I'm sure.

Random q - has anyone confirmed where the DC will be played? Whitney says there are rumors about Greenville, SC (I had just heard Texas). I have family there, so I'm PRAYING it comes to fruition. Plus, I'd get to meet Whit. :)

Posted by Jackie 12/09/2008 at 05:20 PM

I'm with beth, headless. Pretty sure you're not interrupting any "discussion" at the moment.

*hears crickets chirping*

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/09/2008 at 05:23 PM

I'm here too but not sure whether I can go OT or not...I have run out of things to say on the post topic. :)

Hey, everyone. :)

Posted by Jenni 12/09/2008 at 05:24 PM

Jackie, no city has been officially chosen but I have to think San Antonio is the front-runner. I am headed down there sometime this month so I will scout out locations for a TW DC party on the Riverwalk. ;)

Posted by Jackie 12/09/2008 at 05:26 PM

Thanks for the info, Jenni! (And it's been too long. :))

Yeah, I assumed that was the case. Sigh. Will you get to go?

Posted by Jackie 12/09/2008 at 05:28 PM

Although if I went, I imagine it would be such a harrowing time ... I'd feel so un-American (just confirming NP's accusation).

Posted by Jenni 12/09/2008 at 05:28 PM

Jackie, we'll see. If it didn't mean I'd have to watch Federer I'd almost certainly go, so I'll have to wait on the price of tickets.

Posted by Pete 12/09/2008 at 05:28 PM

You can all go OT if you wish from now on, and I will seriously consider this suggestion of having an OT thread every day except when other OT friendly posts are up. I have to re-think things a bit here, but for now I can say tomorrow is Pete Sampras book day. . . thanks everyone for trying to play ball as best you can; i know your intentions are in the right place. Gotta run now.

Posted by beth 12/09/2008 at 05:29 PM

jackie - so you are thinking of going to DC ? You will have a busy March - just full of travel

I am excited about the tickets
but I only got two - so will have to figure out if I can get 2 more so the whole family can go , or we will have to figure out which of us gets to use them

Posted by beth 12/09/2008 at 05:29 PM

enjoy the pizza, Pete !

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 12/09/2008 at 05:30 PM

beth congrats on you winning those Rose Bowl tickets,must be excited.

Posted by beth 12/09/2008 at 05:31 PM

AM - hi!
yes , it should be fun - doubt I will get there early enough to see the parade though
did that once , and that was enough

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 12/09/2008 at 05:35 PM

beth after watching the Super Bowl,on tv,when my NY Giants won,I would love to go there,the atmosphere,crowds,superstars,gee the whole lot,after last year,i am totally hooked.

Posted by Jackie 12/09/2008 at 05:35 PM

Jenni: BOOOOO. C'mon now, you don't gotta love Fed, but how can you not appreciate watching him?! He'd be my sole reason for going. ;)

beth: It's not gonna happen. If it happens to be in SC, though, I might have to seriously consider it!

Pete: Thanks for clarifying. :) I second beth - go nuts!

Posted by NP 12/09/2008 at 05:38 PM

Jackie, rooting against your country isn't un-American. It's treason. :)

Posted by Jackie 12/09/2008 at 05:41 PM

NP, you're gonna get me in trouble.

Seriously, though, can you imagine? Me with my Swiss flag and cheering my guts out for Fed and Stan ... those Texans would eat me for lunch.

Though there ARE tons of American Fed fans, to be sure ...

Posted by malimeda 12/09/2008 at 05:44 PM

I have never seen, anywhere, a straightforward 3-sentence explanation of why Hamburg and MC were demoted, what has been achieved by replacing Hamburg with Madrid and why was Shanghai added to Masters tally.

Lots of waffling there was about the subject, but never an uncluttered reason given.

If EdV was unable to do that, then he's no CEO material and good riddance.

The next person must be a communicator first.

That those mild Nos. 1 & 2 were furious with him speaks volumes.

As for the innovator tag, that is the last quality of a CEO in a list of qualities. It comes only after all others are present, not before.

Better do nothing than do a disastrous thing.

Posted by NP 12/09/2008 at 05:44 PM

Just so you know, Jackie, one of my closest friends is an FBI agent. For real.

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 12/09/2008 at 05:44 PM

np after your farewell comments last night,i would tread very carefully,still waters run deep you know.

Posted by 12/09/2008 at 05:46 PM

np stop boasting,here at RAFA INC,we despise boasting of any kind,Madame President,was about to eat her weeties,put off for sure no?

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