News from around the game.
No Roland Garros seeding change for Rafa
The amazing part of this is that it’s actually a story – that some people are actually outraged that the French Open, as it has done each year since 2001, will seed the players according to the ATP and WTA rankings.
Now, obviously there haven’t been too many nine-time champs in danger of not being seeded in the top four. But … where’s the story?
This guy calls it “baffling and idiotic”, although the logic of his impassioned argument doesn’t really hold up. But “all anyone wants to see” is a Nadal-Djokovic final. And apparently it will “ruin the tournament”. A little, dramatique, quoi? Simon Briggs find the notion that they won’t adjust the seeds “ridiculous”.
Here’s the thing. Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam that alters the seeds (and even then, usually only for the men). They used to do it via super-secret-probation committee, and magically come up with a list that no one dared question.Then they realized that probably wasn’t a good idea (Wimbledon is, after all, an official ITF event, not an independent entity like, say, the Masters in golf, which can – and does – write its own rules.
So they came up with a mathematical formula everyone seems all right with. It’s a formula that, with every passing year, seems somewhat unnecessary because there is so little play on grass, and as the years go by, the vast majority of the players are nearly equally as good on all surfaces and don’t play all that differently from surface to surface. If anything, Roland Garros might have more of a claim to special seedings, as there remain a lot of South American and European players who are vastly superior on that surface and struggle on the others.
But, anyway, it’s dangerous to open that can of worms. Because every time you set a threshold for where an exception should occur, that threshold eventually drops until it becomes meaningless. And, for those who didn’t follow tennis before Twitter, messing with seedings to give certain players an advantage can backfire in a big way.
(Worth noting there were only 16 seeds back then).
In the end, how is it the French Open’s “duty” to do do everything it can to “help” Nadal win another title? And what of the player who, theoretically, would be bumped from the No. 4 seed spot (say, theoretically, Kei Nishikori) that he has spent all year earning with his results?
They obviously did discuss it, because it’s Nadal. And it wouldn’t be right not to at least put it on the table, as they did last year before Nadal squeezed into the No. 4 spot just in time.
The answer is, it wouldn’t really be fair. So they’re not doing it. It’s really not a story.
No selfie sticks at Wimbledon
If you’re planning to bring your selfie stick into the All England Club this summer, to enhance your selfie-taking experience, you’ll be out of luck.
They will be a no-no.
“The problem is that the inventor of the sticks has created has created a device that is not only deeply irritating to those not using them but also a handy weapon,” says the Sunday Times. Anyone who’s been whacked in the head with one of them, in a crowd of fans around a practice court at a tournament, will concur.
The Palais de Versailles, The Colesseum and the Smithsonian have banned them (among other places), says the BBC. Along with MOMA in New York, Manchester United.
The Australian Open had a “Selfie Zone” for them – although obviously the two young ladies above, who were paying no attention to a practicing Caroline Wozniacki as they turned their back to her, paid that no mind.
Hopefully it’s a fading fad, and won’t lead to a “Selfie Stick Rights Group”. No doubt the inventor has already padded his retirement fund by now.
First Price, now Nestor sit with Petey
The CBC’s Peter Mansbridge has been sports dude the last couple of weeks.
First, it was Habs goaltender Carey Price. On Saturday, a long interview with Canadian doubles tennis icon Daniel Nestor (can’t believe they put chairs on that beautiful clay court; Mansbridge’s immaculate white sneakers will never be the same again).
Mansbridge called Nestor the “Wayne Gretzky” of tennis.
Nobody actually looks at stuff any more
Roger Federer, making a touchdown in Istanbul this week, walks up on stage. Cue the phone tidal wave.
They’re all staring at their phones – to make a quick, blurry video they can post on social media to show everyone THEY WERE THERE!!!! Even though they didn’t even see it!
But they missed actually looking at … the Fed. I mean, there’s high-quality video available of this event if they want to remember it. Here’s an Instagram clip showing them holding up their phones!!!
No selfie sticks in sight, though.
Abanda and Shapovalov 2014 Juniors of the Year
This is always a funny award, because it’s nearly May by the time they announce it and, well, the juniors have done a bunch of stuff this year and, really, who even remembers 2014 at this point?
But the selection of Shapovalov and Abanda is, well, revealing.
Abanda was 17 last year, so technically, yes, she was a junior. And technically she’s part of the national training centre program in Montreal even though she’s never at the tournaments the other kids compete in and has her own private coach in Simon Larose.
Also – sum total in 2013 AND 2014, Abanda played … three junior tournaments: the U.S. Open in 2013, and the French and Wimbledon juniors in 2014. It would be a little like giving the “Canadian junior figure-skater of the year” award to a junior-aged skater who was advanced enough that she competed at the seniors level. As in, not too logical.
The junior we’d give the award to, mainly because she was the only junior in the entire country who played at the junior Slam level (other than Abanda) and posted some good results, would be Katherine Sebov.
The boys’ recipient is Denis Shapovalov, an Ontario kid who was born in Israel and who is coached by his Russian mom. Neither Sebov nor Shapovalov is at the national training centre, although obviously they must get some help from Tennis Canada. Sebov, for example, got some coaching help from Marie-Eve Pelletier for a period last year.
When he was at the Australian Open juniors this January, we heard from some people that Shapovalov might be the most talented 15-year-old out there. And he’s got a sweet one-handed backhand, which is a bonus.
The national junior training program has been around for nearly eight years now. We’re talking millions and millions of dollars spent sending these chosen kids everywhere on the planet to play tennis tournaments. So to have these two anointed as your two top juniors – when one of them is long past the juniors and the other isn’t in your program – is not much of a statement of return on investment.
Which is not to take anything away from what these two have done and will continue to do.
Djoker taking a pass on Madrid
The guy’s ahead of the rest of the ATP by miles, and he’s probably thinking he’s got his best shot, maybe ever, at the French Open this year. So Novak Djokovic is taking a pass on Madrid.
Nadal, who is the defending champ and has all those points to defend in advance of Roland Garros (see seeding story above), probably isn’t heartbroken.
Djokovic has passed the 600-match and 12-years-pro requirements to skip a Masters 1000 event without penalties – not that penaltie$ would mean that much to him at this point. Doing the Indian Wells-Miami double will take it out of anyone. And then there’s Monte Carlo, which is a home event for him, with all that entails.
So Roger Federer will be the top seed, Murray No. 2 and Rafael Nadal No. 3.
Bad idea much too soon, No. 5653
Young American Reilly Opelka, often compared to countryman John Isner because of their similar height, has decided to NOT do what Isner did, which is go to college for four years.
Opelka has just turned pro and signed with Lagardère, to be represented by Sam Duvall (who currently represents Canadian Vasek Pospisil and repped Genie Bouchard for years and, as it happens, John Isner).
“I explored every option pretty well, I think,” Opelka said of his decision. “I had college tennis in mind, no doubt. It’s a great option for Americans, they think about college tennis more. It’s such a high level now, it makes the decision tough.That’s a good thing, but it’s a little more stressful. I could play Tommy Paul, Chris Eubanks, Noah Rubin, college tennis is such a high level now, it makes the decision even tougher.”
Opelka, who hasn’t even played tennis for three months because of some injuries, is ranked No. 30 in the juniors, and 1,115 in the pros. To say he’s pretty raw and hasn’t yet grown into his body would be an understatement.
All we have to say is, what’s the rush? He seems to be very well supported by the USTA, so you’d have to think it’s not a decision made out of financial necessity.
His countryman Francis Tiafoe approves.
Opelka turns 18 Aug. 28. His last junior tournament was the Orange Bowl last December, where he lost to the younger Stefan Kozlov in three sets. He played a couple of Futures events in January in Florida, but only one match, ever, above that level – a qualifying match at a Challenger in Napa, Calif. last year, which he lost.
Tiafoe, five months younger, was the No. 2 junior in the world at just 15. He’s already at No. 381 in the ATP Tour rankings and beat some established pros at the Challenger the last two weeks in the U.S.
Other than a couple of Futures events in Mexico last year, Opelka has never even been out of the country – never mind to Europe. Mostly, he has played against Americans. It just seems like a massive leap to discard what college could do for him. Certainly, if he looks at Isner, he can see a role model for how waiting until your ready can pay dividends.
But hey, he didn’t consult Open Court. Good luck to him.