Tuesday, October 25, 2016

This week with TWA: Serena, Rafa and Sveta on fumes

Last week, the other shoe fell for Rafa Nadal. I guess we all knew there would be consequences from his decision to make an Olympic run, which turned out to be incredible for fans and Spain. Now he's shutting his season down due to injury. Again. I hate to be that guy -- the one who's ready to set the retirement clock for Rafa. But when was the last time he was able to complete a season without missing at least one major? Although it was nice to see the opening of his new academy in Spain last week, attended by the biggest rival of his career -- the Fed. But ... is that some sort of sign? That he's trying to move on? He doesn't have permission to move on! No one approved this! OK, deep breathing. *clicking my heels* Rafa will come back. Rafa will come back. Rafa will come back ...
*clicking faster*
I'm not as worried about Serena Williams, who also pulled her own card on the season last week. That means she won't be around for the year-end championships, which led to some things happening that we'll get to in a second. Chris Evert gave her annual obit on Serena's career this weekend, citing her broken-down body and the aura of invincibility being gone. I can't imagine that's true. Evert has more access to players, so it's hard to dispute, but really? Players no longer fear Serena? Hm. I don't dispute the injury build-up -- that would actually be impossible. It seems that Serena's problem lately is more in the head, though. And some time off might straighten out those issues as well as the shoulder. We've just been here too often with her -- thinking she's gonna call it a day, that she's not interested anymore, blah blah blah. Then she busts out four majors and we shove the obit back to Evert for revisions. Rinse, repeat.
Which brings us to the WTA Tour finals in Singapore. (OK, that didn't bring us here, but this is where I want to go next, so ...) The field of eight singles players included Johanna Konta ... until the day before matches started. Svetlana Kuznetsova was able to qualify by winning in Moscow at the 25th hour. Now I've got no issue with Sveta, but more with the WTA on this one. I hate to keep dumping on the WTA on account of the lecture a couple weeks about the CEO who is under the belief that the best way to draw tennis fans is to have players play as little tennis as possible. So I will keep this rant short. What's hard about setting a cutoff date date for qualifying for the tour finals? I guess I had assumed there was such a thing, and yes, I know what happens when you assume. But now I also know what happens when you can qualify for the finals until the day before the thing starts. A complete mess. I figured that with Sveta on fumes, Konta might get her shot on court anyway, but that appears to be quite inaccurate, considering that she's already beaten Agz Radwanska.
This is the part in therapy when the counselor would say: "Now, say something nice about the WTA." OK. Despite the absence of anyone except one person in the singles draw who has won a Slam this year, it is an impressive lineup and at least the matches will be competitive. Exhibit A: Angelique Kerber v. Dominica Cibulkova. The tennis so far has really been high quality. It'll get a complete wrap-up in next week's post.

Quick hits:
Juan Martin del Potro won a tournament, everybody! With his win at the Stockholm Open, he's back into the top 50, where no one will be happy to see him, especially if they like winning. Jack Sock had a good tournament, too, but he was left flailing after half of del Potro's groundstrokes.
Maria Sharapova has been removed from the WTA rankings because of her drug ban, which has been upheld but shortened. Just until she returns next April and has played three tournaments. No matter. I'd imagine she'll enroll at MIT next to whittle away the time.

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