The WTA just can’t seem to get it right with their year-end scheduling. They know it is awkward and yet they don’t get it fixed. Why would you have your season-ending championship as the second last event on your calendar and place a sanctioned second string year-end tournament after that?
Senior people at the WTA have even questioned that. It just seems screwed up. And you got to wonder why this second string event is called the “Elite Trophy”. Aren’t the eight women in Singapore where the full blown event is played, the elite ones?
The ATP has introduced a new tournament this year called the NextGen Finals which will be played in Milan the week before the ATP Finals in London. The NextGen Finals is for those players 21 and under who have been exceptional. Whether they play or not is a different matter but payers like Alexander Zverev, Frances Tiafoe, Karen Khachanov, etc are among those in the line-up.
It is a very good opportunity for them but the sensible scheduling is that it is not after the tour’s crown jewel, the ATP Finals. Just like that cliché, they have saved the best for last.
On the women’s tour the Elite Trophy comes across as being for those who missed out on Singapore. Is that not rewarding those players who did not quite make it and why should that be the case? There is one exception to the Elite Trophy field and that has to be Sloane Stephen the US Open champion.
How Stephens is in the second string finals and not included in the main finals leaves one scratching their head. To not have all the winners of the majors which are the be all and end all of tennis, in the field is ridiculous.
Not for one minute am I suggesting the other tournaments do not matter, most definitely they do otherwise why bother playing them but to not have the champion from one of the cornerstones of tennis in the field is poor. It looks bad.
In a recent New York Times article written by Chris Clarey, Chris Evert was clear that the points ratio in women’s tennis is not right. Maybe that’s why this year they have had more No.1’s than a fleet of London buses. And adding to that seven of the eight players in Singapore could end up No.1. Seriously, who can relate to that?
“I know that mandatories (highest women’s WTA tournaments) are loaded with the top players and they are important, but for me a Grand Slam should be worth three of those,” Evert said. “There’s much more at stake. A Grand Slam should be at least 3,000 points.”
She is absolutely right with what she says. The WTA does not want to devalue their own tournaments but they must realise that no event on the WTA tour is ever going to be as important or as big as any of the four majors and it would be advisable if they did more to further embrace those events.
A situation that sees the champion at a major not part of the year-end championships should not be allowed to continue. It diminishes the prestige of the event and the practice needs to be questioned.
I can only imagine what Serena Williams’ response would have been if she had been in the Sloane Stephens situation. She would not likely show up for a second level event.