Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Grass Masters (also, welcome to #800!)

Welcome to post #800 on Tennis From The Backseat. Yes, I have been writing (reading: gabbing madly at you) for that long. Thank you for reading as I flail madly around the crazy world of tennis.

So, today's discussion topic is this: a Masters 1000 event on grass. Yea or nay?

I don't know if I have a definitive opinion on this issue. It seems to me like there are pros and cons to both sides of the argument. So let's examine, starting with the pros.

There are three Masters series events on clay, yet none on grass. And yet Wimbledon, the grass court Slam, is pretty much the most important tournament (at least symbolically) of the year. So why no love for grass? Give us a Masters event, clay court hogs.

I definitely see the point of this one. If the grass court season for longer, I think we would definitely see more players like Nicolas Mahut - i.e. grass court specialists. Why is it that when Wimbledon has such epic significance, the grass court season is basically a cursory event? And when you consider that three of the four Slams used to be on grass... what happened there?

It really doesn't seem fair to grass court tennis. Sometimes I feel like there are effectively two tours going on - the normal tour and the clay tour, and grass is just this little month of homage to tennis history thrown in there. It privileges dirtballers and denigrates ...grassballers. Except there aren't really any specialist grassballers. Except Nicolas Mahut.


There is no time between Roland Garros and Wimbledon for a Masters series event.

I hear you. I mean, if you are going to have a Masters event, you've got to have at least one more week between these Slams, yeah? Most players do play one week in this two week fortnight gap, but to make it compulsory is a big ask. And if you do try and add an extra week, who's going to move? I foresee a Roland Garros/Wimbledon bitchfight over this issue.

If someone's going to move, I feel like it has to be Wimbledon, otherwise you have no time at all between Madrid and Roland Garros, and that will not do at all. However, if you are going to put a Masters event on grass, are you going to take that Masters name away from a clay event or a hardcourt one? Clay has three, which seems like a lot, but hard courts have six. And North America has four of them. Why do they need so many?

And also, Wimbledon totally won't move. Not for anyone.

And then there's the thorny question of who you give the Masters crown to. Does it go to Queens or Halle? You can bet that Roger Federer would be mighty pissed off it were Queens, given as he now has a contract to play at Halle forever and a day...

So in short, I don't know. A grass court Masters event sounds awesome in theory but is very complex in practice. What are your thoughts?

(And thanks again for sticking round till post #800!)


Tennis Talk, Anyone? said...

Hey Jodi, happy 800! It's been great reading at least a few hundred of your posts!

As for a grass-court Masters tournament, it must be a matter of economics because the Aegon tournament this week, used to be huge when Stella Artois sponsored it. Now it's a 250 tournament. Granted it was never a 1000-level event, but I think the draw used to be at least 64; now it's half that.

I think the tour must not really be doing as well because look at so many 250-level events that now give first-round byes to the top four seeds instead of filling those empty spots in the draw. Smaller draws must be a result of something.

forehandshanker said...

If some of us were the Enlightened Monarch for Tennis (i.e. grand poobah of the ITF, WTA and ATP), a Grass Courts Master can happen if RG & Wimbly were two weeks further apart. And to make it less onerous for all concerned, you could make it optional like Monte Carlo. Sadly, it won't happen because of all the stakeholders this would offend.

BTW, Brad Gilbert thinks it's a great idea (