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Guest Blog

Players Playing Politicos in men's, women's game

Are the Andy's up to the task?


September 26, 2011 | 08:59 PM

Shanghai - site of a planned player meeting to discuss forming a union - will now have to get along without Federer as well as Joker. At 30 years old, after a frantic trip half way around the world from Flushing to Australia for three rubbers in a Davis Cup tie, Roger took action on his own scheduling concerns, announcing that he won't be flying half way round the world to Asia again next month. Like Joker, he cites the need for rest to be ready for the Masters in London. The Swiss star also wishes time off with his family. Maybe #3 is planning a 3rd with Mirka and needs to attend to a couple of cycles at home. Every modern family needs a boy...

Left holding the political strings as leaders: the two Andy's, with a heavyweight assist from a no-nonsense Rafa. All three are talking like earnest adults, serious about addressing the health issues facing the pros due to lack of coordination in the overall tour schedule between the ATP and the ITF. They say their main goal is to work toward a voice for the players, but both Andy's seem to know that making it about the Money - getting more than 13% of the tournament prize money pie for all players - will be the key to them being more successful at winning this campaign than they've been at winning a major.

The ATP and the ITF might be wise to start doing some serious talking about coordinating schedule decisions for the best interests of the game. Otherwise they may find themselves dealing with a boycott or even a union. They don't want to see tennis players start having single pay days like other star athletes (yesterday's Fed Ex golf title winner Bill Haas won more prize money yesterday for a single title than Joker has won the entire year: $11.5 million). Besides Joker, only three players (Rafa, Roger and Andy) have won more than $2M this year, and they all make a lot relative to the others: below #10, there are few millionaires from prize money, few guarantees for appearance, and small sponsorship dollars. And when they're done, they're done: their bank accounts can be as tired as their bodies.

The only WTA player with any political agenda seems to be 24 year old Anna Chakvetadze, who's been named a candidate by Russia's minority Right Cause party for a seat in the Duma (their platform: capitalism). The role shouldn't keep her from the tour, though it may be more dangerous work than she's used to.

In other WTA news, Kim Clijsters (still recovering from the ankle injury that kept her out of action since Paris) has announced she won't be returning to the game until January. No longer in the top 8, she would not qualify for the tour's first ever year-end event, the $4.9 Million TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, Oct 25 in Istanbul.

Rick

ATP, WTA player news


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