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Guest Blog

Update on Indoor events, US Open Schedule and UK Taxation of International Sponsorships

Opportunity for a US Grass event pre-Wimbledon?


October 21, 2011 | 07:35 PM

Monfils, Tipsarevic advance in Stockholm, Moscow

Monfils will take on Raonic for the first time in the semis of Stockholm after his 7-5, 7-5 win over Kevin Anderson. Milos advanced with a 5 and 4 win over Dmitrov, losing only 10 points on serve. He improved his record indoors to 11-1 this year (his only loss in the final at Memphis to Roddick). The Canadian's indoor record - though short - is 2nd among active players after Federer, who ranks 6th on the all time list of indoor greats led by McEnroe. Raonic has the kind of first strike, aggressive game that favors him indoors, though Monfils is a very respectable #7 among current players indoors.

In the other half, James Blake benefited from a walkover when Nalbandian withdrew in the quarters. His opponent will be Finn Jarko Nieminen, with whom Blake holds a 6-1 life time advantage. With Blake's ability to create aggressive shots from defensive positions and his first strike mentality, he's a clear favorite to reach his first final since Queens in '09. Stockholm would be his 6th indoor final in 25, and his first one in 5 years.

In Moscow, the 2 and 3 Serbs have invaded the semis, with Tipsarevic to face Davydenko and Troicki to play Chardy. Troicki had to survive 3 tie-breakerswith American Alex Bogomolov.

US Open Schedule Update

News of the ATP player meeting in Shanghai was thin because it never materialized, but what did appear after the complaints vaporized was a statement published yesterday by the USTA that serious consideration was being given to moving the men's final to Monday, pending a television deal that might keep CBS in the mix. This could be a win-win, with the USTA the big winner, of course. Andy Murray and others will no doubt expect a raise for the men since a couple of lucky ones would have to hang around NY another whole day.

UK Taxation of International Player Sponsorships

If this were England, Andy would be making a more legitimate-sounding case since the UK has taxed all players' international sponsorships on a pro rata basis for their days at tournaments there. This complaint, which transcends tennis, of course. In England, Rafa's announcement last week that he would not be playing The Aegon Championship at Queens because he would lose money was a feature story in the sports pages (anything to do with tennis in England is considered important enough for front page sports coverage). Were the UK coffers not in such terrible need of silver, Parliament stated they might be influenced to change the policy. Until they do, they'll have to accept that the top players will play their Wimbledon tune-ups in the Euro zone.

Does the tax policy in the UK create an opportunity for Newport or another US location to offer an event pre-Wimbledon?

YES. While a US event would not get the top ranked players coming off the final week in Paris, top US players could cut short their time in England by playing an event on grass here were one offered, and would also benefit from avoiding the UK's aggressive taxation policies. Sure, they might improve their UK winnings by playing events which are minus the top players, but those winnings would be heavily taxed as well. The 500 points available at Queens for the winner are the real temptation for the Isner's and Fish.

Newport is the logical venue to try to host a US grass event pre-Wimbledon as they already host a minor tournament which could benefit from a date change. Of course ATP approval for a date change might be unlikely, and Newport's directors are too interconnected to the tennis power structure to buck the ATP and ITF and go rogue with an event. Other non-ATP events before majors exist (The Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia, is the only official ITF Cup event other than the Davis and Fed Cups). Other mixed team events are not part of either the ATP, WTA or ITF calendars. If Newport did give up their post-Wimbledon spot and move the Hall of Fame ceremony to the middle of June to coincide with an event, they couldn't possibly draw any weaker field than they've had in the last decades, when in some years the average ranking of the player field has trailed all other ATP events and not even equaled the average in some Challenger events.

Short of Newport moving their primary date before Wimbledon, there are a host of other event-less grass court clubs in the eastern US which have a long, rich history of hosting successful events in the 20th century, none more than The Longwood Cricket Club. Longwood hasn't hosted a professional event since the US Pro and the 1999 Davis Cup tie between the USA and Australia, and the club removed it's stadium and hard courts to make room for 6 additional clay courts. Membership opinion is mixed on the topic of hosting professional events, although the facility offers 25 of the finest grass courts anywhere, and retains a world-class grounds crew and a head groundsman who is in demand as a speaker at worldwide turf events.

Nothing will happen in the eastern US without the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that's been missing since the 70's when Bill Riordan piloted a rogue professional tour for profit.

Rick

Stockholm and Moscow Opens


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