Being ATP men’s tennis CEO Etienne de Villiers can’t be too great right now with bloggers (like me), fans, message boarders and Marat and Lleyton hammering away at him for his round-robin experiment-gone-wrong disaster in Las Vegas. Now World No. 1 Roger Federer has got into the act firing his own blast at ET and the format.
Following his 41st consecutive win and another Dubai title, Fed had this to say on the issue (courtesy of Barry Wood at Reuters via the Guardian):
“Everybody knows I was against it (the round robin system) in the first place. It’s actually very disappointing to see things like this had to happen first before you realise that the system is not going to work. … Nothing against Etienne de Villiers, he’s trying his best, but all I hope is he doesn’t change the integrity of the game… I’ve always said you have to keep tennis the way it is and not try to change and mix it up and try too many things at the same time. He’s burned his hands on that, that’s for sure, and I doubt it’s going to happen next year, the round robin system. … It’s going to be interesting to see their (the ATP’s) reaction now because they’re definitely under pressure. I think it’s a bad situation that happened.”
And just days before the Blake-Korolev incident took place, as if Fed saw this coming, here’s what he said during a Monday conference call when asked about the round-robin:
“Well, you know, I remember having a meeting exactly one year ago. We were asked what we thought about it. I thought it actually kind of makes sense, the tournament gets to see the stars twice and everything. I was kind of in favor a little bit of thinking, you know, trying it out really. Then the more I thought about it, the more I saw of it, I was actually not so for it because I’m the classical guy who always thinks the past was great, the knock-out system in tennis is fantastic, you have one bad day you’re out, you have no chance of coming back. We see it now sometimes, if a guy gets injured, he pulls out, he doesn’t allow the other guy to come through who actually would have a chance and stuff. To me it seems like it’s not the right approach for tennis and I hope it’s not going to happen next year.”
So that’s one big “I TOLD YOU SO” from Fed right at ET, and clearly Roger is ticked off a bit at what’s happened. And Fed’s right, it will be interesting to see what see what comes of this.
Will the ATP get rid of the round-robin? Most likely.
Will ET have lost some support with his players? Probably.
Will this come up again at Indian Wells? You bet.
Does ET need to start reading the ATP rulebook? Yes.
Will he? Probably not.
Will ET now listen more to players like Roger Federer and others when they offer advice? Let’s hope.
If nothing else, tennis can now say that it has its own version of March Madness. And we have only ET to thank for it.
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