Tennis Notes: WTA Power Index, Federer vs Bryan Brothers
by Richard Vach | August 6th, 2007, 3:42 pm

POWER CONTEST: Does anyone besides me enjoy watching women’s pro matches where players know how to slice, volley, dropshot, change the pace up on opponents and construct a point, rather than just whaling away from the baseline hoping to hit the first winner? Shouldn’t the tour be celebrating players who can hit every shot such as Justine Henin and Amelie Mauresmo? Instead on Monday the WTA Tour announced a “innovative new statistic,” the “Power Index.” “The top women’s tennis players in the world are more powerful than ever,” says the WTA media release. “Now, there’s a way to measure it.” The Power Index for a player is arrived at by averaging a player’s fastest shots during a match: first and second serves, groundstroke (forehand or backhand), first and second-serve returns, and smash/volley. “We’re excited about the introduction of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Power Index and think it’s another great way to recognize the extraordinary talent, athleticism and sheer power of our top players,” said Stacy Allaster, President of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. I’m not excited about it — just the opposite. I’d rather we celebrate all-around players, not just those who can only hit topspin forehands and backhands as hard as they can, because those are the only shots in their arsenal. The Power Index debuted in San Diego last week where the top ball-bludgeoner was Venus Williams, who didn’t win the event. I’m all for new innovations, but this is like the NFL recognizing which quarterback throws the hardest instead of who completes the most passes. Who cares?

MURRAY DOWNTURN: Andy Murray’s brother Jamie rose to popularity as part of the “Stretch and Booty” team with American Eric Butorac, then shockingly dumped Butorac. The move was reminiscent of older brother Andy dumping Mark Petchey when he felt he could climb higher with a better support team. The Murray-Butorac team emerged, from total obscurity, to win three titles earlier this year, apparently not good enough for the “striving” Murray. “True champions make these decisions when they are at the top of the game rather than the bottom,” said Jamie Murray’s agent Patricio Apey. “They’ve had some good open discussions and decided it was best to go on without each other. They have learned a lot together but it is time to move on. It is in the Murray genes to always strive for the best.” Murray made his first post-Butorac appearance this week, striving to reach the second round at the Masters Series-Canada with James Blake, but losing in their opener against Fernando Gonzalez and Ivan Ljubicic. Don’t rule out a Stretch and Booty reunion, ala Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor, as sometimes players don’t realize until late that it’s sometimes more about the team chemistry and not all about you.

NO. 1 SINGLES vs. NO. 1 DOUBLES: The Bryan brothers are hoping Roger Federer and his Swiss partner Yves Allegro win their first-round match this week at the Masters Series-Canada so they can seek some revenge on the Swiss No. 1 in a “rivalry” that hasn’t been revived in five years. The Bryans, the world No. 1 doubles team who receive a first-round bye in Montreal, are 2-2 career against Federer. The Bryans beat him in their first two meetings in 2001 at Rome (where the Swiss partnered Alex O’Brien) and Hamburg (w/Jonas Bjorkman), but then the following year the Bryans lost their two most recent encounters at 2002 Rome (where Federer paired with Tim Henman) and Indian Wells (w/Max Mirnyi). The match will revive the age-old argument as to whether any top singles player or singles pair (his Swiss partner Allegro is a doubles specialist) is a dominant-enough player to beat a team of top doubles specialists.

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8 Comments for Tennis Notes: WTA Power Index, Federer vs Bryan Brothers

John (1) Says:

I agree with you about the “power index”. But I’m not surprised by this new innovation. This just follows a long line of changes that are bad for the game but will be championed by media types saying that it’s another great thing.

Past innovations:

1) The “doubles revolution” makes me nauseous. The “deciding point” is awful. It’s not tennis anymore.

2) While the “challenge” system could have been good for tennis, it’s been made unusable by the implementation. I think the players are catching on and avoid using except for the big points which are often correct calls but the players are wishing that the call will go their way.

3) “On court coaching” is used by a few players but most avoid it because it ruins the game.

Darryl Thompson Says:

I disagree and think the power index will be another interesting fact/attribute to record and discuss with regards to the elite players. Also, for the record let us add the total number of slam titles for any two wta players versus the Williams Sister and of course the winner will be the Williams Sisters. So, will pretty tennis may appeal to the snobbish, power (American) tennis brings home the gold!

zeg Says:

Agree with the “power contest” point.
American tennis establishment is woefully out of touch with reality. The “savvy businessmen” invited to run tennis affairs are clueless about the game itself, trying to turn it into another version of “American Gladiators” – the sequel: The Battling Babes. Some “marketing genius” also decided that “we can increase the viewership in our demographic” by “miking” coaches and allowing them to consult the players between the sets – sort of like in boxing matches. Then, let’s allow them to scream at the top of their lungs while hitting the ball, and we can get the NFL and MLS crowd to watch it. After all, it is all about an immediate ratings impact, and the disgusted true tennis fans will watch anyway, while holding their noses.
The pinnacle of ignorance is the incessant touting of the “thirty million dollars on the line” in the idiotic “traveling circus” commercial for the U.S. Open Series. Do they really think ANYONE in the world gives a hoot about how much more money these millionaires are going to make? And all that cartoonish hype is going to compell me to watch a tape-delayed match on the ESPN’s busy TV screen at midnight?

Joe O brien Says:

I agree that womens tennis is much better without all power play.Its boring to watch players like Sharapova just smack the ball around. I would much rather watch Henin, Mauresmo and Schnyder play, who can play all the shots with great style and variety. I am not a fan of the big hitters and certainly not the “power index” idea.
And as for Murray not playing with Butorac anymore, em, what can i say, I guess the wimbledon mixed title has gone to his head. What a stupid decision to make after winning 3 titles already this year and putting up a good first showing at wimbledon. I mean, who does he plan to play with now? Hes going to watch his ranking go nowhere if he doesnt get his act together.Maybe it was his over demanding mother Judy??

Liss Says:

I’m not sure how I feel about the “power tennis” concept. I think the contest is more an attempt to play into the girl power movement. And, if that is the case, it may be successful. The best PR the WTA has ever had was the Pink/”anything you can do I can do better campaign”. And the more they do to promote women’s tennis, especially to little girls, the better it is for the sport.

Reese Says:

The woman’s game is definitely evolving into more of a circus than tennis. The number of rule changes that are basically publicity stunts is becoming outrageous, first the on-court coaching and now this? I realize they need to try and generate more interest in the women’s game, but they shouldn’t compromise the actual sport in order to implement poorly thought out rule changes (that nobody but the establishment wants).

On “Murray:” I’m sorry, was winning three tournaments out of nowhere not good enough for you?

On “Bryans vs. The Fed:” I don’t know who’s going to win that match, but I definitely want to watch it!

allcourt Says:

The mistake that the writer is making is assuming that the power players have power only in their arsenal. For more than half of the time that they are playing, even the most powerful of the Big Babes are doing much more interesting things than hitting hard. The fact that these things are not as easy to measure as speed etc is not a problem for me.

If sportswrtiters choose not to focus on the variety in almost all of the women’s games, we can’t blame the powers that be for playing up those aspects of the game that seem to fascinate the casual fans. Consider the homerun race in baseball. Is anyone suggesting that baseball isALL about homeruns just because of the circus over the homerun record? Or knockouts in boxing? Or sacks in football?

Paula Says:

honestly i don’t think the players will care enough about the power index for it to actually mean anything. it’ll just be a useless stat that we hear about every so often. everyone knows that the wta’s marketing plan is all about shoving the “attractive” girls with “star power” down your throat whenever possible, it just so happens that these same new faces of tennis are also often the ones with one dimensional games that are all about smacking the ball from the back of the court. so really this makes no difference, thumbs up to the wta on being so “innovative”

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