The ITF (International Tennis Federation) and the men’s and women’s tours have always had a push-pull relationship since the organization that runs the Slams, Fed Cup and Olympics (but not the regular tours) has lost a bit of power over the years.
But now the ITF is really on the WTA shit list after demanding that WTA players participate in four ties every four years, instead of the previous two ties, to qualify for Olympic participation.
The result? Now the WTA is scheduling tour events during the weeks of Fed Cup play, hence this week’s WTA BMW Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur.
This during the coming weekend of Fed Cup World Group semifinals — Italy at the Czech Republic and Germany at Australia — and the World Group Playoff match-ups of Argentina at Russia, Slovak Republic at Canada, France at USA, and Poland at Spain.
When the French knock the U.S. out of the World Group this weekend behind French stars Alize Cornet and Caroline Garcia, both who won WTA titles this past week, the question will come up, “Where were the Williams sisters?” Answer: Serena says she has been playing too much and needs a vacation, while Venus was going to take a chunk of guarantee money to play the WTA event in Kuala Lumpur instead. She ended up pulling out of that this week with strep throat.
Dominika Cibulkova is the top seed in Kuala Lumpur, and the Slovak tennis federation is none too happy that she won’t be helping in the effort to keep the Slovak Republic in the World Group for 2015 when facing Canada this weekend.
Cibulkova is a Top 10 player get for the tournament, but the seeding takes a steep dive from there, ending with No. 8 seed Ayumi Morita, ranked No. 112. Other seeds are Zhang Shuai, Karolina Pliskova, Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, Kimiko Date-Krumm, Zarina Diyas, and Donna Vekic.
That’s less a WTA event and more like a thrown-together f-you to the ITF.
Venus Williams pulled from the event but is reportedly still making the trip to Kuala Lumpur to fulfill sponsor obligations and speak at a women’s event, while recovering what she termed a “severe strep throat infection.”
The Fed Cup has to be feeling a little ill also. While it remains the largest international women’s sports competition, its relevance shrinks even further ironically due to the Women’s Tennis Association.
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