Federer Wins Dubai, Then Rips the Round Robin Format
by Sean Randall | March 3rd, 2007, 4:22 pm

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. ADHEREL

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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12 Comments for Federer Wins Dubai, Then Rips the Round Robin Format

DI Says:

When you say this will come up again at Indian Wells, do you mean talk of the round robin system or the situation itself? I was under the impression that Indian Wells would not be using the round robin format.

Skorocel Says:

DI, Indian Wells doesn’t have the RR format. The author of this article only meant that there will be a lot of discussing re: the RR in Indian Wells – and frankly, I’m not wondering…

edward Says:

yes, my impression of “come up again at Indian Wells” is whether the controversy from the las vegas tournament will follow the tour in indian wells (i.e. issues concerning that won’t dissipate, but might even eclipse the match results in indian wells). such might be possible when journalists will keep on asking players (both men and women) about their opinions in such a high-profile tournament…

Oooo... scaary! Says:

Full marks to you for pointing out the eerie prognostication from Federer. How often do we see that?

Still… Blake got ripped off by E deV. He was made to look like a fool in front of everyone. Poor guy doesn’t deserve it. Cheers to Korolev though. Props to Safin too.

Talking about Safin, I hope someone in the ATP took notice of the wet-court incident in Safin’s match against Roddick. I mean there was little consideration for player injury-risk. It was like they would rather see Safin get injured than spend 5 minutes drying up the court wetness! It was just incredible, their pigheadedness!

Oooo... scaary! Says:

I’m talking about the Australian Open match of Safin Vs. Roddick.

Mike Anthony Says:

I dont think Federer was predicting EXACTLY the Blake scenario.. he was likely talking about players who currently win a match injured and knowingly go to the next round only to withdraw. Thats more a financial motivation there though.

tash Says:

what happened to safin at the aussie open sucked. he was right to argue that the wet patch was unsafe to play on…u bet your house that had it been roddick, he too would have protested. im sort of dissapointed that no one saw safins point during the match. the guy has had half his career gone through injry and the ATP and its officials lack of concern was DISGUSTING. i hope not just the blake/RR issue gets dicussed at the Player meeting at Miami but also the ATP imcompetence to do stuff using logic.

sensationalsafin Says:

it really makes you wonder when shit like this happens. i mean is Etienne de Villiers an idiot or something? i think it sucks what happened with blake but imo it became controversial when EdV decided to let blake advance only to reverse the decision later. i also think it’s ridiculous how many players are always retiring. the ATP needs to make some restrictions on that. like if you finish one set you can’t retire or something. there were three tournaments this week and someone retired in just about every round. if you can’t handle the work then don’t be a professional. or make it so that a player can only retire during a match so many times in a year or withdraw a limited amount of times. and if you don’t want to see players retire then fix the schedule and don’t make them play even more matches with the round robin. how the hell does the rr format help players rest more? it only increases their match play. wtf is the ATP thinking? the rr belongs at the masters cup and the masters cup only. its simple with just 8 players. but when u have 3 players per box so where u have each player with one victory, things get complicated.

John Says:

IMO, the basic problem with the RR format is with the fans. They sometimes need a computer to figure out who wins.

For example, the fans watching the second Blake match couldn’t just root for a Blake win, they needed to root for a specific “sets won” percentage, a “games won” percentage and/or his opponent “not to retire”.

The knock-out system is simple. It’s just a win or a loss. It’s easy on the fans.

Disclaimer: Yes I know that the Blake match had a limited audience. There were not many fans in attendance. And I also know that many tennis fans don’t get the Tennis Channel.

John Says:

Maybe ET reversed his reversal because he discovered that Korolev was Anna Kournikova’s cousin.

John Says:

There was another TC Open RR problem:

In Hewitt’s group:
Hewitt vs Spadea
Johansson vs Spadea
Hewitt vs Johansson

Hewitt def Spadea
Spadea withdraws and is replaced by Lu
Johansson vs Lu (dead match)
Hewitt plays Johansson for group win

This is similar, but different, to Buenos Aires RR:
Juan Carlos Ferrero’s group:
Lapenti vs Devilder
Devilder vs Ferrero
Ferrero vs Lapenti

Lapenti def Devilder
Devilder def Ferrero
Lapenti withdraws, replaced by Dlouhy, Devilder wins
Ferrero vs Dlouhy (dead match)

John Says:


Indian Wells TV Coverage

The Tennis Channel

Date Start Time (PST) Notes Detail
Sat, March 10 10:00am – 9:00pm Live Early Round Coverage
Sat, March 11 9:00pm – 8:00am Repeat Early Round Coverage
Sun, March 11 11:00am – 10:30pm Live Early Round Coverage
Mon, March 12 10:30pm – 10:00am Repeat Early Round Coverage
Mon, March 12 11:00am – 10:30pm Live Early Round Coverage
Tue, March 13 10:30pm – 10:00am Repeat Early Round Coverage
Tue, March 13 1:00pm – 5:00pm Live Early Round Coverage
Tue, March 13 9:00pm – 11:00pm Live Early Round Coverage
Wed, March 14 3:00am – 7:00am Repeat Early Round Coverage
Wed, March 14 7:00am – 9:00am Repeat Early Round Coverage


Date Start Time (PST) Notes Detail
Wed, March 14 11:00am – 3:00pm Live Early Round Coverage
Wed, March 14 6:00pm – 8:00pm Live Early Round Coverage
Thu, March 15 11:00pm – 1:00am Delay Early Round Coverage
Thu, March 15 11:00am – 3:00pm Live Rd of 16 or Qtrs
Thu, March 15 7:00pm – 9:00pm Live Rd of 16 or Qtrs
Fri, March 16 11:00pm – 1:00am Delay Rd of 16 or Qtrs
Fri, March 16 11:00am – 3:00pm Live Men’s Quaterfinal Women’s Semifinal
Fri, March 16 7:00pm – 9:00pm Live Men’s Quarterfinal
Sat, March 17 12:00pm – 4:00pm Live Men’s Semifinal Women’s Final
Sun, March 18 12:30am – 2:30am Delay Men’s Semifinal
Sun, March 18 12:00pm – 2pm Live Men’s Final

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