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View Full Version : Remastered: Can the Masters be improved?


Colin
03-01-2012, 06:24 PM
In the past year or so, we've been hearing increasing grumbling about the schedule and requirements for top players. The ATP tweaked some of the lower-level requirements to offer more flexibility as far as what counts in your ranking. (Instead of a certain number of required 250 and 500 tournaments, it's more of a "best of the rest" catch-all with those tournaments, Olympics and Davis Cup play, at least from what I've gleaned from posts here).

No (right-minded) tennis fan would tinker too much with the Grand Slams. That leaves the Masters as the most obvious place for change. My first question to you: Does it need to be changed? I think it's pretty much fine the way it is. The only thing glaring is Monte Carlo, which is worth the same as the other Masters but not required, like some odd middle ground. I say make it a mandatory Masters tournament like the others or demote it to a 500. I don't put too much weight into the complaints about the schedule, but I'd be open to fixes if there were ways to improve the series. The top pros would have more flexibility with their schedules, but I'd get something in return as a fan.

Here are a few things I would like to see:
1. Grass courts represented (Wimbledon is arguably the most prestigious tournament, but the next level on grass is a lowly 250).
2. More top players in doubles. Right now, they tend to only play doubles at Indian Wells because of its length. I think it would bring more interest to the doubles and also open the door to some interesting pairings (maybe Roger and Rafa will finally team up against Novak and Andy).
3. More entertainment and personality. One of my favorite things in the past couple of years was that charity exhibition for Haiti (?) at the Australian Open with fun team pairings and mikes on the court. You get to see another side of your favorite player.
4. Different names in finals. Loosen the big 4's grip by offering opportunities for them to take a break from singles. Let's see a Tsonga, Del Potro or Ferrer in some of these finals.

So, with those in mind, here's what I'd do.

1. Offer 10 Masters tournaments, but players could play only half if they met all the exemptions.
2. There would be five pairs of Master's that are back-to-back and spread throughout the year, with the idea being they go from slow early in the year to fast later in the year (similar to what we have now). Players would be required to play in at least one of the pairs; this way someone who was clay-averse couldn't choose to skip out on those two tournaments without some penalty, for example.
--Early spring: Slow hard courts. Indian Wells and Miami stay the same
--Late spring: Clay. Rome and Madrid. Monte Carlo becomes a 500 tournament.
--Early summer: Grass. Spreading out the grass season a bit, Queens and Halle become masters, and perhaps they add another 250 or 500 in there, too.
--Late summer: Fast hard courts. Canada and Cinci. Keep these hard courts faster than Miami/IW.
--Fall: Fast indoor courts. Paris and Shanghai. Create a court similar to Paris in Shanghai or somewhere else on the Asian swing.
3. Players could bow out of one of each of these pairings. They could decide to play them all for esteem and points; but if they do, they have no right to complain about schedule. Here are the five exemptions they could use:
--One get-out-of-jail-free card. Skip whatever you like.
--Play one tournament in doubles instead of singles. Much less stressful, but it has the benefits of bringing attention to doubles, offering interesting pairing potential, allowing players a chance to hone net skills they rarely practice and giving tournaments another selling point.
--Play one tournament in an exhibition match. Again, it's low-stress and gives the tournaments a chance to sell tickets for big names. Maybe half the proceeds go to players' charities. The idea would be each tournament would have a big opening night before play starts the next day showcasing those of the top 32 who chose to take part. A great way to show off tennis personalities. Maybe they get one of the players to offer commentary in the booth and allow another to be the umpire.
--Play one tournament in mixed doubles (when available). Top 10 players could choose to do a second exhibition to offer star power to the tournaments.
--Earned exemption. Similar to what they have now, but only allowing one exemption a year for any of these: 10 years on tour; 500 matches played; 30 years of age; or 50 match wins the previous year.

BONUS: World Tour Finals. Make it a two-week event. The real Super Bowl of tennis, with extra money and points (2,500 to make it the single greatest prize). Expand the pool to 16. Everyone who wins a major or Masters would be invited, then the rest of the pool would be decided by ranking. Could add some needed year-end drama and excitement.


How would you change the Masters, if at all?

Tammo
03-01-2012, 06:42 PM
I would change them all to clay, it would make the world a better place.

FEDERERNADAL13
03-01-2012, 07:46 PM
I like your idea Colin!

More grass tourneys would be great!

The only thing that I would change: Make 7-8 masters mandatory, instead of just 5.

Btw, I like the Superbowl of tennis idea, I just think it can't be worth more than a slam. Maybe equal, but more is too Fed-friendly (no matter how much I'd love to see Fed get more there ;) )

Towser83
03-01-2012, 10:04 PM
Interesting ideas, grass masters would be great, if I was changing things though, Madrid would be the 500 not MC. Not sure how well this could all fit into a season, not too much has been changed but Queens/Halle would need to be shifted so they could be back to back. Not sure about the WTF being worth more than a slam either.

I'd also say WTF has to have best of 5 final and maybe best of 5 semi if you wanted it to be worth 2500 points. Normal masters finals going back to best of 5 would be good too if you only had to play half.

The only thing is you'd have to prepare for seeing half the top players playing one event and the others player the other event. Like let's say Djokovic and Federer playing Madrid, Nadal and Murray playing Rome. So less big name finals maybe.

ZeroSkid
03-01-2012, 11:02 PM
I think we need more clay and grass, and maybe a new surface that is as fast as hard but not as harsh on the body

Sentinel
03-01-2012, 11:46 PM
Interesting ideas, grass masters would be great, if I was changing things though, Madrid would be the 500 not MC. Not sure how well this could all fit into a season, not too much has been changed but Queens/Halle would need to be shifted so they could be back to back. Not sure about the WTF being worth more than a slam either.

I'd also say WTF has to have best of 5 final and maybe best of 5 semi if you wanted it to be worth 2500 points. Normal masters finals going back to best of 5 would be good too if you only had to play half.

The only thing is you'd have to prepare for seeing half the top players playing one event and the others player the other event. Like let's say Djokovic and Federer playing Madrid, Nadal and Murray playing Rome. So less big name finals maybe.
Please stop touting best of five finals. The current schedule is already too taxing on Rafa's body. Do you want to kill him outright ?

I remember the Bo5 final some years back, Fred vs Ferrer, crashing bore it was.

We should ask Rafael to schedule out the entire season. Since he has the backing of most players, anyway.

Colin
03-02-2012, 12:55 AM
Please stop touting best of five finals. The current schedule is already too taxing on Rafa's body. Do you want to kill him outright ?

I remember the Bo5 final some years back, Fred vs Ferrer, crashing bore it was..

Hmmm, now that you mention it, what about a 10-set French Open final this year? :twisted:

I'm conflicted on the five-set finals with Masters and WTF. On one hand, it provided some intriguing epics in the past, such as Fed-Nadal at Rome or Fed-Nalby at WTF. But then you have those boring 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 wins, like the one you mentioned.

It might be kind of crazy (and hard to figure out a fair way to institute it), but what about weighted sets for all finals outside the Slams? That way, if you have sets going to a tiebreak and it's a real contest, it continues to a best of 5, but it's a blowout, it ends after three. That would be extra incentive for players to win the sets convincingly or keep it close.

Sentinel
03-02-2012, 08:58 PM
Hmmm, now that you mention it, what about a 10-set French Open final this year? :twisted:

I'm conflicted on the five-set finals with Masters and WTF. On one hand, it provided some intriguing epics in the past, such as Fed-Nadal at Rome or Fed-Nalby at WTF. But then you have those boring 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 wins, like the one you mentioned.

It might be kind of crazy (and hard to figure out a fair way to institute it), but what about weighted sets for all finals outside the Slams? That way, if you have sets going to a tiebreak and it's a real contest, it continues to a best of 5, but it's a blowout, it ends after three. That would be extra incentive for players to win the sets convincingly or keep it close.
I've often thought of that. Two one sided sets and its over. But the tiebreak thing is dicey. Big servers like Ivo would be going to 5, but if you get broke once then you are done.

6-3 can be pretty close too. Say break points both ways but one guy DF'ed.

Nevertheless, we have to find a way to keep Rafa fresh throughout the year.