COMBINED EVENTS – ARE THEY DESTROYING THE WTA PRODUCT?

In recent times there have been much ado about the fact that many big tournaments are now combined events. This means that events which feature both men’s and women’s events and which would be held in back to back weeks, they are now incorporating these events and they are held in the same week.

The Canadian Open, aka The Rogers Cup is now a combined event. They have made this happen by holding the men’s event in Montreal as well as the women’s event in Toronto taking place at the same time. As with all combined events, the women’s event usually gets shafted in favour of the men.

Thanks to Eurosport I have been able to enjoy some of the women’s matches, but for the matches which are played in the evenings, the women’s event gets shafted in favour of the man of the moment who may be playing.

Last night was a case in point. If not for the rain delay which was happening in Montreal, most of us would never have seen Sharapova’s match against Jovanovski and forget about seeing Azarenka against Dubois. Livestreaming was your friend last night in order to even see that particular match.

The disappointment in the voices of the commentators was palpable when they had to keep announcing a rain delay happening in Montreal.

I have no idea whose bright idea this was to have 2 simultaneous large events, happening in the same country and expect that both tournaments would garner the same level of enthusiasm amongst fans.

Even worse, if it was not bad enough that the women get short shrift in terms of television coverage even when they are on their own, how is it possible that they would get equal coverage when the so-called “big names” of men’s tennis are playing at the same time.

Next week there is another combined event in Cincinatti and again I am not optimistic that the women will get equal coverage at this particular event.

While most of us who are tennis fans realise that the economy is in a downward spiral and that there is not much money in the pockets of fans to attend tennis tournaments, the fact remains that the product that the women produce is equal to or even surpasses that of the men. The accomplishments of the top women are on equal footing as that of the men. However, you cannot tell this when you have combined events as not only does the coverage for the men’s events overshadow that of the women, but the voices of those in the booth lends credence to the fact that the women’s tour is weak.

Take for instance what has been happening in both tournaments. During the first few days both tournaments lost top ranked players. The men losing the No. 4 and No. 2 seeds, while the women have lost the No. 1 and No. 2 seed. The narrative that has been written is that the No. 4 seed was having a post Wimbledon lull while the No. 2 ranked player was having issues with his foot, his opponent played out of his mind and he had a cold. The narrative written by the loss of the top seeds on the women’s side went something like this: weak No. 1 who could not handle the conditions or her opponent and for the NO. 2 seed – this may well spell her retirement. There were also talks about the depth in men’s tennis but for the women it was about a bunch of head cases who cannot string 2 points together.

Commentators, both those in print and electronic have consistently berated the women’s game. They find nothing exciting about the new crop of players and they spend most of their time writing about the screaming, grunting and otherwise peripheral things of women’s tennis, while on the men’s side the narrative is always about how tough and focused certain players are and the diversity at the top of men’s tennis.

On tap at today’s events, there are 14 matches scheduled that fans will be able to watch. Of those 14, 4 of them are women. They have even scheduled a doubles match with the men for viewing.

It would be good if at some point the narrative changed, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon.

This is today’s Order of Play

One thought on “COMBINED EVENTS – ARE THEY DESTROYING THE WTA PRODUCT?

  1. Great post and totally agree. I am excited to finally see some terrific newbies on the women's side. For the longest while it looked as if only the men newbies were making their presence felt. I am so happy that this is no longer the case.

    I have been watching some of the women's matches on espn3.com. Not a perfect solution either sadly because they tend to replay only what regular ESPN covered.

    Like

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