The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Lindsay Gibbs, September 24, 2019

The Laver Cup problem -- Asian Swing update -- Li Na blesses us with words

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The Laver Cup should include women

It was an exciting week in women’s tennis, with Naomi Osaka winning her first title in since the Australian Open in her hometown of Osaka, Japan, and Sofia Kenin and Karolina Muchova also finishing up in the winner’s circle. (More below, in the links.)

But none of these women were the talk of the tennis world over the weekend, and not just because of the time zone differential. As it did in 2017 and 2018, its first two years in existence, the Laver Cup soaked up most of the attention.

And look, I get it. With its innovative format and star-studded lineups, the Laver Cup is a deserving recipient of the spotlight. It’s essentially a Ryder-Cup like team competition, except instead of Team Europe vs. Team USA, it’s Team Europe vs. The World. Roger Federer’s management company is the driving force behind it, there are two teams of six people each, legends serve as captains, and there’s singles and doubles. They also use innovative camera angles, coaching, and provide more access than traditional tournaments. Again, I get the appeal.

So, what’s my problem? You know what it is. WHY AREN’T WOMEN INCLUDED IN THIS EVENT? Federer said last year that he had heard from WTA players who want to be involved, and hopefully it will happen someday. But why weren’t women a part of this from the start? It just feels incredibly short-sighted in my opinion.

You’re telling me Team World couldn’t use a boost from Naomi, Ash, Bianca, and Serena? That having a Halep/Nadal mixed doubles team, or a Federer/Kvitova pairing, wouldn’t be a dream come true? That you wouldn’t want to watch Nick Kyrgios cheering on Serena? Honestly, the possibilities are endless. It would be Hopman Cup on steroids.

I think the fact that a mixed-gender tennis team competition doesn’t exist is absolutely ludicrous, and someone is bound to start one sometime soon. If the Laver Cup organizers are smart, they’ll innovate sooner rather than later, and get there first.

This week in tennis

It’s hard to script a narrative as good as this one, seeing Osaka rediscover her winning ways in the city where she was born, with her father back as her coach. Welcome back, Naomi.

Sofia Kenin won the Guangzhou International, taking out Sam Stosur in the final. That’s her third title of the season.

Karolina Muchova won the first tile of her career, destroying Magda Linette to win Seoul.

It’s great to see Amanda Anisimova back on the Tour for the first time since her father’s sudden death right before the U.S. Open.

Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic are the third doubles team to qualify for the 2019 Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen.

Garibine Muguruza opens up to Courtney Nguyen about her battle to get back to the top of the sport.

Ash Barty tells WTA Insider that she’s not going to rearrange her schedule to chase the year-end No. 1 ranking. At least not right this second.

This week, we have Barty as the top seed in a loaded Wuhan field.

Love this Legacy Spotlight on Original 9 member Judy Tegart Dalton.

The great Victoria Chiesa checks in with longtime WTA umpire Anja Vreg.

And Slovakia’s Viktória Kužmová is the top seed in Tashkent.

Tweet of the week

Five at The IX: Li Na will not be pulling a Clijsters

Thanks to the Wuhan Open, we have been blessed with a Li Na press conference transcript. We are not worthy. Honestly.

Q. You have a done a lot to promote the Wuhan Open. Any other new plans in promoting the Wuhan Open?
LI NA: You must work for the Wuhan Open, right (laughter)?

Well, after the US Open, there are many events in China. Wuhan may not be the best city, but to me it is unique. I am a Wuhaner. I play tennis. I think promoting the tennis tournament is a natural thing to do.

Q. Kim Clijsters —
LI NA: I’m not coming back (laughter).

Q. Any comments on her comeback?
LI NA: My manager sent me a message when he received the news. I said, Are you joking?

Well, to her decision, it is a courageous thing to do. She loves this sport, and that is why she decided to come back. No matter what happens, I wish her every success.

Q. You partnered with her in one of the events. Back then did she mention she was going to come back?
LI NA: We didn’t actually talk about tennis. We chatted about family, our children. I think this is what all mothers do, right?

Q. In the center court, Venus was defeated. Any comment on her performance?
LI NA: Well, she’s still very good. Every player, when she’s at the court, she wants to win. Tennis is a magical sport. We have teenagers as well as people like Venus in their 30s who are still fighting. Every player is fighting on the court to try to bring the best performance.

The core of sport is not to get the championship. Well, getting the championship is good, but the core of this is to challenge yourself to be a better self. I believe Venus is enjoying this process. That is why she’s fighting on court.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports QUEEN OF ALL MEDIA
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.