If I were Dr. Tennis, I’d give the WTA some prescriptions — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, Feb. 21, 2023

Happy Tennis Tuesday! An old Tennis Tuesday popped into my head when having a discussion with a group chat of tennis fans I’m in. I was asked “if you could change three things at the WTA, what would they be?” A couple of years ago, I decided to list a few items I would like to see the WTA implement or at least bring back. Fortunately one of those — getting rid of 10-point third set match tiebreakers in qualifying — was implemented this year at the ITF $40,000-level and above, but I decided to follow up since it’s been some time.

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For me, the most frustrating thing about the WTA is that they often shoot themselves in the foot or are their own biggest roadblock. I personally think the executives in St. Pete have been there for too long. While I get that the COVID-19 pandemic and then the unresolved situation with Peng Shuai hasn’t helped the tour, there’s still been quite some time and we’re nowhere close to a WTA Finals venue with enough heads up. For positions like CEO and President, why not make them have term limits and an election process instead of being voted on by the Board? Shouldn’t each player that pays dues have an actual say who leads their organization?

These next two I’m taking from my 2021 piece because I still want it!

Why do we not start implementing mixed doubles outside of Grand Slams? Other than World Team Tennis, the only time I saw mixed doubles on tour was the 2004 China Open, that had a full purse of $6,000. Mixed doubles brings out some phenomenal players and matchups and in my opinion, helps break down the narrative that women are the weaker gender in doubles. So many times, the women holding their serve is the biggest difference — and honestly, most of the time, the men choke.

On top of the WTA 1000 events that are combined, there are a number of WTA 250s and ITF events that host both men and women at the same time. This week’s WTA 250 in Merida, Mexico used to be a $15,000 ITF event that combined with a $100,000 ATP Challenger in Guadalajara. There’s ample opportunity for not only more players to get matches under their belt, but build a legit mixed doubles ranking system to use throughout the year. And if there can’t be a mixed doubles ranking, give doubles players those points. Speaking of doubles points, only doubles rankings should be used in the entries if this idea ever comes to fruition. Doubles specialists are losing many chances to participate in tournaments because singles players can use their rankings to enter. OH! And bring back women’s doubles qualifying to give doubles specialists more opportunities to show their craft and make money!

Did you know that before the Roadmap that then-WTA CEO Larry Scott helped implement in the early to mid 2000s, players received bonus points based on certain wins they had? If you beat the No. 1 player in the world, you received x number of points (then it would decrease down the rankings).

Now, why did the bonus point system go away in 2005? To help ensure players play mandatory and other specific events. It also helped pave the system for some players to overplay and only count their best 16 results (and for those that played include the four Grand Slams and four mandatory WTA 1000 events).

In the past, players got points for every win over a ranked person — No. 1 or No. 1234. I’m a fan of that. By tabulating the best wins, the rankings will fully showcase the best player, not the player who played the best events well. When quality points were in effect, they were divided and calculated into a ranking, and I think that should stand too. Either have a set number and divide by that, or divide by the amount of tournaments the player played.

Look, I know these ideas are pipedreams and I have a better shot at the next Power Ball draw than these ideas coming to fruition. However, I’m curious on if you have any idea the WTA should look into or what you would change! Send me or The IX a note here or on Twitter and lets discuss!

On to links!

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This Week in Women’s Tennis

A true trailblazer says goodbye to the WTA as Sania Mirza lost her final match today in Dubai. Exploding on the scene twenty years ago, the Indian paved the way for an extraordinary career that included multiple Grand Slams and the No. 1 doubles ranking.

With more than 17 million people affected by the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey, the tennis community is rallying together with a “Tennis Plays for Love” campaign. Former Turkish WTA player Ipek Senoglu talked about how she felt the tennis community failed with their timeline to help and how you can help assist relief efforts.

Nancy Lee is one of the country’s most-talented juniors, but she can’t afford to play anymore and has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs of indoor court time.

Iga Swiatek captured her second consecutive QatarTotalEnergies Open title in murderous form. She defeated Jessica Pegula, 6-3, 6-0, for the win and only dropped five games in her three completed matches (she received a first round bye and a walkover in the quarterfinals). The doubles title was also defended in Doha with Pegula and Coco Gauff knocking out Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko in a match tiebreaker.

Esther Vergeer was announced as one of the 2023 inductees for the International Tennis Hall of Fame, while there was no “Player” inductee for the second consecutive year after nobody could secure the 75% vote.

The Eastbourne tournament the week before Wimbledon — and potentially more — could potentially be cancelled if Russian and Belarussian athletes are banned from the grasscourt season again. The WTA allegedly offered to cut their fine in half if the ban was released.

Biomechanics are being talked about more and more as players are finding any technology, coaches, etc. to get .1% better. Belinda Bencic is no exception.

This is just too good:

The forever-iconic Jelena Ostapenko opened up about fashion, how playing someone she doesn’t like affects her and more.

Hsieh Su-Wei was scheduled to make a surprise comeback this week in Dubai, but visa issues prevented her from arriving in time.

Krystina Pliskova is working her way back from maternity leave and decided to travel to Dubai to be a sparring partner with twin sister Karolina.

Indian Wells will have some pre-tourney mixed doubles fun:

The Laureus Sports Awards nominations were revealed and Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina are among the tennis players nominated.

Lily Kimbell had quite the impact on her UGA teammates and some spoke out to remember one of the university’s best players of all-time following her sudden death at 31.

Dubai is the first WTA 1000 of the season. Learn more about the top of the WTA’s regular-season jewels.

Tweet of the Week

Naomi Osaka wouldn’t let her pregnancy get in the way of a legendary hit with Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf:

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon