The WTA’s Scheduling — Quotes from Guadalajara — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, Sept. 26, 2023

Howdy, y’all and Happy Tennis Tuesday! We know that this year’s WTA Finals will be held in Cancun, Mexico and fortunately, we have our first qualifiers announced.

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However, the WTA calendar, to be quite frank, is a mess. A player on the cusp of qualifying for Cancun, their schedule could look like this if they’re desperate for points:

  • 9/11: San Diego
  • 9/17: Guadalajara
  • 9/25: Tokyo
  • 9/30: Beijing
  • 10/9: Likely China
  • 10/16: Romania, Tunisia or China
  • 10/24: WTA Elite Trophy (WTA Finals alternates likely qualifying here) in Zhuhai
  • 10/29: Cancun
  • 11/7: Seville, Spain (Billie Jean King Cup Finals)

Quite frankly, I think the WTA fumbled the bag hard by forgoing a European city to host this year’s Finals. Apparently Ostrava, Czech Republic offered the same deal Cancun gave the WTA, but the tour decided to head back to North America. Ultimately, any city was better than Saudi Arabia taking over hosting duties, which would have caused even more ripples in the WTA.

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However, the Billie Jean King Cup Finals will likely get screwed over again by players that could play both Finals — Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, Jessica Pegula and Elena Rybakina, for example, because the travel and time difference would be far too great. We saw it last year when Swiatek withdrew from BJK weeks prior.

San Diego had quite a few withdrawals and then Guadalajara said “hold my cerveza.” Defending champion Pegula, Swiatek and Gauff all withdrew prior to the tournament, while after the draw was made, Belinda Bencic and Beatriz Haddad Maia pulled out. Then, Danielle Collins retired in her first match against lucky loser Sachia Vickery. The quarterfinal lineup at the tournament — again, a WTA 1000 — didn’t deliver as much but did produce some great tennis.

To be quite frank, I hope Steve Simon’s seat is starting to get a little warm, but unfortunately, I doubt it. Between announcing a Finals destination less than two months before the actual event — AGAIN — and having players crisscross all over the world chasing points and/or having to decide whether or not to represent their country, which could have Olympic ramifications? It’s just not a good look.

Sure, Cancun will bring in a great crowd like Guadalajara did this year at the WTA 1000 and the 2021 WTA Finals, but is the cost worth it? To me, it just looks like a continuation of a partnership with GS Sports Management, who have multiple WTA sanctions for tournaments, than putting player health at the front of their priorities. I have no doubt that Cancun will deliver a lot better of a turnout of fans, as well as player experience, than last year in Fort Worth, but the schedule has already shown cracks in the recent tournaments and I won’t be surprised to see more show up — specifically in Beijing.

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This Week in Women’s Tennis

50 years ago, Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes match, forever changing the landscape of sports. Some reads you might want to check out:

  • Even with BOTS, there’s still quite a ways to go overall in tennis.
  • Tracy Austin reflecting on where she was that day.
  • King’s and Riggs’ similar backgrounds leading up to the match.

The WTA has created their most robust maternity leave policy, but if it weren’t for Terry Holladay 40 years ago, it might never would have happened.

Maria Sakkari got over her demons and captured her second WTA title at the Guadalajara Open, downing surprise finalist Caroline Dolehide in straight sets. The doubles title went to Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens, who defeated US Open champions Erin Routliffe and Gabriela Dabrowski.

Wang Xiyu won her first WTA title at the Galaxy Holding Group Guangzhou Open, becoming the fourth Chinese player to win the event when she defeated Magda Linette in the final. Jiang Xinyu and Hanyu Guo shocked Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya to win their first WTA crown in the doubles final.

Ana Bogdan won her second WTA 125 event of the year at the Parma Ladies Open, downing Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the championship. In doubles, Dalila Jakupovic and Irina Khromacheva upset Anna Bondar and Kimberley Zimmermann for the title.

Though tennis has returned in China, there’s still plenty of doubt surrounding Peng Shuai.

Tennis has banded together to help raise funds for those affected by the North African floods that have killed thousands.

Caroline Wozniacki isn’t playing the rest of 2023, but will kick off her season next year in Auckland:

While the ITA All-American Championships is set to begin, Duke star Chloe Beck announced she’s turned professional instead of returning for her final year.

Emma Raducanu has her sights on a Wimbledon title, but aims to come back early next year with her protected ranking.

The Olympics are a high priority for Alex Eala, who continues to reach new heights for Filipino tennis.

David Haggerty was re-elected as ITF President for another 4-year term:

Tweet of the Week

Five at The IX: Guadalajara Open

Q. The famous quote of Giannis is that losing is not a failure, it’s a process to win. You talk with him about his mental toughness, and today you talk about how hard it was for you to be even a top player with just one title. So what was your mental process in all these years to finally, not only win, you not even drop a set in this tournament, that was how good you were.

MARIA SAKKARI: I can tell you that it was very tough all these years, especially the last two years that I’ve been a top-10 player. Everyone kept saying, Ah, she’s top 10, top 5, top 3, and she has only won one 250. Finally I just can shut their mouth in a way (smiling).

Obviously there’s still a long way to go. I don’t want to stop in the two titles. But I’m just happy for myself that I could overcome this and I can just prove to myself that I’m capable of achieving big things.

Q. How do you feel about working together? I mean, this is your second title at this level, so what does it mean to you, and what can you say about each other, and what are the best moments of your working together?

STORM HUNTER: Yeah, it’s been, we’ve been playing all year together, and it’s been a lot of fun. I feel like we’ve both grown as a team from the beginning of the year to now.

The girls we played today, they are on a roll. They won the US Open. We really had to figure it out. I think the trust that we have in each other’s games and just kind of knowing what we feel in those tight moments, and just having fun as well. Just trying to figure it out together, I think that’s the biggest thing. We know each other’s strengths, and, yeah, just try to use them as much as possible.

It’s been a great year. I couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s been so much fun with Elise. We obviously still have a few more events, including the WTA Finals in Cancun, which is very exciting that we’ve qualified. Yeah, looking forward to it.

ELISE MERTENS: We really played throughout the whole year together and really grew as a team. So, yeah, I think that’s why we turned around the first set and really, like, we were finding solutions and we found them and we were really, like, in the super tiebreak anything can happen. We really started off strong and I felt like we were really consistent today.

Yeah, she’s a very positive person on court. I mean, I’m like, sometimes I’m a bit like, Oh, I can’t miss. So, you know, it’s a really good combination.

Q. You say this is something to build on. How much is this a boost of confidence to beat, not even a top-100 player, but to beat this week like a top-10 player, for the rest of your career?

CAROLINE DOLEHIDE: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I’ve trained to beat top-10 players. I’ve trained just as hard, so to me, honestly, I’ve taken that confidence from practice and from the practice court, from the gym, from every single day, all the work that I’ve put in outside of this tournament.

Coming into this event and winning that tight match the first round and building on that, coming back from match points, all of that gave me more and more confidence. It’s just been building and building so, yeah, that’s great.

Q. What do you think about this schedule? It’s, I don’t know how to say it, there are many tournaments. How do you feel in this point of the season?

EMMA NAVARRO: Yeah, I feel good, actually. I think I played over 60 matches already this year. So I’ve kind of been on this grind the whole year now.

It’s what I prefer. I love to be traveling and playing a bunch of different matches. Just getting to play in different environments is really cool. It’s why I do what I do.

So I love it. I’m not feeling it quite yet. I’m not feeling tired or anything. I feel good. So yeah, I’m planning on continuing to play a bunch the rest of this year.

Q. Has something changed tactically or maybe preparation off court to produce the results that you’ve gotten recently?

SOFIA KENIN: Honestly, just putting in the work, practice, fitness. Of course doing massages, treatment after the matches have helped. I’m going to continue doing that.

Of course, confidence with the matches that I’m playing, wins in a row. Confidence definitely is the key for me.

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