It was a busy weekend on the WTA circuit, both for a tournament taking place and one readying to begin. Let's start with the recently concluded China Open.
Any match pitting Serena Williams against Jelena Jankovic is bound to be dramatic. (Witness exhibit A here.) To this end, the Beijing final did not disappoint. Serena won the event for her tenth title of 2013 to move her to seventh on the WTA career-titles list. She won this match 6-2, 6-2, at that. Even so, TENNIS.com's own Peter Bodo termed it a "strange straight-sets match" with "the WTA's ranking drama queen" in a lead role. And, well, all this transpired:
That's Serena with a back injury—after Petra Kvitova's own back troubles in the past week, and then Jankovic claiming a hip injury (see photo above). To her credit, JJ subsequently pulled out of the coming week's Osaka event.
What do you think of the drama and the pain in this match? Were both players well within their rights and responding smartly, with the year-end championships looming soon enough, to what their bodies were telling them? In short, that's the Spin's take.
Next, a word on the WTA's tournament in Linz, Austria, which notched some negative press even before a main-draw ball was struck.
Kvitova pulled out of the event, citing injury after her Beijing loss to Jankovic. Despite that withdrawal, the Linz draw was made, and Ana Ivanovic was featured as the No. 2 seed behind Sloane Stephens. Indeed, Ivanovic assisted in the draw ceremony at that.
Enter Angelique Kerber. Competing with Jankovic for a spot at the WTA's year-end championships in Istanbul, Turkey, she was granted a wild card into the Linz event, and another player, Lisa-Marie Moser, was bumped out of the draw at her expense. Moser, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 336 in September, was treated unfairly in the minds of many observers and fans, basically being nudged out of competition to accommodate an elite player. Beyond that, Kerber was also awarded the event's No. 1 seeding and bumped Ivanovic out of her position at the bottom of the draw. Still, the Linz event's leaders sought to practice semi-subtle damage control:
The problem with that explanation was that Kvitova's withdrawal was hardly "last minute." She was to be replaced in the draw by a lucky loser, in truth. Moser, a player who could greatly use the matches (read: the money) was dropped from the tournament to usher in a Top-10 star. And so it would seem that is another grand instance of why the ATP and WTA tours could certainly use a players' union. Yes, there are players' councils, but the rights and responsibilities are not entirely the same between the two, and seemingly, the rights for lower-ranked players do not match those of the top-tier pros.
Here's the Linz draw now. And here's the penultimate word from Ivanovic, now No. 3 and facing Yanina Wickmayer in round one:
One of those things when you realise you're powerless... No matter what they say! #linzdraw— Ana Ivanovic (@AnaIvanovic) October 6, 2013
The last word goes to Matt Cronin, who also wrote about this issue:
As Kerber gets late WC into Linz Jankovic pulls out of Osaka.JJ just ahead of Angie in pts race. Scuttlebutt is JJ not thrilled w/ LinzGate— Matt Cronin (@TennisReporters) October 7, 2013
What do you think of the draw decisions made in Linz?
Got a thought, a tip, or a point to make? Hit me on Twitter @jonscott9.