The tried and true rivalries that event promoters and the players themselves could count on are over. For the past 7 years Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have been veritable shoe ins for winning any and all of the 4 major tournaments. Roger and Rafa have lost their grip on The Austrailian Open, French Open, Wimblendon, and The US Open. Everyone who is anyone in the ATP has lost to one or both of them sometime in their career in the past ten years or so. In the past 4 years you can add Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray to the short list of shoe ins for the final 4 standing at these tournaments.
These superstars have an international appeal that transcends the sport. All four of these guys are still expected to win at these tournaments, but it is no longer a given…especially since Stanislas Wawrinka took home the trophy this year in Australia, the first major of the year. Stan represents the field both young and old who are popping up in final stages of tournaments where they haven’t been before in their short or long careers. It is very inspiring to watch for some. But how could it affect the masses of fans who came to see Roger?
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are being asked at every turn if their tennis will ever be the same again? It’s no wonder the greats from the past seemed to retire early! Each of these guys could probably play tennis forever if they didn’t have to answer really really stupid questions over and over again.
Why yes. Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lenl. Heard of them? They have finally followed John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg out onto the senior tour…Thanks to Jim Courier and his Inside Out production genius there is a senior tour where these geezers compete and draw thousands of spectators. When you think about Rafa’s or Roger’s fan base their potential for exhibitions or alternative competitive play outside the ATP could be pretty tantalizing for many venues. Both the ATP and WTA have founders who are active in promoting the sport. But change is inevitable.
In America there isn’t a lot of interest in tennis especially as a spectator sport. In California both the San Jose Open and the Los Angeles Open have shut down after decades of distinguished championship play. Avid players aren’t necessarily watchers of tennis and random TV watchers aren’t likely to find tennis as they channel surf in the USA. The networks who hold the rights to the final stages of the major tournaments don’t even play the matches live!
Whether it is a changing of the guard or not, Stan’s win in Australia makes the standings shifts way more than just a blip on the screen. There is some tennis to be played this year! The draws are going to make a bigger difference now. Dangerous floaters are numerous in every round.
Time to stock up on popcorn for Summer tennis viewing :)