Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon recaps the latest decision in the greater tennis.
There’s a fine line between being proactive and jumping the gun.
On the one hand, you’re deciding on taking steps to ensure that you’re not the last one without a chair when the music stops but on the other, you’re sort of throwing everyone else but you under the bus.
So yeah, there’s a difference between the two and tennis gave us a good reminder of this a mere 10 or so days ago—which might as well be a lifetime ago at this rate, but we digress—when the Roland Garros organizers decided, out of the blue and seemingly out of nowhere, that they would reschedule their whole entire event to mid-September. (We wrote about it too.)
This threw the entire schedule of September in flux and was clearly an instance of jumping the gun. That said, we understood their need to be proactive and simply decide before long what would happen to their big prize of clay. Funnily enough, had Roland Garros merely waited another week or so then they would have had a nice little two-week window in the middle of the summer to temporarily slot their second major of the year once the International Olympic Committee announced that they were postponing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (It’s likely that a theoretical July French Open would still have needed to move again but at this rate, the entire tennis community would have had time to figure things out by then.)
Anyway, these are the breaks as they say.
Also the breaks are the fact that the ATP and the WTA have decided to halt all competition on their respective circuits through June 7, 2020. In a nutshell, this is okay and fine but the rub was the second part of their announcement: the powers that be were freezing ranking points until then.
That’s right, folks have decided to respond to these unforeseen and uncertain times by changing its guidelines. Look, it says so right there on the ATP Tour’s rankings FAQ page. The rankings, their site will tell you, is the “historical objective merit-based method used for determining entry and seeding in all tournaments» over «the immediate past 52 weeks.” The page goes on to list two exceptions to that rule of the 52 weeks: the Nitto ATP Finals and the Futures Series Tournaments.
But other than for those instances, the rankings should reflect the immediate previous 52 weeks—except, we guess, if there is a global pandemic that stops any and every tennis tournament for (at least) three months?
Tennis fans have reacted in one of two ways to the news, probably betraying whether they are fans of Novak Djokovic or fans of Roger Federer.
The first group sees an injustice in this decision, see a would-be occasion for their favourite to make up ground by accruing weeks at the No. 1 ranking he has so strongly fought for—not to mention adding what would have been likely a handful of important singles titles—only for the authorities to pull the rug from underneath him.
Plenty of folks, however, reacted much, much more coldly. These are not normal times, you know, so we must react to these weird circumstances in weird and unexpected ways. We are facing a new reality and it’s okay to adapt how we react, to be proactive if you will. we must act now in order to avoid the looming disaster—and well, if it happens to favour our favourite player, well that’s unfortunate but entirely not purposefully so. You can almost picture them saying all of the above as their mental gears start grinding.
In reality, both sides to this reaction probably have some truth to it. It’s unfortunate that tennis does decide to change its guidelines on a whim like they have but it’s also not entirely on a whim since a dang global pandemic has halted all play for the foreseeable future.
No word, yet, on how Rafael Nadal fans feel about it.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG