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Thirty30 Tennis Blog - Beyond the Baseline Jon Wertheim with WTA CEO Steve Simon - Injuries, Calenda

Updated: Nov 26, 2019

On the latest edition of the ‘Beyond the Baseline’ Podcast (October 09, 2018) host Jon Wertheim talks Injuries, Tour Calendar and Match Formats with WTA CEO Steve Simon.

The relevant part (4m 18s) of the podcast can be listened to here:

The associated transcript is below:

JW: Serena Williams shut things down after the US Open, which isn’t a big surprise. She’s done in the past. Halep is injured, Maddison Keys injured, Sloane Stephens more or less shutting it down, Ostapenko complains she’s exhausted, their results come across my screen and there’s there’s OA’s (Organiser Acceptance) and RET (retired) with an injury. What are we going do about the physical and mental demands that the calendars play? And, this isn’t unique to women’s tennis obviously, but what are we going to do about this calendar here?

SS: Well I think that it’s not anything new. It is a long calendar for sure and I don’t know too many sports where you don’t begin to see that in any sport as you get towards the end the season. In fact we probably last a little bit longer than that physical sport that we follow here called football. But, there is no question it is a long year. I think the exciting thing for us is that with the depth of our product we’ve got a very exciting end of the year coming leading into our Finals where we still have with two weeks to go three spots available and five players fighting for it, which are all exciting stories in themselves. And I think that one thing that we as a sport and I have been on record saying about this, we need to do, is we need to look at our format, long term. We need to protect the integrity of competition but I do think that asking these athletes over a 44 week period of time to be playing three hour matches day in and day out with no rest in between is going to take a toll on their bodies.

JW: You’re talking match format, you’re talking the format of the competition itself?

SS: Yes. JW: How far are you willing to go there? SS: Well, I think that there are ways, but we have to focus on is how do we get our matches where they become 90 minutes to two hour matches versus these three hours because I think one, it will work better for our broadcast windows but also more importantly as physical as the tennis is today and as athletic and powerful as it has become if we can get our athletes off of the court in a shorter period of time I believe they will stay healthier and they actually may play more which is great because the more that they are on the court obviously the better the ratings and the better the product is for our fans.

JW: Four games sets? I mean, when you think about what this looks like, what do you envision? SS: Well I think you could look at you know there’s been the tests of the Fast4 format which is the four game format that you’ve reflected.

In the doubles we already have a format where you play a tie-breaker for the 3rd set and I believe that format was used for the recently held Laver Cup event which is at pretty high level.

So, we have that as well.

Do you go to No Ad scoring? Do you play tie-breakers at 5-all versus 6-all.

I think that there is a number of things that you can look at to do it but I think that we as a sport as all sports have to look at the duration of our matches because I do think that the consumption, capacity or rate of our fans in going to continue to diminish.

They don’t sit in one place for three hours anymore, they like it in smaller nuggets and I think we have to react to that as well as deal with the health of our athletes.

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