viewership

The Elected Representative: Caroline Wozniacki – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Hanging it Up

After previously stating that he might give it a go in 2011 and see how both his body and ranking held up, American Taylor Dent has decided to officially call it a day on his career. An exciting serve-and-volleyer who reached a career high ranking of No. 21, his career was unfortunately hampered by multiple back injuries. With his wife and young son Declan, Dent will have plenty to keep him busy in retirement, but he’s already expressed interest in staying connected with the tennis world. No doubt that with his charming disposition, he could make a great addition to Tennis Channel’s commentary booth. Another retirement, albeit less publicized, was that of Czech doubles specialist, Martin Damm. You can expect to see him back on the tennis scene right away, however, as he has already announced that he will be coaching American sensation Ryan Harrison. Harrison wowed audiences at the US Open this past summer, and he’ll be looking to utilize Damm’s expertise to take the next step in his budding career.

Prayers Answered

Maybe it was the numerous complaints from fans across the country. Maybe it was a more lucrative deal. Whatever the reasoning behind the switch, American tennis fans will be thrilled to note that the Indian Wells and Miami Masters, two of the largest events in tennis, will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ABC in 2011. This is welcomed news after the two tournaments had previously been aired on the affiliates of Fox Sports, which meant poor, haphazard coverage that led to plenty of hate mail and angry postings. Hopefully the change in carriers will also lead to an increase in viewership, participation, and popularity of the sport in the United States

Repeat Champs

This past weekend, Italy defeated the United States in a repeat of the 2009 final. The title marked Italy’s third championship in just four years. Granted, the United States was fielding a relatively young team that included teenage Fed Cup rookie Coco Vandeweghe, but much credit has to be given to the veteran Italian squad that included both Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone. The victory in particular had to be the icing on the cake for Schiavone, who enjoyed her best season as a professional. Perhaps both of the Italians will be able to channel the positive boost from the Fed Cup title into their play in 2011, much the same way Schiavone did this past year.

London Calling

Tournament organizers and Parisian fans were disappointed when current World No. 1 Rafael Nadal was forced to pull out of the final Masters event of the season, having cited tendinitis in his shoulder. Hopefully the injury is not a result of the tweaks he has made to improve his serve, and Nadal and his camp will be praying it doesn’t become nearly as problematic as his knees. At the very least, Nadal will be doing all in his power to ensure that he is ready for the final tournament of his season, the ATP World Tour Championships in London. He’s yet to add that impressive title to his long list of accomplishments, and after a poor showing at the same event last year, he’ll be looking to make amends at the end of what has been the best season of his young career.

Elected Representative

While much of the United States was focused on its national elections, the WTA had its own election earlier this month. Newly-crowned year-end No. 1 Caroline Wozniaki will be joining the WTA Player Council, replacing Patty Schnyder. In addition to Akgul Amanmuradova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Wozniaki will be joining Schiavone and both Venus and Serena Williams. As Wozniaki’s star has only continued to shine brighter with each tournament she enters, it’s safe to say that hers will be a voice that carries some weight as the Player Council works to continually shape policy and life on the WTA.

IVANOVIC’S MISTAKE: THE FRIDAY FIVE

By Maud Watson

Mixed Priorities? – By now, everyone probably knows that Andy Roddick’s wife Brooklyn Decker is appearing on the cover of the famous Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. But in case you missed it, Serb Ana Ivanovic is also being featured in the popular magazine spread. It’s easy to see why she was approached to be in the issue, but I question her decision to do it nonetheless.  This is a woman who has slipped to No. 23 in the rankings, was in tears during her second round Australian Open defeat to Gisela Dulko, and after a dismal performance this past weekend in Fed Cup, freely admitted that she’s suffering from a psychological crisis. Her lifetime contract with Adidas aside, now is the time for Ana Ivanovic to focus more on her tennis and get it back on track. If she doesn’t, then she’s going to quickly be labeled as one of those underachievers who is nothing but a flash in the pan.

Setting an Example – In a refreshing bit of news, Barclay’s conducted a survey of 1,500 individuals and found that tennis stars Roger Federer and Steffi Graf were named top male and female sports role models. Given that it’s one of the cleanest sports, and the fact that golf has recently been rocked by the Tiger Woods scandal, it wasn’t entirely shocking that tennis should score so high. Hopefully tennis’ growing reputation as a model sport for young children and adults everywhere will further help grow viewership and participation around the globe.

Suffering Safina – It was announced earlier this week that former world No. 1 Dinara Safina had to pull out of the Dubai tournament due to her lingering back problem. She hopes to be able to compete in the upcoming Indian Wells tournament. I personally have my fingers crossed for the industrious Russian. I firmly believe she has the game to win a Grand Slam title, but this lingering back injury could very well be a sign that this is the beginning of the end of her tortured career.

Thai Sighting – For all of you Paradorn Srichaphan “Sricha-fans” out there who’ve been wondering what Thailand’s favorite native son has been up to, he’s been preparing to star in an upcoming Thai action film.  Just a week after Leander Paes announced he was going to be starring in a psychological thriller, Paradorn announced that he would be the feature star in the upcoming film Beng Rjan II. Paradorn has been sidelined from tennis with a wrist injury since 2007, and odds appear slim he’ll ever make it back onto the tour. With any luck, this movie gig will work out and he’ll have a second career on the big screen.

The Enigma is Back – I’ll be the first to admit that aside from thrilled, I was more surprised to read that Russian Marat Safin is planning to play the Champion Series event in Rio this coming March.  Given Safin’s attitude towards tennis as primarily a business, I never really expected him to play another competitive match again, and certainly not so soon after his November retirement. One thing is for certain, however.  Given the more laid back and jovial atmosphere that exists on the Senior Tour, you can bet that the affable Safin is going to be bringing plenty of laughter to the tennis court and delighting fans around the world once again.