After Wimbledon, 2017 is sort of used to strange Grand sSam scheduling–after the issues Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal had at Wimbledon, with the latter complaining it’s always the same names that get Centre Court and that it’s unfair given the differences in speed and how only Centre has a roof. Here in New York, however, at the final Grand Slam of the year, it’s perhaps even stranger especially on the women’s side–and fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki told it exactly how it is.
I’ll start with her first comment after her loss last night to Russian Ekaterina Makarova, which is, “I think putting out a schedule where the fifth ranked player is playing on Court 5, fifth match on after 11pm is unacceptable.” Quite honestly, she’s correct, no player should potentially finish at two in the morning, regardless of anything. What’s even better here is when you actually look at yesterday’s schedule. On Arthur Ashe Stadium, the main court, the women’s day matches were Rodina vs Bouchard and Sharapova vs Babos. The first of those matches features two players ranked outside the top 75; Bouchard may have been a big deal a few years ago but she’s not anymore. How can the US Open justify such a match being on their showcase court? Is it because of Bouchard’s sponsors or so-called attractiveness? Whatever the reason, it’s embarrassing.
If we look at the other match I mentioned, Wozniacki herself commented that she herself understands the business side of things but “it doesn’t set a good example” that someone who has recently just come back from a performance-enhancing drug ban is on the main court every match. I couldn’t agree more with her; just imagine how it looks to kids and others out there. It’s so easy to assume everything she did has suddenly been forgotten and wiped clean just because of the huge star she was. If anything, it sends the message that if you dope and get caught it’s not a big deal, especially since the Russian’s ban was cut from two years to 15 months. To add to that, Sharapova was not even eligible for direct entry to this event and needed a wildcard to get in. But now since she’s got one and is ranked #146 in the world, she is still treated like a top seed while other top players, such as Wozniacki, aren’t.
Thankfully, Wozniacki against World #40 was moved to Court 17 and was completed just after midnight–much earlier than it would have been if played on Court 5. But even when you look even the women’s matches originally scheduled on Louis Armstrong and Grandstand, the second and third main courts, it’s actually rather laughable. You have Coco Vandeweghe vs Alison Riske, who have a combined amount of a whopping three WTA titles, which was only on Armstrong due to their nationalities, then you have 25th seed Daria Gavrilova against Allie Kiick on Grandstand. Fair enough–Gavrilova just won a title last week in New Haven, but Kiick is a woman ranked #643 in the world and as expected lost comfortably. The Dane against Makarova was one of the better more competitive matches on paper, let alone being one of the round two matches with the lowest combined ranking, but even then that wasn’t enough reason for the organisers to put them on a court they deserved.
To conclude, I couldn’t agree more with Caroline Wozniacki. She is a two-time finalist here and has every right to complain about the scheduling and favouritism, and if anything, she didn’t say enough. It’s rather sad that this is a recurring theme in the biggest events in tennis these day,s but as long as the organisers only care about a few names and the business side of tennis, it will unfortunately always lead to this.
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