Get rid of round-robin
The round-robin format as it is is a disgraceful competition format. The only benefits it has are gimmicks: that there are more matches so that the WTA makes more $$$$ (and, THEORETICALLY, people are more entertained due to the greater number of matches), and that it is "unique" and different from what we normally see.
The issue I have here, foremost, is the lack of integrity in the system. When the top eight players qualify for the season-ending championships of their sport, they should not need to be treated to multiple chances to remain in a competition. This is what round-robin allows, and while you can apply subjectivity to the situation in saying Stosur could draw Azarenka in the first round of the tournament and be in an 'unfair' position due to her poor past record against her, the round-robin format in itself is the epitome of unfairness.
Generalised, the issue with the integrity of round-robin is that one match can have adverse effects that do not apply solely to the match itself. Round-robin creates little messy scenarios that players themselves have the ability to affect in an entirely unfair way; in particular, today, Petra Kvitova, as a player who had already qualified for the semifinals and had guaranteed her advancement to the next round regardless of her third round-robin match, had the ability to lose one set and attempt to win from that point, which would have determined whether someone OTHER than Petra Kvitova herself would find herself advancing to the next round. I am speaking entirely hypothetically here and would not accuse any players of carrying out such a plan, but I am highlighting the fact that these conditions can be taken advantage of and that the issue is that each match creates and effects just as many conditions as it does the actual elimination of the loser and advancement of the winner.
Last year, as I recall, Kim Clijsters had the ability to hand-pick her semifinal opponent by either tanking or attempting to win her third round-robin match. Again, we are only looking at this hypothetically and not from the exact possibilities of the scenario given. It is this power that is given to the players and gimmicky percentage statistics that makes me dubious of the round-robin format.
I feel that the very top players in the world should not need multiple chances. In a tournament as big as the season-ending championships, it feels to me like they should go big or go home, rather than be given the opportunity to play up to TWO awful matches and lose them both (in the case of advancing to the semifinals as the second player in a 3-0, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2 group outcome), and still end up the winner of the tournament.
There is also the issue of the WTA's foolish scheduling of this tournament. Deliberately holding matches between a player who has already played a match and a player who has not is rubbish, and while this is not a problem exclusive to round-robin, I wanted to complain about it anyway.
Last but not least, there is the anticlimatic feeling of the possibility of the final being a match that has already taken place during the week. Am I the only one who has an issue with this?
As for possible solutions or alternatives, I would suppose there are none other than changing the format of the tournament back to direct knockout. Direct knockout between the top eight players only provides seven matches throughout the course of the week, and I would suppose this is problematic from a marketing standpoint. The format could be reverted to direct knockout with sixteen players as it once was before, but looking at it subjectively the quality of the players in the 9-16 race bracket -- or lack thereof -- is slightly concerning. Again, from a marketing standpoint, it would be regrettable to lose your #2 player to the #14 player, or to end up with a Peng - Bartoli SF, but that is creating excuses for the best players when they do not manage to bring their best games to the tournament.
The best players in the world should be expected to bring their best games to these matches, and when they are given multiple chances and there are a flurry of conditions, rather than the strict outcome of having to win the match or be absolutely eliminated, it is blatant that players will NOT give it all they have. This is disappointing from everyone's point of view, even when the WTA benefits from more matches being played.
Less is more. Go big or go home.
Last edited by Papillon.; Oct 29th, 2011 at 12:33 PM.