Great day in the morning all. Wow - what a night. Congrats to Kimmie again. And restt up Serena.
I wouldn't mind some changes in the format as long as it's all good.
Posted on Tue, Nov. 12, 2002
WTA Looks to New Format to Boost Sagging Interest
BY STEVE KEATING
LOS ANGELES - The Women's Tennis Association is considering overhauling the format of the Tour Championships to help boost sagging interest in its showcase event.
Kim Clijsters's 7-5, 6-3 upset win over world No. 1 Serena Williams brought the curtain down on the year and a tournament plagued by poor attendance and limited interest.
As result, the WTA admitted that there was a need for improvement and was looking at adopting the eight-player round-robin format the ATP has developed instead of the women's equivalent 16-strong field.
"We know we have format problems," said Kevin Wulff, chief executive of the WTA Tour. "I think it's safe to say we've never had extremely well-attended events on any Wednesday or Thursday whether it be New York, Munich or here.
"It is something the WTA intends to address in the upcoming month or so.
"There has been a lot of talk about an eight-or-12 player round-robin, which is something the ATP has used effectively.
"I'm not going to say exactly what we'll do but we'll come up with a concept that really sets these championships apart from the balance of our season."
The $3 million season-ending extravaganza billed by the WTA as their world championships and touted as the sport's fifth grand slam unfolded more like a challenger tournament receiving scant attention from the fans and media.
"A lot of my friends had no idea why I was in town," said Monica Seles, the sixth seed and three-time winner of the event.
"The first year is always hard but I think if they tough it out, they can build it up to what it was in New York at the Gardens."
After a 23-year, mostly successful, run in New York the tournament was taken from Madison Square Garden and moved to Munich last year where it flopped miserably.
But the move back to the United States was greeted with an even bigger yawn, the vast majority of matches played out in front of a few hundred spectators sprinkled across the cavernous Staples Center, home of the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and NHL's Kings.
"It doesn't feel like it does it," said Bulgaria's Magdalena Maleeva, when asked if the event was the world championships of women's tennis.
"We were all excited about being here and we all fought very hard to make the top 16. It's really unfortunate that we have to play in front of those small crowds.
"It's just unfortunate that you have Henin and Clijsters playing, two of the world's best players, and there was just a few people.
"I guess LA is a very big city and the promotion wasn't very good.
"It's obvious that for such a competition there are too few people.
"It feels like the end of the year and I want to go home."
While the tournament featured an elite 16-player field, play for the most part was as uninspiring as the atmosphere inside the vacant arena with only three matches stretching beyond the minimum two sets.
After each loss, weary players trudged into press briefings complaining of fatigue before racing off for a brief vacation.
The wear and tear of a grueling 11-month season has also manifested itself in injuries at the last two Championships further denting the event's prestige.
In front of the largest crowd of the week, world number two Venus Williams was forced to retire from her semi-final against Kim Clijsters after just 13 minutes with a left leg injury.
The previous year in Germany, Serena Williams claimed the title in a walkover when Lindsay Davenport could not play because of an ankle injury.
The players' pleas for a longer off-season, however, were dismissed by Wulff, saying tennis was no different any other sport.
"You know covering sports that a lot of championships, like the Super Bowl, players are hurt and tired," said Wulff. "But the players always step up when you have a championship on the line.
"I think it's safe to say that every player that came in here gave it their best.
"I think the winners didn't talk about the fatigue quite as much as some people who didn't make it into the finals today.
"It's safe to say every sport has fatigued players."
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