Hello and welcome to the fourth issue of Tennis inbox. This week, we talk tennis without crowds (again), Federer’s historic year (financially), World TeamTennis, and Andy Murray’s racquet specs from 2012.Read on to find out more.
Will players want to play without crowds?
While we’ve wondered what tennis will be like without a crowd for TV viewers at home, we haven’t particularly explored what players think about competing in empty stadiums. Will they be motivated to perform without the thousands of spectators that they’ve become accustomed to? Roger Federer offered his thoughts during a video call with French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten, saying:
“I can’t imagine competing in an empty stadium, I hope it never happens…. As much as when we train there are no people, competing is very different. It is clear that the possibility is feasible. But I think we could wait for the appropriate moment to return in the best conditions, with at least a third of the stadium full or half in…. It would be very difficult for me to play major tournaments behind closed doors.”
Similarly, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova gave her opinion on the matter, noting in a press conference:
“I have my age and of course I would like to play another grand slam, but if it’s like this, I’d rather cancel them…. Playing a grand slam is the greatest thing there is and playing without fans who are our engine doesn’t look nice to me and the grand slam doesn’t deserve it.”
But the comments by Federer irked Australian player Andrew Harris. In a now-deleted tweet captured by Twitter user ViVi B, Harris (ranked #204) said:
Maybe Federer’s remarks were simply off the cuff, and maybe Harris was a bit harsh with his wording, but the Australian player does have a point. What about the layers of players outside the top 100 who don’t have the financial security to just wait and see what happens? These players rely on competing for their income and to progress up the rankings. While popular players are able to live off savings, earnings, and endorsement deals, aspiring professionals are having to pick up odd jobs and are struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic. And some of these players don’t necessarily qualify for the Player Relief Programme.
Should Slams and tournaments go ahead if they can be hosted safely? Even if this means playing without crowds? Or will that degrade the prestige of a tournament in some way? What do you think?
Roger Federer, the $100 million man
Staying on Roger: numerous salary cuts for soccer players caused by the coronavirus pandemic have allowed Federer to top the list of highest-paid athletes in the world—a first for a tennis player.
Though Federer only had $6.3 million in prize money from June 2019 to June 2020, he pocketed around $100 million from his endorsement deals. Some companies Federer has worked with:
- Mercedes Benz
- Credit Suisse
Federer out-earned soccer players Cristiano Ronaldo ($105 million) and Lionel Messi ($104 million) to claim the top spot with $106.3 million.
World TeamTennis in… West Virginia?
Known for its mountains and coal mines, West Virginia will host the 2020 World TeamTennis (WTT) season from Sunday 12th July to Sunday 2nd August. The mixed-gender league will be played at The Greenbrier, a renowned luxury resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. All of WTT’s 2020 matches will be televised or live-streamed on CBS, CBS Sport Network, Tennis Channel, ESPN+ and/or WTT.com.
In terms of coronavirus safety, a press release on the WTT website states:
World TeamTennis will follow the direction of local and state government officials in West Virginia while adhering to all health and safety protocols set forth by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and take every precaution to ensure the safety of its players, coaches and essential staff in executing the operation of its matches.
In accordance with state guidelines, The Greenbrier’s 2500-seat stadium is allowed to host up to 500 spectators (20% capacity). World TeamTennis will feature stars such as Sophia Kenin, Sloane Stephens, Grigor Dimitrov, the Bryan Brothers, and more. This year’s competition will feature a $5 million prize money purse, which is $1.5 million more than 2019.
Murray’s racquet has a higher Swingweight than Djokovic’s
YouTuber Tennis Spin is back again with another great video, this time comparing one of Andy Murray’s match-used frames from his 2012 US Open triumph to Novak Djokovic’s set up.
This week we’ll also learn about the Balance of a frame. If you already know what it is, you can skip the following definition, provided by Tennis Warehouse University:
The balance point of a racquet is that point along the length of the racquet where a racquet will teeter and totter on a thin support (like a 1/2″ dowel or the edge of a ruler) without one end or the other being pulled to the ground. If the racquet balances halfway up the racquet from the butt, it is said to have even balance. If the balance location is more than half way up the racquet, it is said to be “head-heavy,” because the shorter head “half” counter-balances the longer handle “half.” Finally, if the balance location is less than half way, the racquet is said to be “head-light” because now the head-side “half” is longer and counter-balances the shorter handle-end of the racquet.
Static Weight: 357.5 grams (the same frame registered at 358.5 grams in the video linked in Ti #3)
Swingweight: 370 grams (the same frame registered at 369 grams in the video linked in Ti #3)
Balance: 327 mm
Static Weight: 353.5 grams
Swingweight: 380 grams
Balance: 333 mm
Compare Murray and Djokovic’s specs with that of a 2020 Babolate Pure Drive, and you start to see just how much heavier pros’ racquets are compared to the ones we can purchase.
2020 Babolat Pure Drive
Static Weight: 317.5 grams
Swingweight: 321 grams
Balance: 329 mm
Murray’s racquet has a Swingweight which is a whopping 60 grams heavier than that of the 2020 Babolat Pure Drive. We’ve always wondered how pros were able to strike balls with such impressive weight and power. Other than their technique and strength, it also has to do with the Swingweight of their frames. More mass equals more power—as long as a player is able to move that mass.