Another big star was forced to retire from the Shanghai Master 1000 in as many days. After Andy Roddick, today Juan Martin Del Potro surrendered to a wrist injury continuing the curse that has seemingly affected him after his American triumph. Jurgen Melzer played consistently, without conceding anything to the Argentine, who was broken immediately to 0-2, but broke back to 2-3. They went on with serve until 6-5 Melzer; then the Austrian displayed the best game of his match coming up with a stunning, change-of-direction forehand winner straight down the line to bring up a set point. But he hit a backhand long on the next point and wasted another chance soon after. FinallyDel Potro had a shocker with the next couple of points and slapped a straight forward forehand volley well long of the baseline to concede the set at Melzer's third attempt. The second set last only for three games, then Melzer secured a third round against Feliciano Lopez.
The two injuries left open space for a rethinking of the more and more tiresome calendar. Players, and Roddick was one of the more critics, complained for the excessive length of the season and against the ranking reform. Atp, in fact, has forced the big to play the four Grand Slams, the Masters Series (Montecarlo maintained the status of MS but players were not obliged to guarantee their presence), four Atp 500, whose at least one after the Us Open, and two Atp 250 that went to compose the amount of their ranking points. If they cannot go to one of the “obliged tournaments” they’d receive a zero in their ranking. So, the big, to avoid a zero negatively affecting their hopes to play the World Tour Finals finished to compel themelves to a wearying tour of the world with no appreciable pauses for recovery, rest or make-up sessions. The times of Pat Rafter, who gifted himself a period of surfing in his home-country after the majors, seems far.
Moreover, if the intention will become true, things are meant to worse for players’ ankle. In the name of business, in fact, to attract biggest players until now deserting the events, four South American tournaments are thinking to pass from the clay to the hardcourt. Buenos Aires organizers are leading this reform project, so hoping to attract the Tandil-born “Palito”: it’s very harsh, in fact, to have an home grown champion and accept he prefers going play abroad in the same week. Next year the Buenos Aires open is programmed from 16th to 22th February, contemporarily with other two events, in Marseille and Memphis, where with all possibilities Del Potro will decide to play. “It’s simply a matter of surface” said Martin Jaite, the event organiser who talked with Del Potro’s father and his coach, Franco Davin. “In that period he’ll has been preparing for Miami and Indian Wells, the first Masters 1000 of the season”. With Buenos Aires, also Costa do Saouipe, Vina del Mar and Acapulco could change surface and make hardcourt the real common denominator of the season. The 2009 calendar is composed of 66 events: 21 on the clay, 6 on the lawn, 39 on hardcourts, indoor or outdoor. If the reform would “pass”, without considering a possible similar decision at Umag, the equilibrium would become 43-17. Effectively too much. The clay would become the second “victim” of business, after the lawn. Because tennis, as everything in the world, is bending itself to business and television. And reasons of money doesn’t contemplate the existence of specificity cubbies.
Critics could oppose to theese considerations the news that Nadal and Federer will be present at the Abu Dhabi exhibition, for the Capitala World Tennis Championships, starting the 31th december 2009. Their season will start before, they will gain more additional money. And, above all, they are the only two player to can manage their calendar freely, the only, or at least, who can afford a “zero” or two without visible counter-indications. Not everybody has such a privilege.