Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Rome - draw reflects stupidity of random seed placement

Following on directly from Madrid is another combined ATP and WTA clay court centrepiece, and the final chance in a big tournament (Masters for the men and Premier for the women) for players entertaining thoughts of a successful Roland Garros, or even earning a start in Paris.
Rome is the venue, and apart from the on court action the Italians are using the event to celebrate the career of Flavia Pennetta, who retired at the end of 2015 having won the final 2016 Grand Slam tournament (US Open), her first and only GS title, in September.  Without lifting a racquet this year, Flavia is still ranked 13 in the world.

Very early on, with only first round matches completed in most cases, and a handful of second round contests decided, some seeded players have suffered disappointment.
Gael Monfils, the Monte Carlo runner-up, shocked everyone with a second round loss to Cuevas in Madrid, and his sudden loss of form continued, leaving the Rome excitement even earlier to Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci in two sets in round one.  Although Bellucci is a respectable 37 in the world, his terrible 5-12 win loss record for 2016 puts this result in the big upset category. Three of his five wins came in one early tournament in Ecuador where he made the final.

Argentina's Juan Monaco upset 16th seed South African Kevin Anderson in the second round, while the women's draw lost, in round one, Karolina Pliskova (16th seed), Elina Svitolina (15) and sadly for Italians one of their own Sara Errani (14). The latter two lost to qualifiers, but significantly the qualifiers, though ranked lower, have enjoyed better win/loss records this year than the players they defeated.

The favourites have yet to grace the courts, but the random and shameful nature of the draw has once again shown its ugly face.  Djokovic is seeded one and Nadal seeded five.  They have deserved the right to play the lowest of seeds 5-8 and 1-4 respectively in the quarter finals.  That is what the rankings are meant to give back in return for all the blood and sweat spent in achieving the points used to assemble the order.

So the best player (Djokovic) should be drawn to play the eighth seed (Berdych) in his quarter final.  Nadal (5th seed) should play fourth seed Wawrinka in his quarter final.
Instead the stupid random draw which throws the seeds all over the place has given both Djokovic and Nadal the potentially tougher task of facing each other in the quarters, effectively penalising both for being ranked as high as they are.
Further, if the higher seeds win through to the semis, Djokovic will play third seed Federer, while second seed Murray will play the lower ranked fourth seed Wawrinka in his semi.  What did Andy do to deserve drawing a lower ranked player than top seed Novak ? Nothing ! It is this dumb idea of shuffling seeds around to create some sort of excitement at the start of the tournament and satisfy the egos of those running tennis, at the possible expense of having players drawing each other earlier in the event than they should, and maybe denying the spectators a final between two of the best because they are randomly and incorrectly on the same side of the draw.

They could stuff up Roland Garros again, because right now we want Novak and Rafa to be drawn to meet in the semis if they are seeded 1 and 5.  If Rome is repeated that proper process will be shafted.
In the 2015 French Open Novak defeated Rafa in the quarters but seeded 1 and 6 they should have been on opposite sides of the draw, with Rafa playing Murray in the quarters.  The dream final could have eventuated but for the idiocy involved with the jumbled up placement of the seeds.

There have been plenty of calls to revert to standard seed placement in draws, many by yours truly, but unless sanity is ever in charge of tennis again we will continue to endure flawed tournament draws which too often give us flawed results.

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