Ana Ivanovic + Agnieszka Radwanska have followed Dinara Safina's lead and come out publicly against the scheduling changes in the WTA Tour's Roadmap 2010.
Both lady ballers, who are competing this week in Linz, sounded off against the increase in mandatory events for top ballers. Here are the highlights from the Roadmap:
* 40% increase in prize money from $63.6 million in 2006 to $84.4 million
* 26 Tier I + II tourneys will be combined into 20 Premiere tourneys with a minimum baller commitment of 10 that they will play
* Four $4.5 million tournaments in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing will be mandatory for all players who qualify
* Five $2 million stops in Canada, Dubai, Rome, Cincinnati and Tokyo of which the top-ranked players must play at least four. The WTA must have at least seven of the world's top 10 ballers at each of these events.
* Ballers will complete their schedules by playing in at least one or two $700,000 events
* Zero tolerance for withdrawals from tournaments ballers have committed to playing. If a baller does pull out, even because of injury, she will forfeit bonus money ($5 million available to the top 10 ranked players) and receive zero ranking points for that event
Based on these new rules, each top lady baller must play a minimum of 24 events, which includes the four majors. Ouch.
The French Open champ admitted the lady ballers "probably didn't look deep into it and kind of let it go" because the Roadmap was announced during the height of Grand Slam season and they would "have to talk more between us":
I do believe it's going to be a lot of tournaments we have to commit to and it's maybe going to be a little bit harder in that sense. We don't have much opportunity to choose, and at the end of the day it might be that we play more matches than we did in previous years.
I think it's good that tournaments will have guaranteed players and week after week have top players competing against each other. I think that's good for women's tennis. But on us individually it's tough to say what impact it's going to have.
After the new rules with the WTA I don't want to be top 10 because the rules are so bad and everything is for the WTA. I cannot play the small tournaments and it's quite bad. I hate these rules. I can play just two small tournaments a year.
We're all saying this, but the WTA is doing everything for themselves, for the sponsors, but they don't realise we have to choose where we want to play and not want to play.Uh-oh. Now that the lady ballers have actually had time to mull over the new schedule they're none too pleased. As I mentioned previously, a meeting of the top ladies is desperately in order here and there's no time like Doha to make that happen.
I agree with Ana that the timing of the Roadmap announcement wasn't ideal and it didn't give the ballers time to digest the changes and make recommendations. Moreover, the decision by the WTA to launch the "2010" Roadmap in 2009 is idiotic and robs these ballers of more time to voice their concerns. But my gut tells me that's what the Tour wanted - to fast forward the launch to force feed the changes before the ladies could do anything about it. Not the best way to build bridges.
I can see why they feel the need to just speak out whenever they can and to whomever is listening because, clearly, the WTA is not.
(images via AP, Getty)