On The Baseline Tennis News
January 2, 2009
If you haven’t received your “Idiot’s Guide” to the 2009 WTA Roadmap calendar yet, consider this to be your official copy.
Despite the 2009 Roadmap bringing renewed vision and excitement to the women’s game, it’s not exactly easy to follow.
This simplified guide will introduce you to the changes in the tour schedule, define the differences between “Premiere” and “International” tournaments, and explain how ranking points are distributed. Most of all, it won’t leave you scratching your head when the season ends in October.
The 2009 Tour calendar now features 54 tournaments across 31 countries (including all four Grand Slams) compared to last year’s 60 tournaments in 34 countries. The geographic division of tournaments includes 25 tournaments in Europe, 15 in the Americas and 14 in the Asia-Pacific region.
SHEDDING A FEW TIERS
Forget everything you know about “tiered” events. The 2009 WTA Roadmap has taken a different approach. Instead of using a four-tier system, the 2009 tournaments are divided into two categories: “Premier” and “International”. The differences between Premier and International events are based on prize money, ranking points, and player fields.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Premier vs. International
Premier tournaments are the marquee events of the WTA tour – designed for top-level players, and offer the largest paychecks. Formerly Tier 1/II events, there are 20 Premier tournaments in all.
Three types of Premier events:
1) Premier Mandatory – Required/combined tournaments for all players who qualify by ranking with prize money equal to the total men’s prize money for the same event ($4.5 million–US currency).
- Indian Wells – March 11-22
- Sony Ericsson Open – March 25-April 4
- Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open – May 9-17
- China Open – October 3-11
2) Premier 5 - Tournaments having minimum prize money of $2,000,000 (US currency)
- 5 tournaments
3) Premier $700 - Tournaments having minimum prize money of $600,000 or $700,000 (US currency)
International: – International tournaments are designed for the other 950 players on the WTA tour, with minimum prize money of $220,000 (US currency). Formerly Tier III/IV events, there are 29 International tournaments in all.
IT’S ALL IN THE NUMBERS
New Ranking Point Distribution for Tournament Winners
Grand Slam – 2,000 points
Premier Mandatory – 1,000 points
Premier 5 – 800 points
Premier $700 – 470 points
International – 280 points
More rest, more money, and more advice? Who wouldn’t want that? Here are just some of the perks that players will enjoy in 2009:
- Total tournament commitment dropped from 13 to 10
- 20% increase in prize money – just over $85 million overall
- Less abrupt surface changes between tournaments
- More in-season breaks for players
- A slightly longer off-season (8-10 weeks, with the season ending in late October)
- On-court coaching – now a permanent addition to the WTA tour. Microphones will be used to capture conversations between players and coaches during matches, for the benefit of live television broadcasts. Time will tell if this will become a source of interference or a source of entertainment.
BOYS AND GIRLS TOGETHER
They may not be sharing locker rooms, but the WTA/ATP players will be seeing a lot more of each other in 2009. There’s bound to be some drama there.
Combined Events for 2009 (17 total):
Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing, Sydney, Moscow, Eastbourne, New Haven, Brisbane, ’s-Hertogenbosch, Estoril, Memphis, Acapulco, and all four Grand Slams.
Back-to-Back Combined Events for 2009 (8 total):
Dubai, Tokyo, Rome, Cincinnati, Canada, Auckland, Bastad, and Warsaw
TWO WINNERS ARE BETTER THAN ONE
For 2009, the WTA has incorporated two season-ending championships, one for Premier and one for International tournaments.
Sony Ericsson Championships – Doha, Qatar
-Held at the end of the season (Oct. 27-Nov. 1)
-Minimum of $4,450,000 in prize money (US currency).
The Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions - Bali, Indonesia
-Held AFTER the end of the season (Nov. 4-9)
-Players who have qualified for the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships singles event will not be eligible to play this tournament.
-Minimum of $600,000 in prize money (US currency)
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
Tournaments Removed from the 2009 calendar: The European autumn indoor season in Germany and Switzerland.
New tournaments for 2009: Madrid, Brisbane, Monterrey, Ponte Vedra Beach, Bastad, Warsaw, and Osaka.