Former world No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska believes the Grand Slams’ move to revert back to 16 seeds instead of 32 starting the 2019 season is “not a good idea” and has questioned the fairness of the decision.
The 2012 Wimbledon runner-up has had a difficult injury-plagued year and is down to No. 28 in the world rankings after being a constant fixture in the top-10 for most of the past decade.
If the 16-seeds system was implemented for this coming season, Radwanska would not have been seeded at the 2018 Australian Open.
The 28-year-old Pole understands that the reduction of seeds can result in compelling match-ups in the early rounds of a major but she also believes that clashes between high-ranked players at the start of a tournament is something that should be avoided when possible.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea to be honest. I don’t know why they changed that. I don’t know what’s wrong with what we’ve had so far,” Radwanska told Sport360 during a preseason training stint in Dubai recently.
“I think some of the rules are changing because something needs to be changed, even when something is good, they’re still making changes. I think having 32 seeds was good. These are Grand Slams, so why do you have to play someone ranked 17 in the world in the first round instead of the fourth round?
“I’m not sure if that’s fair, especially that you work really hard to be seeded, including those seeded 16 to 32, so I’m not sure that’s a good rule.”
This year, Simona Halep was drawn against Maria Sharapova in the first round of the US Open because the latter had a lower ranking due to her 15-month doping suspension.
The showdown was a high-quality affair that resulted in Halep’s dismissal leaving the tournament without its No. 2 seed from the get-go.
“For sure there will be some good players ranked lower because of something. We’re not machines, so everybody will get injured sooner or later, or get ill, or not playing for some time, so there’s always going to be these kind of matches,” explained Radwanska.
“But if there’s a chance to avoid them playing in the first round, why not having 32 seeds? Maybe that was good for TV and everybody was excited about this kind of first round (Halep v Sharapova). But for them, I don’t think they were happy about that. Even the winner, nobody wants to have that kind of first round.
“There are still so many good players who are very dangerous for the first round without having that high of a ranking, so you can still have tough first rounds with 32 seeds. It shouldn’t be like this.”
Other changes set to place at the Grand Slams include the introduction of a shot clock on court to make sure players do not exceed taking 25 seconds between points.
The shot clock will be used starting next month’s Australian Open.
“I remember playing IPTL and there was the clock beeping and I was rushing, it was tough because in your mind you have that ticking, something around your head somewhere. That was really stressful,” said Radwanska, recalling her experience from the team exhibition league.
“But I know that a lot of players take more time and some chair umpires didn’t care or didn’t do anything about it, it was weird and for sure not fair. We’ll see. It’s always hard to tell from the couch, we can comment on that when we’re there on the court, so we’ll see.”
One thing often debated but still not introduced at the majors is on-court coaching. The US Open experimented with the concept during the qualifying rounds this year, so did the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan last month.
The WTA allows on-court coaching, but the ATP and Slams don’t.
“I was fine without it,” said Radwanska. “That’s also something they changed because they wanted to change something. I think if there’s something like this, it should be everywhere.
“When you don’t have it at the Grand Slams, the most important events of the year, why have it somewhere else? There’s always a good and bad side.
“I’m not really that much into the coaching, also because I’m not used to it. There are some players that use it all the time, so probably they really feel the difference when they’re alone at the Slams and can’t call the coach, but me, I’m so used to playing without that.”
While Murray has endured a disappointing 2017 riddled by injury, Konta enjoyed another stellar season that included finishing number nine in the world and reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon.
Konta was glued to the television when Murray triumphed in 2013, 2015 and 2016 and there was further success for tennis in 2015, when Britain’s Davis Cup squad was named Team of the Year.
“I remember Andy winning it, three of the last four years, and I actually remember the Davis Cup team won the team one,” Konta said.
“I think it’s more Andy that sticks out. But I never thought of me being on it. At that stage I wasn’t where I am now with my career.
“I didn’t really understand the context of it all or how it worked. So no at the time, I definitely didn’t think I it would be me one day.”
“My family shared their dream with me. They lived my dream.” 🎾
— BT Sport (@btsport) November 29, 2017
Joshua’s momentous win over Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley in April deems him the stand-out name on the list but Hamilton has a strong case too after a fourth world title made him Britain’s most successful Formula 1 driver.
Swimmer Adam Peaty, who broke his own world record twice in one day at the World Aquatic Championships in July, and Tottenham’s Kane, who grabbed the Premier League’s Golden Boot in May for a second season in a row, might also fancy their chances.
Jonnie Peacock, Elise Christie, Sir Mo Farah, Chris Froome, Jonathan Rea, Anya Shrubsole and Bianca Walkden complete the line-up.
Asked to pick a winner, Konta said: “I actually think, for me, Anthony Joshua or Adam Peaty.
“I do like those two but to be fair, the list is a bit of a joke. For it not to be an Olympic year and to have that much talent, it’s actually been pretty incredible the sport this year.
“I’ve essentially grown up watching it – I’ve been watching it since I’ve been here, so I know exactly what it is but I feel kind of removed from it.
“I don’t quite understand how I’m on the list and I know what the show is but it doesn’t feel one and the same. It feels exciting. To be among those names feels pretty ridiculous.”
The 27-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion defied expectations in returning to competition despite suffering serious wounds to her playing left hand as she fought off a knife-wielding intruder at her home in the eastern Czech town of Prostejov in December 2016.
However, within months she had not only made a comeback but also won a title — the pre-Wimbledon tune-up event in Birmingham — and rounded off the Grand Slams with a quarter-final appearance in the US Open.
“Playing on the grass at Wimbledon (where she reached the second round) and getting a good result in the US Open was very important for me mentally, and for my confidence,” Kvitova told The Guardian newspaper.
“This year has been a rollercoaster. The beginning wasn’t very nice, so I’m really glad that it’s over. Now I can look at everything positively again.”
Kvitova, who reached a career high ranking of second in the world in December 2011, says she shrugged aside fears she would never play again.
“I did hear the rumours that I would never ever play again but I thought: ‘I will show them’,” said Kvitova, who has been playing since she was four.
“I was like: ‘Why are they saying this?’ It was very painful for me, it felt like they didn’t believe me.
“The week after surgery I asked my doctor: ‘Do you think I could play in Wimbledon this year?’ He didn’t answer for a while and then he said: ‘We are going to work on it and blah, blah, blah.’ I understood then that it wasn’t going to be easy.”
Kvitova, who has 20 titles to her credit, admits her hand is still not what it was.
“It will probably take more than a year to get full movement back, I’m not sure,” said Kvitova, who is presently ranked 29 in the world.
“For tennis and for life, it’s good.
“I am happy that (throughout the recovery) I was always looking forward to the better tomorrows.”
— Petra Kvitova (@Petra_Kvitova) December 5, 2017
Kvitova, who was told last month police had shelved the investigation as they had hit a dead end in identifying her assailant, says she has grown to love her ‘new hand’.
“I have started to live with my new hand,” said Kvitova, who will kick off 2018 in the WTA tournament in Brisbane, Australia.
“I’ve started to try to like it, to love it and that’s how I am going to take it. It’s my hand and I am just happy that I have all of my fingers.”