Tennis fans have reacted with utter shock after images of a doubles WTA Finals match were shown with next to no one in the crowd to support the year-end event. The WTA Finals has caused controversy this year with World No.2 Iga Swiatek and other top stars hitting out at the playing conditions for the season-ending tournament in Mexico.
Three-time grand slam winner Swiatek echoed concerns from World No.1 Aryna Sabalenka around the safety of the playing surface in Cancun, with the Belarusian slamming the organisation of the event as "not acceptable" from the women's governing body.
And in a further blow to the WTA showpiece event, tennis reporters have called out images showing just a handful of people in the stands for a rematch of the US Open final. Gabriela Debrowski and Erin Routliffe defeated Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva to move into the semi-finals.
But in a match re-scheduled for the morning in windy conditions, the stands were completely empty except for a handful of seats taken up in the front. Jose Morgado pointed out the dire scenes as he took a dig at the event.
"Matches starting earlier than initially scheduled today in Cancun (because of one doubles match postponed from Monday due to rain) and this is how many people showed up to watch," he wrote. Tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg pointed out the stark reality of doubles in the landscape of tennis.
Tennis great Rennae Stubbs weighed-in on the debate and said it is hard because the match was hardly advertised that it had been re-scheduled. However, she also suggested a revamp of the tournament could be needed to drive interest.
Fans weighed-in on the scenes and argued over the look for tennis and the doubles format as a whole.
Matches starting earlier than inicially scheduled today in Cancun (because of one doubles matches postponed from Monday due to rain) and this is how many people showed up to watch...
My lord. https://t.co/ueuGpQZdi7
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) November 1, 2023
correct, it was often 4 teams and BLOODY hard to get in...and often many teams were made up of the best singles players too. and it was single elimination. Which to me it should be again.
— Rennae Stubbs 🟦👍🏼 (@rennaestubbs) November 1, 2023
This video, as I said, is an extreme outlier, but the numbers and patterns are clearly established across both ATP and WTA by this point.
More marketing won't make people care about doubles specialists. Audiences have had chances for years to buy in and they don't.
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) November 1, 2023
Well it’s 11AM on a Wednesday for a doubles match, to be fair.
Still I agree, attendance has been poor.
— El Gran Dictador (@ElGranDictador6) November 1, 2023
The whole tournament has pathetic attendance. It’s amazing that it’s right in the middle of resorts with people that presumably play tennis and no one shows
— ricky (@rcarrolljr) November 2, 2023
Iga Swiatek takes aim at WTA Finals event
Earlier in the tournament on the singles side, Swiatek hit out at the conditions after construction of the court and stands were only completed in the days before the event got underway. "It's not comfortable, and the fact that we also didn't have time to practice. The Pole's defeated opponent Marketa Vondrousova was even more blunt and described the court as "honestly, very bad. It's very crazy."
She said it felt "like bad clay or grass courts" and "I don't think this court is very good for the WTA Finals, to be honest."
This followed World No.1 Aryna Sabalenka blasting the conditions after her opening round victory. "To be honest, I don't feel safe moving on this court a lot of the time," Sabalenka said.
"The bounce is not consistent at all and we weren't able to practise on this court until yesterday for the first time. It's just not acceptable to me with so much on the line and so much at stake. As I said in my press conference tonight, as a player I really feel disrespected by the WTA. I think most of us do."
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