The 2009 WTA Rulebook has been released and it thankfully answers a lot of my Roadmap questions, even if I had to sludge through 450 pages to find them.
But first, a small rant. WTF with the renaming of the tournament classifications? Tier I, Tier II, Tier III, and Tier IV was fine. But now everything's been changed to Premier Mandatory (Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing) Premier 5 (Dubai, Rome, Cincy, Toronto, Tokyo), Premier $700 (remaining Premier tourneys), and International tournaments.
A. Noy. Ing.
Anyway, here are some of the interesting tidbits:
- Rankings Points: They've upped the amount of points available for tourney wins. Grand Slams have been doubled to 2000 points for the winner, Mandatories are 1000 points, Premier ($2M) are 800, Premier ($600k) are 470, and Internationals are 280.
- Definition of Top 10 Player: The “Top 10 List” shall consist of the 10 highest-ranked singles players as of the WTA Tour Rankings produced immediately following the previous year’s Sony Ericsson Championships (“Top 10 Players”). This is significant for tourney entry rules. I think it's interesting that the Top 10 Player list won't fluxuate through the year. I'm not sure this is a great system for those "bubble" players, i.e, #7-14.
- Bonus Pool: Top 10 players are eligible for "bonus" money for fulfilling her commitments and ending the year in the Top 10. The bonus pool schedule is pretty fat. If you fulfill your obligations and end the year at #1, you're eligible for a $1M bonus.
- Top 10 Player Commitments
- Must play the Grand Slams, all four Premier Mandatories, four Premier 5s, and two Premier $700s, for a total of 14 tournaments.
- May play one International tournament in each half of the tour year
- Top 10 players cannot play in an International tournament during a week when a Premier Mandatory or Premier 5 tournament is scheduled.
- WTA Guaranteed Player Commitment: For the top Premier tourneys, 7 of the Top 10 players must commit. For the non-top Premier tourneys, 2 of the Top 6 or 1 of the Top 6 and 2 of the top 12 must commit. If the WTA doesn't meet the commitment requirements they have to pay the tournaments some cash.
- Suspensions: A Top 10 Player who, for any reason, fails to compete at a
Premier Mandatory or Premier 5 Tournament that is part of her
Commitment will be required to either (1) Attend the Missed Tournament
and perform ACES activities (i.e., promotional activities), or (2) Perform ACES
activities on one of three alternate dates outside of the
Missed Tournament. A player is excused if the
reason for missing the tournament is an extended injury.
If a player refuses or fails to perform her duties under either option, she will be fined and suspended from competing in all WTA Tour Tournaments through the next two Premier Tournament weeks, inclusive of any International Tournaments scheduled in that time period. In addition to the mandatory zero ranking points for the Missed Tournament, a player will also receive mandatory zero ranking points for any Commitment Tournaments missed as a result of the suspension and such mandatory zero ranking points shall count on the player’s ranking as one of her best 16 Tournament results. In otherwords, your ranking is fucked.
- No Universal Health Care: As previously discussed, players get up to 6 "free" medical time outs for the year. After that they have to pay a "service fee" of up to $300 per MTO.
- On Court Coaching: During televised matches, microphones will be positioned to capture on-court coaching and player responses, which may be used for live television broadcasts. Coaches will also be individually mic'ed. If the coach turns off the mic the player and coach will be prohibited from using on-court coaching for the remainder of the tournament and the next tournament. Coaches may be called once per set (at the changeover or end of the set) or during an opponent's MTO or bathroom break.
- The Peppermint Patty/Bepa Rule: Only conversations related to coaching (e.g., strategic, tactical and emotional advice) shall be broadcasted. Conversations relating to injuries or personal matters and extended emotional outbursts shall not be aired. In other words, none of the juicy stuff. Then again, I don't know how they're going to enforce this rule in Europe where they don't cut away during the changeovers. The Rule Book says broadcasters can broadcast the conversation live. So it looks like it's the U.S. viewers that are SOL.
- Misplaced Priorities: The maximum fine for unsportsmanlike conduct in $10k. But the maximum fine for violating Dress or equipment rules is $25k. Go figure.