By Joe McDonald Photo Credit: Natasha Peterson/Corleve
(September 8, 2011) If Andy Roddick was screaming for a union yesterday, he may be looking for the body of Jimmy Hoffa after today's events.
The No. 22 seed finally got his match off against No. 5 seed David Ferrer, which he won, 6-3 6-4 3-6 6-3 to make the quarterfinals at the US Open, but not without the some controversy.
Roddick found some water seeping through the Louis Armstrong Stadium court as he was set to resume his match which ultimately made the court unplayable.
"Today you couldn't do much," he said. "I looked down at one point and I saw like kind of like a little crack, and it had probably seven or eight nickel‑sized water drops on it, but it looked too perfectly placed. It almost looked like someone almost pored a little bit of water out.
"So I dried it off, played the next game, went back to play the point, and saw it was there again. That's when I realized that we had a problem."
That problem sent him to Court 13, where Roddick hasn't played since 1999, losing to Scott Lipski in the first round of the juniors and he played there in '98 losing to Fernando Gonzalez in the first round.
But today, Court 13 was lucky for him, even if it was a little surreal.
"We had some Van Morrison wannabe playing music in the courtyard, so we had a Brown Eyed Girl soundtrack for about two games there," said Roddick, who is back in the US Open Quarterfinals for the first time since 2008. "There was a guy scaling the fence in the back for a second. He was about to serve and I saw a guy climbing up the fence.
"A couple people wanted to do commentary from the service line. I didn't think that was gonna work. There was someone who ‑‑ there was a repetitive screaming from the courtyard at one point. It was actually kind of shrill. It was a little stressful. It sounded like someone was getting hurt. So I don't know if that's what it's always like out there."
But Roddick got though it and after this Open, he is serious about unionizing the players. Unlike other the team sports, where player's salaries make up more than 50 percent of total revenues, tennis players get about 13 percent, according to Roddick.
Tournaments are out to make money, but the fans come to see the players, where is where the 2003 US Open Champion sees the bargaining chip. But before you see Roger Federer on a picket line, you have to understand there are some problems here.
First, unlike team sports, tennis players are independent contractors. They are not employees of anyone, so they don't get regular paychecks. There's a certain beauty to getting paid for performance instead of getting your cash for past performances. Just ask the Washington Nationals or the New York Mets, who paid Jayson Werth and Jason Bay, respectively, for their play for other franchises.
But because there is an every man or woman for him or her self attitude, you have hundreds of different agendas out there, rather than one common goal.
"When you have to get 25 or 30 people on the same page, you know, their main concern is ‑‑ you're getting one guy who is worried about the doubles cut and Stuttgart is his main thing," Roddick said.
"The next guy is worried about ‑‑ it's just tough to come together. I think you have to have the right person involved who might understand the business side of it, might actually understand numbers, the way something works. You know, you're gonna have to have a player of some sort who's willing to make some sort of sacrifice a little bit."
And that's where the problem lies. The stars may have to sacrifice some money for the greater good of the sports. That means the top prize money may have to go down at certain events, so the pot would be giggler for the rest. It also means some players need to decline certain lesser tournaments, so the season can end sooner.
It all starts with the stars. The top players on the ATP and WTA need to band together to get this happening.
"I think it's pretty simple," Roddick said. "You know, everything that goes on around this disappears without the ‑‑[top players]. There is no home team, so it is a star‑driven sport. It always has been.
"You have to get the stars on the same page, and then I think you can pretty much get whatever you want."
Yet, getting all these stars together is the problem. And it may not happen any time soon. Golfer tried this on the PGA a few years ago to no avail and the ATP and WTA won't help since they are on the other side of the coin running the tours.
So it will take time, if at all. But Roddick does have some good ideas about a union. And of course, everything starts with an idea.