THE ANDY WARREN COLUMN: It's time to liven up tennis
I HAVE to be honest, I find tennis incredibly dull these days.
Not because I don’t appreciate the quality the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Roger Federer serve up every time a Grand Slam comes around, and certainly not because I don’t recognise what Maria Sharapova brings to the sport.
But because it is far too predictable.
The Australian Open is now underway, and I think we all know that three of the four male players mentioned above are almost nailed on to reach the semi-finals, and that Nadal would join them if he was fit to take part.
These four men are exceptional athletes with outstanding ability, and the fact that shocks are so rare in tennis is testament to their immense skill, but what is the point of almost every other player in the draw turning up four times a year?
The top four seeds have won all-but one of the last 31 Grand Slams dating back to 2005, and while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has threatened to crash the party on occasions, only Juan Martin Del Potro has managed to topple them at the US Open in 2009.
The Argentine beat Federer in the final, and guess what, the two losing semi-finalists were Djokovic and Nadal.
What if these four gods were to meet each other in round one of Wimbledon or Flushing Meadows? What would that do for the sport?
Manchester United and Manchester City clashed in the third round of last season’s FA Cup, and the Red Devils’ reward for victory was a visit to old foes Liverpool. Sir Alex Ferguson’s men lost at Anfield, meaning arguably the two favourites for the competition fell at a relatively early stage, opening it up for everyone else while still ensuring the competition enjoyed some thrilling games of football.
Darts sticks to the same seeding structure as tennis, but for one tournament a year, the UK Open, it is a complete free-for-all where Phil Taylor could meet Adrian Lewis at any time, while a complete unknown can reach the latter stages under the radar.
The likes of Tsonga and Del Potro are outrageously talented tennis players, but what chance do even they have of succeeding when they have to almost certainly beat two of the top four just to taste success?
Could tennis not introduce at least one Grand Slam a year with an open draw? That would really mix things up, and in my opinion bring some of the excitement back to a great sport which is in danger of being overshadowed by four megastars.