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"Not going to judge solely by a Halloween night crowd on a Monday" - Tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg defends WTA Finals 2022 in Texas over low attendance on opening night

Ons Jabeur and Aryna Sabalenka during the 2022 WTA Finals (L).
Ons Jabeur and Aryna Sabalenka during the 2022 WTA Finals (L).

Low attendance numbers on the opening night of the 2022 WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas put an early dampener on the season-ending championships as many fans lamented the lack of crowds. However, tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg believes it would not be fair to judge the tournament and the venue this early.

Both matches on Day 1 of the 2022 WTA Finals saw very few fans in the stands, which was rather surprising as American No. 1 Jessica Pegula faced Maria Sakkari in the first match before fan favorite Ons Jabeur took to the court for the second match against Aryna Sabalenka.

While Rothenberg feels that Fort Worth is a "tough sell" for a tennis tournament, he suggested that low attendance numbers on Monday night were expected given it was Halloween as well as a weeknight. However, he hopes more fans will turn up as the tournament progresses. Rothenberg also opined that the tournament "looks good" at the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth.

"WTA Finals in Fort Worth look good, and the ~1,000 fans in attendance are very engaged, it’s just a question of if more crowd will show up as word gets out about an event that was only announced last month," Ben Rothenberg tweeted, adding, "Not going to judge solely by a Halloween night crowd on a Monday."
WTA Finals in Fort Worth look good, and the ~1,000 fans in attendance are very engaged, it’s just a question of if more crowd will show up as word gets out about an event that was only announced last month.Not going to judge solely by a Halloween night crowd on a Monday.

He admitted that Fort Worth is not a tourist attraction, but reiterated his hopes of seeing locals support the top players in action at the WTA Finals over the week.

"And with due respect to Fort Worth, which stepped up to host this event and by all accounts has been doing a good job with it, it’s hard to think of an comparably-sized American city which is less of a tourism draw. Tough sell, but I hope DFW locals and other Texans turn out," Rothenberg added.
And with due respect to Fort Worth, which stepped up to host this event and by all accounts has been doing a good job with it, it’s hard to think of an comparably-sized American city which is less of a tourism draw.Tough sell, but I hope DFW locals and other Texans turn out.

He further expressed his opinion that women's tennis is in a transition phase with star power still rebuilding, highlighting that Iga Swiatek is the only Grand Slam champion in the Top 8 field for the 2022 WTA Finals, which is an all-time low number for the prestigious season-ending tournament.

"And also, this is a hugely transitional time in women’s tennis, the star quiver is rebuilding. There’s only one Slam champ in the field of the top eight, which is a record low for this tournament," Rothenberg stated.
And also, this is a hugely transitional time in women’s tennis, the star quiver is rebuilding. There’s only one Slam champ in the field of the top eight, which is a record low for this tournament.

Jessica Pegula and Ons Jabeur stunned on opening night of WTA Finals 2022

The 2022 WTA Finals got underway in Texas on Monday.
The 2022 WTA Finals got underway in Texas on Monday.

Maria Sakkari avenged her straight-sets defeat in last week's Guadalajara Open final at the hands of World No. 3 Jessica Pegula by defeating the American in straight sets in the first match of the group stage of the 2022 WTA Finals. Sakkari needed two tiebreaks but got the job done, winning 7-6(6), 7-6(4).

Meanwhile, World No. 2 Ons Jabeur could not hold onto the advantage of winning the first set, losing 6-3, 6-7(5), 5-7 to Aryna Sabalenka in the second match of the night.

The match between Jabeur and Pegula on Wednesday will act as a virtual knockout battle.

Pegula also lost her first match in the doubles event as the Chinese pair of Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan beat Pegula and Coco Gauff 6-4, 4-6, 10-7 on Monday night.

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Edited by Anirudh
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