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World Team Challenge 2009: Day 1

Isn’t the first major of the year is supposed to wake us up? And wake the players up? Years ago, when the Aussie Open was played in December, it got lost, crunched into the year-end sporting formalities. The January move helped in so many ways and still does. Some tennis powers want to move the alarm-clock tourney later in the year for reasons financial and physical; but will it do any better to rouse us in February or March?  Some players want a longer time off; they want tennis to be chiseled into a shorter season. They can get some rest, some much-desired off-court training or even some on-court revamping. Maybe have a relationship?  In Australia, we certainly have had a growing spectator following, which may be partially because of the summer event of the Open. These fans and players count. Millions of players and millions of dollars in revenue are at stake. Will the audience show up in Oz’s Autumn? When school starts up?
Does Tennis, as a brand, need to be more specific at the same time that baseball, basketball and football seasons are continuing to expand in number of teams, number of games and the number of playoffs?
I would like the Australian Open to stay where it is on the calendar. Not as a traditionalist, but as a pragmatist and competitor. I like the early challenge, I like to see the players progress (or not). Can they pace themselves? I like the potential for unpredictability….even though….
Our opening event to a new tennis year and decade, to me, went by the numbers….
But there were a few highlights:
Justine Henin is back: Inspired and inspiring some of the smaller players - anyone under 5’9” - and the one-handers. I am part of both categories.
The only wakeup call was what China sent to Melbourne: their female footprint on the sport and the Plexicushion. 
Some moments that stood out: Nadal tried and hurt; Federer flowed without tears; Davydenko’s light going dim after one shot; Serena grunted without death threats; Venus shrugged and smiled. Murray was ready and got put in his place at the end; Roddick’s shoulder.
Lots of tickets were sold. Many hits on-line. Business is good.
And we can now go week-to-week preparing for the short clay court season and Roland Garros. Here at TennisDiary we might get our calendiary to work. And we look forward to more writers’ blogs, comments and hits. On and off the court.