In the span of 24 hours, Ana Ivanovic went from being the No. 2 seed with a nice-looking draw at the Generali Ladies Linz, an International-level WTA tournament this week, to being the No. 3 seed in a packed half of the draw which includes Sloane Stephens. And she's not happy about it.
The tournament conducted the draw on Saturday, with No. 12 Stephens as the No. 1 seed and Ivanovic the No. 2 seed. On Sunday, the tournament announced it had given a wildcard to tenth-ranked Kerber. Though Kerber had seemingly used up her allotment of international-level tournaments when she played the Citi Open over the summer (top-10 players are permitted one International in each half of the season), that tournament wasn't held against her because of an exception that permits top players to play down to an international-level event if a premier tournament being held at the same time is oversubscribed. Kerber had initially wanted to play the Southern California Open in Carlsbad, Calif., but that tournament already had too many top-10 players so she was allowed to play the Citi Open instead.
Confused? It gets worse.
So how did the tournament have room in the draw for its new top seed? Someone had to pull out to make room for Kerber. Rather conveniently, Lisa-Maria Moser, a 22-year old Austrian ranked No. 337, pulled out of the tournament on Sunday citing "personal reasons". Based on the tournament's own statement on its website, it seems that the tournament asked her to give up her wild card in order to make room for Kerber.
It's not an uncommon occurrence for a draw to get reshuffled when a player withdraws after the draw is made. In fact, this week's tournament in Osaka experienced a similar problem when its top seed Jelena Jankovic withdrew on Sunday. But the Linz draw is now a mess. With Moser out and Kerber in as the No. 1 seed, Stephens, now the No. 2 seed, still tops the field in the top half of the draw. Kerber was put into Ivanovic's spot as the top seed in the bottom half, and Ivanovic was moved into Stephens' half of the draw, which includes Daniela Hantuchova, Dominika Cibulkova and Andrea Petkovic.
In a funny twist, Ivanovic and Moser were the player representatives at the tournament. Apparently Ivanovic's complaints about how the draw was reshuffled fell on deaf ears:
A few players re-tweeted Ivanovic's tweet, including Donna Vekic, who went from playing eighth-seeded Klara Zakopalova to fifth-seeded Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens.
And other players weighed in too:
Everything that happened is all well within the WTA rules, and the whole series of events was a perfect storm that had everyone digging through the WTA rulebook. But a tournament asking a low-ranked wildcard entrant to give back her wildcard in favor of a top player still leaves a bad taste.
A somewhat similar situation arose last year when the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Champions promised a wildcard to the No. 1 Arab player, Malek Jaziri of Tunisia, only to take it back and award it to three-time defending champion and No. 1 Novak Djokovic's younger brother Marko, who was ranked No. 867. At least in that situation the draw had not been made and no other players were affected by the decision. Moser probably wasn't going to win her first round match in Linz (she was set to play Stefanie Voegele), but she was going to make around $2,000 for her efforts, twice what she'll make with her doubles wildcard (interestingly, if Moser had withdrawn citing an injury she would have been ineligible for a doubles wildcard). It may not sound like much, but to a low-ranked player trying to fund her career, every little bit counts.