If a tennis fan was compelled to choose a week in which to fall desperately ill – whatever affliction I was initially blighted with was soon supplemented by an especially heinous Egyptian curse – then this is undoubtedly the week for it. There’s no reason for me to care less about whoever wins Vienna’s whimsically named Erste Bank Open than any other 250 event of commensurate standing, but there you go. I do care less than I should, and I probably couldn’t care less than I do. The ATP website is trying to drum up some interest around Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s qualification bid for the Tour Finals, and thereby lend the event some relevance, but their heart isn’t really in it. The same mostly goes for the St Petersburg Open, which is held in St Petersburg, although I suppose it’ll be amusing if Janko Tipsarevic claims his third career title. Alas, or thankfully, I have seen none of it, having been far too sick even to watch tennis, let alone play it. Perhaps it’s the medication talking – and late in the evening it croons – but I suspect that even in the bloom of health I would be hard pressed to load up a stream.
Why this should is so is no great mystery. It’s a lot of little things. The WTA tour finals are under way in Istanbul. There are no top male players in action for another week. Neither the Vienna nor St Petersburg events boast an especially intriguing history, unlike, say, Stockholm last week. There is a real sense that the Tour is marshalling its resources for a push to the end of the season. Basel thus always seems like a bigger deal than it is. It feels like the year’s final movement commences there (and in Valencia). Vienna by comparison feels like the orchestra tuning up, perhaps an unfair metaphor for the city that nurtured such symphonists as Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner and Mahler. By the time the Tour Finals come around we will be in full tutti once more, with the inevitably strange coda of the Davis Cup final to come, this year inflected by tango and flamenco. Something to look forward to, from this week without music.