The “intercontinental clash” theme is now part of the world’s football calendar with the FIFA Cub World Cup underway in December featuring the champions of each confederation doing battle. The tennis world, on the other hand, is getting in on the act.
The first Clash of the Continents tournament took place in Singapore this past weekend with representatives from Europe, South America, North America and Asia vying for the inaugural title.
Organizers are hoping that this will become a fixture of the tennis year, and with $520,000 in prize money up for grabs, that hope is a distinct possibility. It remains to be seen if that happens.
One problem is that the timing of the tournament comes at the end of a long season.
Janko Tipsaverić, the representative for Europe, said upon his arrival that the tennis season is too long.
"The season is definitely long, and tennis players need to use almost every part of their body while playing the game,” said the Serbian player. “Apart from it being a tough mental sport, physically all aspects need to be top notch."
It is hard to say if the tournament has a bright future. There wasn’t a huge deal of international media interest at a time when there is so much going on in the world of sport.
That is not the only problem as the first competition ended in anti-climax due to the fact that the final between Tipsaverić and Asia’s challenger, Kei Nishikori, did not happen. Nishikori had to withdraw from the final with an injury.
"I hurt my wrist playing against (American Sam) Querry yesterday, and my doctors recommended I sit out the match today because the season starts early next year," said Nishikori in a personal address to the fans at Singapore Indoor Stadium. "I am really frustrated. I really wanted to play because a lot of fans showed up."
That gave Europe the first title. Tipsaverić defeated Argentina’s Juan Monaco in the semi-final.
Europe is currently riding high in men’s tennis with the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray the top four players in the world.
Asia has still to make its mark in a big or consistent way, but according to Monaco, who is the world number 12 player, the future for the continent is bright despite the bad luck suffered by Nishikori.
“Asian tennis is also growing because guys like Nishikori give more confidence and hope to others going into professional tennis and that is very important.”
As for this attempt to introduce an inter-continental tournament, the jury is still out.