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Wozniacki sails after split with McIlroy

12/18/2014

Editor's note: For two weeks, starting Dec. 8, ESPN.com is unveiling its 2014 tennis awards once per day.

Dec. 8: Men's player of year | Dec. 9: Women's player of year | Dec. 10: Top men's matches | Dec. 11: Top women's matches | Dec. 12: Top shot-makers | Dec. 15: Top shots | Dec. 16: Top tirades | Dec. 17: Most mystifying moments | Dec. 18: Top on-court moments | Dec. 19: Top off-court stories

What happens on the court isn't all that happens in tennis. Here are some of the biggest developments around the game this season.

1. Surplus of super coaches

The trickle of former champions turning to coaching became a torrent this season, as players ranked high and low snapped up big names to work with them. The year began with men's Grand Slam champions such as Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic and Michael Chang taking up the reins, and more recently, women's champions such as Amelie Mauresmo, Lindsay Davenport and Martina Navratilova have joined them.

2. Increased prize money

The amount of prize money given at the Masters tournaments was the issue bubbling behind the scenes for much of this season. With tournament earnings at that level said to have increased 7 percent, double the projected amount, players wanted more than the 9 percent increases they previously had been getting. The tournaments resisted, and representatives of the two sides clashed fiercely and at ATP board meetings. The issue dragged on and on before a figure of 14 percent -- 11 percent from the tournaments, 3 percent from the ATP -- was approved this week, just before the new season begins. But things may not be settled even now. Reports say the tournaments have written to the ATP objecting to the increase.

3. Additional tennis leagues

The long-standing World Team Tennis league was joined by two newcomers this year -- the much-publicized International Tennis Premier League (ITPL), played between four teams from four Asian cities, and the lower-profile Champions Tennis League (CTL), played between teams in six Indian cities. The ITPL, organized by former doubles player Mahesh Bhupathi, received plenty of attention as it spent $24 million recruiting players and snagged top names such as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. The league attracted crowds at most sessions during its two-week run, and wants to become a regular competition during the offseason.

4. Kids and wives

A lot of top men had plenty happening off the court. Federer had a second set of twins, boys named Leo and Lenny. Djokovic married longtime girlfriend Jelena Ristic and had his first child, Stefan. And Andy Murray has announced he is engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Kim Sears.

5. WTA television production

The WTA has just signed a new deal with Perform Group to broadcast all 2,000 matches played on the tour each year, a big increase from the 700 that are currently on camera. The new arrangement also came with some eye-catching figures -- $525 million for 10 years -- that WTA CEO Stacey Allaster said will more than double the $21 million the tour and tournaments received through their previous agreement.

6. Breakups between high-profile athletes

Several high-profile WTA pairings dissolved during the season. Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy received the most publicity when McIlroy called off their engagement, but Maria Kirilenko and NHL player Alex Ovechkin, Victoria Azarenka and musician Redfoo, Petra Kvitova and Radek Stepanek also are no longer couples. And the unconfirmed relationship between Serena and coach Patrick Mouratoglou is now an unknown status as well.

7. Sharapova Inc. taking off

Maria Sharapova has had the spot of highest-earning women's athlete sewn up for a while now, but is also increasingly showing off her entrepreneurial instincts. The Russian was almost as visible at corporate events as on the court this year, making appearances for sponsors such as Porsche or her own candy company, Sugarpova -- and sometimes both at once. She also signed on for her own fragrance and took an investment position in a skincare company, as well as setting up a Sugarpova shop at Wimbledon and during the US Open. Though still well behind Federer and Rafael Nadal, her estimated $22 million in off-court earnings is double the $11 million Serena Williams is said to earn, and Sharapova earned herself another Grand Slam trophy this season as well.

8. Asia tournaments on the rise

Asian players were big this season, but so were tournaments. There are now 24 WTA events in Asia-Pacific, more than anywhere else, with eight played in China. The ATP is looking at more potential locations for the Tour Finals in London, with cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Doha and Abu Dhabi among the contenders for the event. And two new Asian-based leagues were launched this year, giving the region more tennis than ever.

9. The heat is on

The Australian Open saw temperatures of more than 100 degrees, with players cramping and collapsing on court. The tournament’s extreme-heat policy was put into effect, but not before players had criticized officials for not stopping play and Canadian Frank Dancevic dramatically complained of hallucinations. The heat policy was also in effect at the US Open. Shuai Peng, who had been one of the players who collapsed at the Australian Open, had to be wheeled off court following a breakdown during the semifinals. The Aussie Open has since announced a new heat policy, with play to be stopped at an even number of games or following a tiebreaker instead of to the completion of a set, and the referee is now required to consider stopping play when temperatures reach a high level.

10. Player development and national federations

There were new faces and new approaches among the national federations, with the full-scale, federation-controlled system giving way to more cooperation with private coaches. The former chief of Tennis Canada, Michael Downey, now leads the Lawn Tennis Association, which has pared back its National Training Centre. Tennis Australia has appointed Patrick Rafter in change of its development program. Patrick McEnroe is stepping down from his position at USTA player development, and while a new 100-court, $60 million facility is being built in Florida, there is no longer as much emphasis on players doing their training at USTA centers with USTA coaches.