Monday, June 30, 2008

An Airing of Grievance

I'm usually not one to gripe about the America-centrism of network tennis coverage -- it sucks a lot of the time, yes, but I'm an adult and I can grasp that the economic realities of getting casual sports fans to watch tennis at all means a steady diet of American players and the select few foreign rock stars (Federer, Nadal, Sharapova).

That being said, NBC can go suck a bag of lemons. Mario Ancic comes back from two sets down to win 13-11 in the fifth set, and NBC only cuts in to show us the last three points, and only after having to watch Serena Williams plod her way through a 6-3 6-3 snoozer. Ancic's story is a great one -- he's on the comeback trail after a year's worth of injuries -- and the reason I know it's great is because ESPN actually aired his last match and told me about it. It's a sad day when I can look to ESPN as the better option for sports coverage.

It's actually been a pretty enjoyable Wimbledon thus far. Upsets like crazy, which usually would deplete the talent pool for the second week, but the way it's shaking out here is that a whole lot of second- and third-tier players -- who are dynamite players on grass -- are getting their chance at the spotlight. [see photo below] Provided NBC actually airs their matches. And of course, this only applies to the men's draw. The women's draw is a hodgepodge of women I kind of don't care about, waiting to get steamrolled by the Williamses.

Anybody else watching Wimbledon this year? Talk it up in the comments.

Top(l-r): Marat Safin, Janko Tipsarevic, Feliciano Lopez, Mario Ancic
Bottom (l-r): Marin Cilic, Rafael Nadal, Stanislas Wawrinka, Richard Gasquet


Grunt said...

I think the women's draw is just much more interesting this year. With the retirement of Henin there is an opening at the top and no one seems to be able to fill it. Of the people in the quarterfinals NONE of the top 4 seeds made it, and 2 unseeded players are still in the running.

The men, on the other hand, you have Nadal, Federer, and everyone else. It's all very exciting, except, unless it's something other than a Federer/Nadal final, it's not exciting at all. I'm really exited for Safin and all, but he'll never make it passed the semis.

It's not that all the crummy American Men are out (and I can't for the life of me figure out how James Blake is a top 10 player when he seems to suck so hard at every major, and I LOVE James Blake), it's that it hardly matters since we're just going to have a 1&2 final, like we did at the open, and like we would have had at the Australian (except it was a 1&3 final instead).

Joe Reid said...

See, I see it exactly the opposite. None of the remaining women's quarterfinalists is all that interesting to me, save Tanasugarn and possibly Vaidisova (though after hearing she's dating that assface Radek Stepanek she's on thin ice), and the Williams/Williams final is just as assured as Federer/Nadal. Only the difference is, Federer/Nadal is going to be a fantastic match with about 18 different subplots and huge drama. A Williams/Williams final, history tells me, is going to be a colossal bore with no real rooting interest (for me at least).

On the men's side...well, it looked a little sunnier before today's results when the younger journeymen were beaten back some by the older journeymen. They've still got some good stories, Scheuttler and Clement and especially Ancic and Safin, but I would have rathered see Tipsarevic and Wawrinka and Cilic ascend.

I think what you're gonna see on the men's side is some fantastic tennis (Safin/Lopez could be a barnburner) played before, yes, another Rafa/Roger final. But one for the ages, we can hope. And along the way, if I get to see Nadal beat the tar out of Andy Murray, so much the better.

par3182 said...

we have a similar problem down here - after waiting up until 11pm for the start of play all we get is the lleyton hewitt show - with the expectation that every aussie is barracking for him (not me, he disgusts me with his poor sportsmanship) and our commentators (ex champs john newcombe and fred stolle) blow their loads over him. meanwhile, we're offered a glimpse of other matches at match point

thankfully he's been dispatched and we'll get to see other games (though fred & john will still be talking about him)

as for the women's side, i'm hoping tammy tanasugarn can keep going - i love the journeymen/women players

Bo said...

I've been consumed by futbol until yesterday. Now I need to get back into the tennis, which would normally have had me riveted.

I love Ancic (sat next to him watching his little sister play as a junior at the US Open one time at an outside court--so so cute). It's too bad he won't face Safin to have a big brother matchup.

And Murray has the Brits all wacko, which will make it fun when he loses, as Brits always do these days, and the commentators get all misty about it.

Williams Williams is so boring as to be intentionally avoided at all costs. They should always be seeded in the same side of the draw so they can never meet and ruin another final! (I love saying Tanasugarn, Vaidisova, and Radwanska!)

Anonymous said...

I'm watching and loving it. Can't wait for the sexy qf between Safin and Lopez. Nice to see these two doing something with their talent. And even nicer that newly minted lawyer Ancic is on the mend and his countryman Cilic is starting to play very well. On the women's side, it does seem we're waiting around for the inevitable Williams final. But in the meantime, I've been glad to see Radwanska playing deep into the draw.

Deirdre said...

Must be even worse for the soccer fans. I have no idea what ESPN's or Fox Sports' coverage has been like, and I've been lucky enough to see almost every game at work on either TSN or Sportsnet. I understand ABC showed the final. But with the U.S. by definition excluded from the Euro Cup, where have you all been getting your soccer fix?

Joe Reid said...

I only saw two Euro matches, but both were aired live on ESPN. Not sure how things were handled in the earlier rounds.

Am I crazy to think Zheng Jie has a shot against Serena on Thursday? She seems like such a tiny little powerhouse.

JS said...

I was watching Jie and am amazed at how aggressive-minded she is. I kept thinking, "is she auditioning to be the new Justine Henin....... or long lost Williams Sister?"

Agreed about another Williams/Williams final. Got nothing against them but all their finals have gotten nothing but polite applause from me. There's just something missing when they face each other.

Regarding coverage, the channel that covers Wimbledon is an Indian network so they have a policy to show Asian players no mater who else is playing. We all end up wishing Mirza would lose early. I wanted to watch Nadal vs. Gulbis but they showed Zvonareva vs. Tanasugarn instead which of course went to three sets. They still showed Nadal vs. Gulbis but only after the first set where pretty much all the dramatic and exciting parts occurred. Thai Airways is one of the channel's sponsors so I guess they HAD to show Tanasugarn's match.

Oh and I call her "Girl Who Dates Thunder Lips" ever since we found out about her and Stepanek. Still can't call her by her real name.

Anonymous said...

I know I"m supposed to talk about tennis, but who do you think is the sexiest male tennis stars? Personally, I love my tall, dark, handsome Super Mario Ancic, and of course the King Federer. I know a lot of people love Nadal and Djokovic, I just think Nadal's muscles are sexier than his face and voice (but his passion is equally sexy).

Joe Reid said...

Oh, if I must...

Nadal's it for me -- sure his face that, but the rest of him more than make up for it. Djokovic has that personality and eagerness to take his shirt off. Feliciano Lopez and David Ferrer both make me want to move to Spain. And Wawrinka and Tipsarevic are a couple of really promising newbies.

Oh, and Roddick and Blake. Gotta give it up for the home team.