The powers that be in tennis have a great track record of making the sport as hard to see as possible. In the U.S. the USTA sells the Davis Cup rights to the Versus network, who then shows it on tape. On Saturday night, with the blockbuster Andy Roddick vs. Andy Murray match at the ATP event in San Jose, it was FOX Sport’s turn to hold tennis hostage.
The Saturday semifinal, on live at 10 p.m. EST, was according to an industry source restricted to the FOX network in the California Bay Area and select other regions. It sure as hell wasn’t available on Comcast in Florida, possibly the entire East Coast?
If you wanted to see sports done right, at the same time you could have clicked over to TNT and the NBA All-Stars skills contest or whatever crazy pre-All-Star game crap that was. Whether you knew the players or not it was enthralling — Shaq wasn’t even participating but he was courtside dressed like a pimp. Giant yellow suit, yellow hat. At a tennis all-star event that could be Roger Federer, too good to need to participate, but pimped-out in a lawn chair courtside. The whole event was exciting, the crowd was loving it, and it made you wonder what tennis could be. A mini-version of that goes on at the Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day at the US Open, and the crowd loves it.
But back to again not being able to see great tennis on TV. I actually did get to see that match because the San Jose website is offering a live feed for $10 a pop. And since my computer monitor is about the size of a garage door, it didn’t look too bad either. Sure it was just the live feed with no graphics, and a one-man commentating show, with the score not offered often enough, but it was live tennis. And a pinnacle match for Roddick.
It’s safe to say that Murray is now a better player that Roddick, probably a better player than many of those ranked ahead of him. It will be a mouthwatering meeting when the two face each other on grass for the revenge-seeking American.
Roddick didn’t have Jimmy Connors in his corner at San Jose, but his coach was text messaging him to be more aggressive, which against someone like Murray means watching a lot of passing shots go by. Roddick’s serve, while still awe-inspiring, for whatever reason isn’t at the video-game-silly level it used to be, and he is routinely out-aced by opponents. Saturday night, Murray struck 14 aces to Roddick’s nine.
Connors still has some work to do with his pupil, especially on the backhand side. While Roddick’s two-hander is much improved, against Vince Spadea in the quarterfinals he was regularly missing passing shots, shots he had time to set up for, by the width of the doubles alley. Shots that make 4.5-level players say, ‘I could do that.’
The San Jose final is an all-Murray family affair, with brother Jamie also in the doubles final beside American partner Eric Butorac.
Thank you B2 Network, let’s hope other tournaments offer fans live feeds to make up for the inept U.S. scheduling and get tennis “on the air.”
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