Happy Moanday X-fans. Time to talk Federer’s defeat, TTC’s coverage, the team approach to tennis, Serena’s new reality adventure, and the USTA’s newest accessory item.
Federer’s Loss: With the combined trifecta ejection of Federer, plus Marat Safin and Lleyton Hewitt yesterday, the Men’s draw got a little bit less interesting for some, but a whole lot interesting for others.
Those of us who weren’t there can only imagine the electricity and whispers in the air — no less the lockerroom — after Fed’s loss. My sympathies to Tournament Director Steve Simon, who was probably already feeling queasy about the less-than-stellar Women’s draw.
It’s always a little disconcerting to see the world’s number one lose, which arguably isn’t often with our current men’s history-maker, but yesterday seemed a little too surreal. Shortly after Roger let loose at his presser the other day that he had a hit with Pete Sampras in LA, I remembered that Fed-man’s real entree onto the tennis scene was when he broke Pete’s 31-match winning streak at Wimbledon in 2001. Just a bizarre coincidence? Probably, but an interesting footnote nonetheless.
I’ll leave it up to the X-fans to make what you will of the world number one’s loss, and will only add this: I was a bit surprised at how well he handled it.
If you saw the match, two calls to bring the trainer out made you think that he was going into his press conference to say that his feet were bothering him. Hells, I think that in almost any other sport an athlete would probably do just that. But despite his loss, Roger made no excuses — he simply gave Canas credit for a match well played. Granted, it’s not often that you see Federer call for the trainer, so that in and of itself was a bit weird, but he went on to play doubles with Yves Allegro like no big whoop.
Tennis Channel Coverage: As someone who routinely criticizes The Tennis Channel for their coverage shortcomings, I want to go on record here to say that they did a good job at Indian Wells. The angles were good, the shots were good, and even the commentators didn’t make me want to throw shoes. Also, maybe I’m in the minority here, but I actually like the court-level camera angle quite a bit. I can’t say as much about “the net cam” they used in Vegas, which was rather YouTube-esque in quality, but I will give two snaps for innovation ((snap, snap)).
Anyway, of course, I gotta add a few caveats/criticisms.
The first being that for whatever bizarre reason, TTC decided to start airing matches on Saturday rather than Friday, when main draw action began. That was a real let down, most notably due to the early ejection of wildcard Guga Kuerten. Word: Some of us might have liked to have seen that. As I perused the OOP that I was missing, I noted four or five matches that I would have liked to have seen. Ho well….
Secondly, I’m obviously not privy to the contract for coverage that the PTB at TTC arranged for this tournament, but here’s a freebie idea I’d like to pass along: Show the qualifiers! At an event like Indian Wells the qualies would be a most welcome programming add-on. Some of us tennis fans wouldn’t mind the opportunity to watch Canas play Jan-Michael Gambill. Really, I can name 5 other matches, but I’ll leave it there. It’s not like we’ll be missing another rerun of Center Court with Chris Meyers (did I use that ref last time? I forget…sorry if so).
Lastly (though I may be forgetting something), how about some outside court action? The weekend was particularly tough for scheduling versus broadcasting, with matches on outside courts starting play at 10am and the broadcast lighting up at 11am with stadium action. Can’t they handy-cam it to the outer courts, or for that matter, throw it to the outer courts once play have ended in the stadiums?
Maybe these are contract and logistical issues, but they’re worth noting from the fan perspective. I feel like I’m like a one-woman focus group for TTC, and if you want to add your .02, please do chime in.
Team Tennis: If you haven’t checked it out yet, Rafael Nadal’s website was relaunched on Saturday. You might remember that it hooked up with the fan forum VamosRafael.com a few months ago. I checked it out yesterday. They did a great job on the site, which is now as buff as the man himself!
One interesting thing that admittedly blew me away. I took a gander at “Rafa’s Team”, which surprisingly consists of six people — three of whom are press agents. Jeez, must be nice. Also bear in mind that this number simply includes his business people, there’s no Uncle Toni on this list. I hate to make this comparison, but I must — “Team Federer” includes his manager Tony Godsick and his mom, who is managing his foundation. We can safely add to this the guy who runs his website, and of course, Mirka. Pretty crazy, particularly since both Rafa and Roger are IMG clients.
Part of what made me think of this was that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the work of SI’s newest blogger, Lisa Raymond. Last week she talked a bit about the influx of “teams”:
The lack of camaraderie and friendship among the players and tour is because the Gen Y-ers are told to associate and surround themselves only with their “team” — a term coined by this new generation. Their mantra has become, “Stay inside your bubble at all times; otherwise you lose your edge.”
As recently as 10 years ago, things were dramatically different. Sure, we had our share of parents with their young prodigies. Monica Seles, Steffi Graf and Jennifer Capriati all had their fathers traveling with them, but they were in the minority back then. Wow, how things have changed!
It’s an interesting perspective from an elder
stateswoman? stateslady? player on the tour. It’s also a weird by-product of tennis’ coming of age. I’m sure we all hope that all this player mind-massaging doesn’t turn out an industry of well-coiffed and rehearsed automatons, but only time will tell. I rest easy knowing that we’ll still have the occassional dramatic peek behind the curtain and players who can human it up for us with statements like, “Sooner or later it had to happen, so it’s okay [to lose]. It’s no problem.”
Roadtrips and Reality TV: Lastly, I’ll leave you with a couple gossipy tidbits.
Apparently the USTA and their ad agency have come up with an accessory item for the US Open Series — a big blue bus. Last week they shot ads with a bunch of players, including Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, and Roger Federer in California. They’ll start running these ads on TV and in print during Wimbledon. The idea, of course, is to extend the notion of their “Greatest Roadtrip in Sports”, with a bus on a roadtrip across America.
Now here’s the kicker: The bus won’t be on the tour this year since they just came up with the idea a little while ago. Seems it takes more than 4 months for the USTA to organize a roadtrip.
I can’t make up a joke big enough to give that justice, so I call upon the X-fans to go for it.
Lastly, I hear tell that Serena Williams is taking part in — I kid not — some kind of celebrity NASCAR reality show that will begin airing on ABC in June. Apparently celebs go through time trials in racing cars to advance. One of the other contestants will be William Shatner, so you know it has to be good.
Enjoy the rest of the Pacific Life Open this week.
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