Mixed Bag Monday
by Lynn Berenbaum | March 12th, 2007, 5:24 pm
  • 14 Comments

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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Andy Murray at Hopman Cup: “I Didn’t Feel Very Fit Today, Hopefully That Will Improve”
Andy Roddick Says “Ask The Boss Lady” Serena About Playing Olympic Mixed Doubles

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14 Comments for Mixed Bag Monday

penise Says:

canas: dirtballer du jour/early fav for the french

heitt loses to Gabsvilli who gets a bagel in the next round . . . ouch. beerme called hewitt’s demise 2 years ago; i dboubted/i was wrong

what ever happened to beerme anyway?


Suzy Q Says:

Hi Lynn,

Nice to see a female presence on this site, and one that knows how to write as well!

I like your post, but I must “chime in” correct you when you write about the Tennis Channel. As best I know, they actually do not control the cameras, commentators, schedules, etc. TTC is only taking the on-site ATP “world feed” as their source input broadcasting it over their network. From the telecasts you will note no TTC logos or graphics anywhere, and now mention of TTC from the commentators, Doug Adler, Robbie Koenig, etc.

Their lack of Friday coverage may have been because the world feed was not yet operation, though I’m just guessing.

Las Vegas, on the other hand, was televised by the TTC as will the French Open. Between now and then whenever you hear those commentators or see those “ATP Masters Series” graphics you are watching programming from the world feed as opposed to the channel it’s being shown, which here in the U.S. is usually TTC.

Hope that helps.


Lynn Berenbaum Says:

Interesting note Suzy Q.

I hadn’t really processed the fact that this is ATP Master Series TV… Probably because they actually do have the TTC logo everywhere. The chyron is definitely ATPMS-TV though, so that makes sense.

I’m also awed by the quality. This is a marked improvement over Vegas, where TTC was using a multitude of cameras that made it look like a HS A/V project. Regardless, I’m grateful.

I’m glad you enjoyed the post. :)


ThinAir Says:

I suspect this loss will eventually favor Fedman because he will be fresher for the clay season. He was very lucky to get back to his winning ways at the Gerry Weber (Halle – Grass) Open and Wimbledon after losing the French Open last year. He wouldn’t want test his luck again this year.


Prism Says:

Roger lost to Canas and straightaway went to play doubles.I think Roger read Canas’ interview before giving his own after his doubles win and formualated his answers carefully to avoid the slur of gamesmanship. Some journo said something about Roger’s two timeouts being unfair to Canas in Canas’ interview. So Roger dodged that (unfair) accusation by saying that those timeouts affected his own rhythm.

How likely is it that Roger already read Canas’ interview before doing his own?

Trivia – When was it that Roger lost in a round other than the first two rounds or the final? I can think of the semis in 2005 Australian and French Open tournaments. Any other instances?


claireg Says:

Oh lord. You mean that isn’t even the Tennis Channel broadcasting?? I’m with you Lynn, I really thought they had just improved themselves. There are TC logos all over it and I could have sworn I heard them talking about TC stuff. I may be conditioned tho ;) But, honestly, how are they going to cover the French if they have the ATP doing their homework for them? I’m scared!

That’s funny about the USTA and even funnier about Serena. Was one reality show enough for her? Clearly not. Maybe she and Venus should do Amazing Race!


John Says:

One clue that it was an ATP broadcast is that there was no mention of the WTA. It’s as if IW is a men’s only event. My guess is that this will change when the TV coverage switches from the TC to ESPN2.


backhander Says:

” 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. ”

Very interesting. Looks like the laws of karma finally paid Federer a visit and he got his cumuppance. About time.


Skorocel Says:

Prism, do you remember last year’s Monte Carlo finals? Some players choose those medical timeouts ONLY to disrupt the opponent’s rhythm (e.g. a certain 20-year old guy from Mallorca), whereas a for such a class act like Roger, it’s only disturbing, no matter who chooses the timeout… I’m not saying Federer is the fairest sportsman on the planet or something, but please refresh your memory before you say something in the future, OK?


Prism Says:

Djokovic is famous for unfair use of timeouts and Federer criticised him for that a couple of times, I remember. For me unfair is when the timeouts are excessive in number or amount of time is huge in proportion that it’s almost illegal but not quite. Djokovic was such a case…

I think here (in IW) Roger was embarassed to find out that it takes such a long time for the trainer to come out on to the court and he was as much negatively affected by the delay as Canas. But you got to give him huge credit for the amount of time and energy he spends in getting to know whats happening in the game around him (if he read Canas’ interview — he usually reads other players’ interviews) and also giving interviews in no less than 3 languages most ot the time for hours together. Is that fair or something better than fair, you decide. He works as hard or harder than anyone, that’s for sure.


allcourt Says:

I assumed that it was the ATP feed mainly because of the total absence of any women’s matches or any mention of the fact that there are actually women playing in IW this week.


michela Says:

Well it seems like an honest mistake since it’s not like ESPN is showing women’s matches either. They blew off a live qf to show a tape of Roddick and Gasquet today!!

Plus the women’s draw only got exciting when Moneybags got knocked out. They probably already had her name engraved on the trophy and everything.

Go Pe’er!!


John Says:

FYI

Since no women’s matches have been shown in the US, here are the QF matches (with rankings):

Note: There are only two top ten players left and only one will make it to the SF.

Na Li (17) def Vera Zvonareva (20) 6-4, 7-5
Shahar Peer (16) vs Daniela Hantuchova (18)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (5) vs Nicole Vaidisova (10)
Tatiana Golovin (19) vs Sybille Bammer (46)

Based on rankings, the SF should be:
Shahar Peer (16) vs Na Li (17)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (5) vs Tatiana Golovin (19)

Then, the Final should be:
Svetlana Kuznetsova (5) vs Shahar Peer (16)

Then, the winner should be Svetlana Kuznetsova.


John Says:

Kudos to ESPN2 for their coverage of the Haas/Gonzalez match (2am ET). I expected a Roddick rerun. Haas and Gonzo played great. Excellent match.

Top story: Isner Upset (Literally) In Washington; Serena Returns With A Roar In Stanford, Azarenka-Venus Tonight
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