So I come back from vacation – even though it was to visit the in-laws, going from Michigan to Arizona this time of year is usually a good thing! – and what happens? Roger practices with Pete. Roger then loses his Indian Wells opener to Guillermo Canas. Coincidence? Hmm…
Actually I was back in time for the Guillermo Canas win yesterday, but like a lot of you readers I still don’t get the Tennis Channel.
As for the win itself, from what I remember of Canas pre-suspension and from what I’ve read today, it sounds like Canas is still the premier human backboard on the tour. And what happened to Federer usually happens when you’re making a lot of errors against a human backboard, you lose.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, tennis is pretty simple when you break it down to its core: If you can get every ball back you can’t lose, unless of course you are playing a duplicate of yourself.
So is this the beginning of the end for Federer? Is his dominating days over like his streak? Did Pete put a hex on Roger during their practice sessions last week? No, no and probably.
Who knows what went on during those practice sessions, but I doubt after yesterday’s result Roger’s going to be hitting with Pete anytime soon, especially before a big event. They might not all say it, but these guys are superstitious to some extent. And when your Roger Federer and you haven’t lost an opener at a tournament in 2 1/2 years (2004 Cincinnati) I’m pretty sure he’ll take a second look at his preparation and figure out what he did differently.
In the grand scheme of things, though, this loss isn’t going to cause Fed to lose a lot of sleep I don’t think. I know he had a streak on the line, but Fed’s eyes are still on the French, and better to lose to Canas at IW then at Roland Garros. (Yes, you could make the argument if Roger can’t beat Guillermo on hard court how the hell is he going to be him on clay. True, but we have a long way to go before that possibility presents itself, so for now I’ll avoid it.)
To follow-up on the Las Vegas round-robin debacle, after hearing from a few of the top guys during IW, looks like this thing is going to be six-feet under in a few weeks.
Said, Federer: “I just thought there was too many problems with the whole system, and so I’m happy it kind of arise a problem. And unfortunately, you know, it always takes a few players involved that everybody kind of wakes up. It took a half a year, not even, to get the problem because they already start in the beginning the year.”
Said Roddick: “Personally, I think we’ve seen the last of it. You know, I don’t see how you can get around, you know, pull-outs, going to a match and having to win five games and hit three dropshots to advance to the quarters and, you know, a million other things.”
Said Blake: “My personal opinion, [the round robin] shouldn’t be anymore. Leave it for the Master’s Cup and that’s it.”
Said me: It’s dead.
And that is hopefully the last we see of that format in larger fields. I think it works in an eight-man format, but anything over 16 players and I think you’re headed for trouble.
I applaud ET for thinking it up, but I also think he needs to read the rulebook before he puts his next plan into action.
Back to Tennis Channel. An old college buddy on mine who lives in Sacramento called me complaining that the Tennis Channel wasn’t showing any coverage Friday so he missed one of his all-time favs Guga in action. I told him he should be thankful that that he didn’t have to see Guga try to rekindle his past only to lose (again), and to remember that just because it’s called the Tennis Channel doesn’t mean that they show live tennis from all the events 24/7.
For the Tennis Channel to cover just about any event it will cost them money. Tournaments like Indian Wells, Miami, Wimbledon, etc, sell the rights to their coverage to TV channels for big bucks. They don’t give it away for free.
Optimally, the events want the most number of television viewers possible, meaning they’d love have networks like CBS, NBC and ABC telecast their tournaments because they are in the most households. But those networks clearly don’t think it’s profitable buying into tennis, so they pass. ESPN with its 1,000 or so channels then steps up and buys the rights to many of the big events like Indian Wells, Miami and the Slams. After that, at least here in the U.S., you get the lower tiers like Vs., Fox and the Tennis Channel battling it out.
As for the Tennis Channel, just look at the other major sports channels and compare. The Golf Channel just started coverage of early rounds from PGA Tour events this year (so I’m told). The NFL Network has shown a grand total of eight live regular season NFL games, or roughly 24 hours of live NFL coverage since its launch a few years ago. And does the NBA TV even show any live games? They probably do, but the bottom line is just because your channel is named after a sport doesn’t mean that you are going to be showing live coverage of that sport 24/7. It’s easy to make that mistake in thinking that they will, but in the end in order to do so those channels will have to pony up the cash just like everyone else to get the broadcast rights.
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Pete Sampras Has Lost His Tennis Trophies?
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