Federer, Blake, Olympic Tennis a Tough Find
by Staff | August 14th, 2008, 7:21 pm

By Rick Jillson

It’s a good thing Roger Federer and the Williams sisters aren’t elite table tennis players. If they were, someone in the United States actually might have seen them compete (and I use that verb lightly) in today’s (Aug. 14) Olympic action.
Table tennis was televised this morning on MSNBC, along with men’s basketball, men’s volleyball, Greco-Roman wrestling, men’s beach volleyball, men’s handball, men’s water polo and badminton.

Synchronized diving? Check. 7:30 a.m. EST on Telemundo. I hope to never know what in the hell “team dressage” is, but I do know it is televised today on Oxygen.

As for Federer — the biggest name in men’s tennis — vs. James “the closest thing the United States has to a real professional tennis player who has never dated Mandy Moore” Blake, the match wasn’t available on my cable package. In fact, I have stayed up until I can’t see straight every night this week watching Flipper Feet Phelps and 8-year-old Chinese gymnasts and sand volleyball players dressed like rap video props compete for honor and country, and not only have I not seen a single moment of Olympic tennis, I haven’t heard the word tennis pass from the great Bob Costas’s lips.

Why, oh why is there zero interest in following the best tennis players in the world as they battle for gold? Is it because they play one another all the time anyway? Yeah, that’s part of it, I’m sure. Is it because the sport is dominated by athletes with powerful forehands and punchless personalities? Yes, I think that has something to do with it as well.

Maybe it’s also the fact that so many professional tennis players over the past two decades have seemed to care so little about country — treating Davis Cup like after-school detention and taking up shop in whatever nation allows them to live with the smallest tax burden. Maybe it’s because some of them tank matches so badly at times it invites criminal inquiry.

Whatever the reason, it’s a blessing that America missed Federer sleepwalking through a straight-sets loss to Blake, his first loss in nine career meetings. Perhaps Roger wanted to get it over with so he could settle in and catch some must-see TV.

Like men’s canoeing. At 8 p.m. Eastern on CNBC.

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21 Comments for Federer, Blake, Olympic Tennis a Tough Find

Shital Green Says:

Viewership wise, Tennis ranks 17th among the sports in America, no where near the top four Football, Baseball, Basketball, and Ice Hockey.

And they showed Blake-Federer match on USA right after the live was over on the NBC online streaming. The same channel showed earlier rounds of Federer, Nadal, and a few others. And I believe USA is included in most basic 69 channel packages.

funches Says:

Yeah, I love piling on televised tennis coverage as much as the next tennis fan, but USA Network did show the Federer-Blake match at 10 a.m. Eastern time. I’ve never heard of a basic cable package that excluded USA.

The Serena match was on MSNBC around 3 p.m.

claudia celestial girl Says:

Thanks! I feel the same way having stayed up every night this week, and glad to know about finding some tennis on USA channel! Just in time to try to capture Djokovic/Nadal on a screen larger than an index card.

FYI – ‘team dressage’ is a horse-back riding event (military precision). Equestrian events have been part of the Olympics since the dawn of time. Unlike, say … beach volleyball.

tennisontherocks Says:

The tennis matches in beijing start after 4 pm and yesterday were delayed by rain. So they miss the prime time in US. You can watch live streaming on nbcolympics.com.

Shital Green Says:

This is what I found:
Friday, August 15** UPDATES AS OF 8/14
5:00am – 8:00am: semifinals featuring Blake vs. Gonzalez – MSNBC
10:00am – 12:00pm: semifinals – USA = this is an old listing, I no longer see any tennis mentioned on the nbc schedule, but it’s worth a TIVO if you have space.
2:00pm – 5:00pm: semifinals featuring Nadal vs. Djokovic – MSNBC
6:00pm – 8:00pm: semifinals (perhaps the Williams sisters in doubles action?) – Oxygen

And there is always live streaming at nbcolympic.com.
I think Nadal-Djoko match will begin at around 8:00 am (EST).

Hypnos Says:

I, as a tennis fan, care about Olympic tennis as much as the players do.

Maybe I’m not that patriotic (read: jingoistic), but I care more about the US Open run-up tournaments.

I also wish the ATP had a better pre-Wimbledon rather than one grass tune-up, but that’s another topic … (make Hamburg grass!)

Shital Green Says:

My last post above is dedicated to Von and Rick.

Von Says:

Shital Green:

“My last post above is dedicated to Von and Rick.”

Thanks a bunch!! Is it any wonder that you’re one of my favourite posters on Tennis-X. ) Now I can set my DVR to record at the times mentioned, and watch those that are compatible with my work schedle live. I’m in heaven!

Rick, I see that you suffer from the same ‘malady’ as I — insufficient TV tennis coverage. I don’t mind watching Phelps’ many gold medal wins, or the gymnasts, but I’m tired of the other large ball sports. Maybe we could complain to the powers that be, but you know the saying “No use complaining, because nobody listens.” And, that’s the truth!!

Shital Green Says:

Supplement to the TV schedule. I hope this stays the same.

Saturday, August 16
4:00am – 10:30 am: MEDAL MATCHES – USA (L)
4:00am: men’s doubles gold/men’s and women’s singles bronze
6:00am: women’s singles gold

Sunday, August 17
4:00am – 10:30 am: MEDAL MATCHES – USA (L)
4:00am: men’s singles gold
6:00am: women’s doubles gold

Mary Says:

NBC paid the Chinese mega-millions to televise gymnastics and swimming live on the East Coast– I love that decision.
The live tennis schedule is geared towards Europe that’s fine, I prefer the no announcer internet broadcasts.

I do want to give Blake props for kissing the US flag patch on his shirt when he won.

“Maybe it’s also the fact that so many professional tennis players over the past two decades …”
This, coupled with tanking matches, drugs, and no-shows, is what kept me away from watching for many years.Even now I avoid watching a decent number of the players, more on the women’s side.
I find people know about the sport, but don’t want to sit through a good many half-assed matches.
Phelps is coming on, USA!

Larry Says:

Nascar is the second most popular sport after football – way more viewers than baseball or basketball.http://everythingbutthegame.blogspot.com/2007/07/overnight-sports-nielsen-tv-ratings_31.html

Shital Green Says:

Sorry, I did not count cow tipping, horseshoe, rodeo, drag racing, poker, fantasy sports, and the like.

freakyfrites Says:

The tennis schedule is really tough to master – even nbc’s website can be confusing. You go to the t.v. listings page on the website and sort by “tennis” and it leaves MSNBC out. So then I sort the schedule by MSNBC and see that it’s showing tennis! So annoying. It’s a constant battle to keep updated. I’m trying to do so on my blog (thanks, Shital, for spreading the word.)

Just wanted to add that as much as we love tennis, it’s on t.v. almost every weekend and even has an entire channel devoted to it. I don’t mind if stuff like swimming, gymnastics, and even beach volleyball is fun to watch once every four years. . .

Shital Green Says:


You’re welcome.

JCF Says:

I just read Blake’s post-match interview, and he said that even though Federer has fallen to No.2, he still thinks Federer is the No.1 player and favorite for US Open. Tursunov said the same thing. I do have to wonder what Nadal actually has to do to be considered the No.1 player in the world in the locker room, or if it’s even possible. Hewitt does believe Rafa is No.1 (at the moment), but will even a US Open title for Rafa be enough to convince other players he’s No.1? Will it take 12 GS titles perhaps? Does he have to put on 4.5 years of dominance of the same level as Federer did? If this is the case, will there ever be a No.1 player after Federer?

Perhaps Blake is referring to talent rather than results. Again, as long as Federer is an active player, no one is going to be No.1 despite their ranking points. I read rankings from the ATP site and points board. I don’t reinterpret it subjectively like these guys.

I don’t think Roger Federer will regain his top ranking this year, even if he wins the US Open. But I do see him making his charge for it next year. I had a suspicion pre-Olympics that Fed was not going to win a gold medal, and my suspicion now is that he won’t win the US Open either, but anything can happen. For that matter, my tentative pick for the US Open is Murray or some surprise package.

thatguy Says:

Tennis really shouldn’t be in the Olympics for a number of reasons. The foremost reason being that the Olympics seem to be more about political grandstanding and drug scandals rather than sport.

The second reason is that the Slams outweigh gold by a long way. I mean Nadal winning at Wimbledon fair and square, with camera flashes exploding like stars around him holding that gorgeous trophy in the pitch dark! No drug scandals. No allegations of skulduggery and bribes. No question of integrity, and who was the better man on the day. C’mon. The Olympics are an overblown sideshow compared to that.

Tennis by its very nature exults individual skills above all. There’s no room for overbearing countries and their insipid egos.

freakyfrites Says:

JCF – I think that Murray’s going to win, too! Don’t know why, but I do.

In terms of the press conference talk I think that’s it’s a kind of “protection thing.” Roger’s built up so much respect over the years and the stand-up players don’t want to diss Fed in public. After all, he’s stood up for Andy Roddick, Hewitt and many other players when they’ve had bad results.

They all know that Rafa’s number one.

freakyfrites Says:

By the way, now the nbcolympics website is showing Nadal vs. Djokovic starting at 12:30pm on MSNBC (August 15.) Obviously taped not live. Or it could be Cuba vs. USA in baseball! Sigh. . .

Shital Green Says:

Von, Rick, and freakyfrites,
Yes,the updated schedule is
12:30pm – 5:00pm: Nadal vs. Djokovic semi on MSNBC

Nicky Smith Says:

haha…tennis in the US sucks.
Roddick is a has-been and Blake is a crybaby.
What’s the point in covering losers??

Pros shouldnt be competing in the Olympics anyways.

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