Abu Dhabi Day One, Ideas for Improving Your Tennis Commentary in 2010

by Ben Pronin | December 31st, 2009, 2:31 pm

Capitala World Tennis Championship: The 2010 tennis season is finally underway and even though two exhibition matches have been played, we already have a surprising result. David Ferrer beat Nikolay Davydenko 2-6 6-2 6-4 in Abu Dhabi to set up a meeting with compatriot Rafael Nadal. This is absolutely shocking to be because Ferrer was extremely close to losing to Radek Stepanek on clay courts in Spain whereas Davydenko is coming off a phenomenal run in London. They’ve been replaying his final against Del Potro on Tennis Channel and I just can’t wrap my head around this result. But it’ll be particularly interesting to see how Ferrer and Nadal play each other, considering Ferrer has had good results against Nadal on hard courts.

On the other side of the draw, Robin Soderling edged out Stanislas Wawrinka to set up his 13th counter with the better Swiss, Roger Federer. This result was expected but Soderling blew a 5-1 lead in the first set and a 5-4 lead in the second before securing a 7-6 7-6 victory. Perhaps he is feeling some pressure but not enough to lose. Nonetheless, I’m going with Soderling upsetting Federer and then taking out Nadal in the final.

Commentators: Now with every tennis match played there is commentating to be done. I’ve read so many comments and articles about how people prefer to watch tennis with the mute button on but they still miss the sound of the ball. Unfortunately, if you’re watching tennis on TV, you either hear everything or nothing. So I want to give the commentators a couple of tips before the year really takes off.

Mary Carillo, Ted Robinson, Dick Enberg, Jimmy Arias, and Leif Shiras need to learn a thing or two about the sport. They spew so much nonsense and dribble it turns off too many fans. Enberg and Robinson should not be allowed to commentate for tennis in the first place since they have absolutely no prior knowledge of the game.

Listening to Arias and Shiras commentate on the Davydenko-del Potro match was a real eye opener; both former pros have almost NOTHING interesting to say. They just state the obvious like “Davydenko just hit a forehand winner inside the sideline.” I never would’ve guessed that on my own even while watching the match. As for Carillo, she’s like a female John McEnroe only 10 times worse because she doesn’t even remotely know about the men’s OR women’s game.

As for the better commentators; John McEnroe, Pat McEnroe, Chris Fowler, Cliff Drysdale, Darren Cahill, Mary-Joe Fernandez, and Brad Gilbert. When I say better, I don’t mean they’re good, they’re just better than the aforementioned bunch. Johnny Mac is easily the most insightful guy on NBC (do they still show tennis?) but he needs to learn to shut up. It gets to the point where you don’t even realize he’s talking anymore because he has talked through an entire set nonstop. When does the guy breathe?

Pat McEnroe, Drysdale, and Fowler are like the Three Amigos, a couple of knuckleheads trying to figure out the game that is tennis. Patrick and Drysdale help each other but they are still lacking in a lot of insight that John can muster up on his own. And they play favorites a bit too much for my liking because they don’t give enough credit to the guys they don’t like. Fowler doesn’t know anything about tennis but I think he’s got an encyclopedia of stats and figures because that’s all he ever contributes (I’m a stat guy myself so I don’t mind). But overall, these three need to learn more about the actual game.

Fernandez, Gilbert, and Cahill are superb. Gilbert and Cahill genuinely know today’s game and the way it’s played and they can provide some very specific information on player’s they’ve coached. I have heard a lot of complaints about these guys but I never understood why, they’re awesome. Only thing I’d change is to give these guys more matches to cover, they can never say too much. Fernandez is their female counterpart; she seems to have a lot of insight into today’s women’s game. She’s a real breath of fresh air compared to nonsense-spewing Carillo.

I know I only mentioned American commentators and I apologize to the international guys here but I live in America. As for the other commentators I didn’t mention, it’s simply because I haven’t really heard them much so I have nothing to criticize them for. The point is, I hope the commentators start listening to the fans and learn to shut up and say only things that matter. Dick Enberg, stop calling the score, you’re not the scoreboard!

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67 Comments for Abu Dhabi Day One, Ideas for Improving Your Tennis Commentary in 2010

Gordo Says:

Ben –

On your predictions – what are you trying to be – another Sean here? How can you remotely predict the result of a match where we have not seen one of the opponents for 2 months? What is it that makes you predict Soderling will defeat Federer (for the first time in thirteen [13] trys) when you have not seen if Fed is in-form or not? Why do you believe that Nadal will beat an obviously hot Ferrer (who last lost to Nadal in a complete match on hard surface in 2005, having beaten Nadal twice on hard)?

Predictions are great a couple of rounds in, when you can see if a player is in shape and is playing to the best of his or her ability. But to make a prediction for this tournament is, well… let’s be honest – just a column with you guessing, because that’s all it is – a simple guess.

Why don’t you guys all hold off until you have something to base your guesses on?

I mean really, you don’t have to provide an audio track to be someone who should “not be allowed to commentate for tennis in the first place since they have absolutely no prior knowledge of the game.”

“Mary Carillo, Ted Robinson, Dick Enberg, Jimmy Arias, and Leif Shiras need to learn a thing or two about the sport. They spew so much nonsense and dribble it turns off too many fans. Enberg and Robinson should not be allowed to commentate for tennis in the first place since they have absolutely no prior knowledge of the game.”

Really Ben? Who should be commentating… you?

I guess give a guy a by-line and sometimes there is a side order of arrogance with it and it goes to his head.


Ben Pronin Says:

I will be completely honest, no I should not be commentating. I do not know nearly as much about the game as Cahill, Gilbert, or McEnroe. And while trying to commentate from my own living room I’ve often found it hard to come up with something useful to say. I just think they should get rid of those guys who have nothing useful to say. As for the good ones, there’s always room for improvement. Besides, I’m not the first nor will I be the last to complain about the commentators.

What’s the big deal if I make some absurd predictions? Is there a law against it? I’m not entirely guessing. I’m basing the Soderling upset on their last encounter, the US Open. Soderling showed that he has the game to trouble and quite possibly beat Federer. This is best of 3 sets and Federer doesn’t care enough about exhibitions to dig into all of his reserves. Soderling doesn’t care where, when, why, or how he beats Federer, as long as he does it.

But Nadal beating Ferrer is a complete guess. You’re a hypocrite for criticizing me for having 0 matches to base my predictions on and then calling Ferrer clearly hot. Where is he hot? Could it be he simply played better than Davydenko on a given day? Impossible, right? I think Nadal will be keen to impose himself early, and especially continue his dominance over his compatriots. Ferrer beat Nadal on hard courts in 2007, a lot has changed since then.

mary Says:

Seriously, there isn’t too much to say during a match. When a tourn. reaches its final, we’ve seen the finalists play a few times that week. During the slams, announcers are stuck with having to explain and sell everything about the sport to people that tune in once or twice a year.
It’s not like a team sport where about 10 different things are happening at once. It’s the prattling on and on during points that drives me crazy.
One thing that needs to stop is the growing problem of announcers commenting on players with whom they share a financial or outside professional interest.

mary Says:

“And while trying to commentate from my own living room I’ve often found it hard to come up with something useful to say.”

So, you’re not a commentator in real live, you just play one in your living room.

puckbandit Says:

A bit harsh on the commentators, no?

Believe me, I’ve complained plenty about several of the persons you’ve mentioned, but my complaints are based on style, not substance. It’s probably safe to say that all, even the non pro players, know more than enough to do their jobs and plenty more than you! LOL

It would be nice if you could provide examples or facts to back up your broad judgements. There, that’s a little blogger advise for 2010 from me (while sitting on my couch) to you. hehe

I agree with you on Fernandez and Drysdale – they’re excellent. As is Martini Navritolova.

Mary makes a great point about the potential conflict of interests among media types and the players they comment on.

One last note, I love the guys who cover the Masters Series for tennis channel – Jason Goodall and Robbie Koenig- I think they’re great.

madmax Says:


Peter Fleming is an excellent commentator – he is hugely funny (works over in UK for some of the networks, primarily skysports matches along with Mark Petchey and Barry Cowan, they tend to split their time between USA and UK).

I assume that Peter Fleming also commentates for US channels, but you didnt mention him in your list?

He has a certain charisma with his audience and is quite brilliant when talking about “shot making”. I think he also brings a very personal touch to the game – I love to hear it when some of them talk about the “magnificent” shots, and the variety of a players game – it’s good fun!

Gordo Says:

No Ben, a hypocrite would be someone saying you shouldn’t be making predictions and then making one himself.

By pointing out Ferrer’s recent results I was simply trying to follow your “expert opinion” but now that you have admitted that you are basically pulling this stuff out of your, er… just guessing, then I guess that makes sense.

What’s the big deal? No, there isn’t a law against it, but there is a blogging principal. You are no longer a goofy poster like me and all these other guys and gals; you write the articles and should therefore have some knowledge that will guide us off into some interesting and intelligent reparte.

Be responsible and only write a column if you have something to say. Some of your posts in here over the past months were awesome. I am sure that strongly lent to to you being a regular contributor. All I am asking is be dedicated to the position you now have and don’t just use it as a platform to dole out crap.

madmax Says:


very occasionally, Jason Goodall commentates for Eurosports – he is great at providing instant stats for example, on ball placement and first serve ratios, but other than that, when he talks about the match through the mic, he is not very good at all – in fact – downright boring. May be he is different, for different networks?

mary Says:

MM: During the slams, some cable channels show different matches on multiple channels. Some of the announcers you mentioned commentate on those. They are good because they do shut up during the points. Also, since they are often matches of lesser known players, the matches have less viewers.
Those are fun matches to watch because the commentators are less stuffy.

I do like some of Tracy Austin’s commentating. And, as always, Pam Shriver is a goddess.

Gordo Says:

Oh – you want an example of “doling out crap?” How about –

“As for Carillo, she’s like a female John McEnroe only 10 times worse because she doesn’t even remotely know about the men’s OR women’s game.”

Carillo won a mixed double Grand Slam and reach 2 other QFs, and she played on the tour for 4 years, so she must remotely know SOMETHING about the game.

Or does twice being named Broadcaster of the Year by Women’s Tennis Association (1981, 1985), being named “Best Commentator” (1986) by World Tennis Magazine and TENNIS Magazine (1988–91) mean that those organizations themselves know nothing?

I would suggest you back off the hyperbole and acknowledge that you may not agree with what she has to say, put please don’t say that she “doesn’t even remotely know about the men’s OR women’s game.”


mary Says:

Gordo: I see where Ben is coming from on this. Carillo can lean towards being interested in becoming like McEnroe. That is under some delusion we tune in for her “witty” banter instead of the actual match.
That may be the reason why she won those awards two decades ago.

This site may have a link to the Abu Dhabi matches: http://channelsurfing.net./
It updates during the day.
Have a Happy 2010.

Grant Bailey Says:

I was in Canada this summer for the ATP event…there is a Commentator whose frst name is Peter…he was very insightful, only spoke every 3rd or 4th point…no babble….just helpful information…Ben, you should research it..by far the best I have heard..Grant

Bernadette Says:

Ben is so full of it in so many ways. Enberg is actually the best announcer out there besides Johnny Mac. Trabert and Summerall were the best. I find it amazing and wonderful that John McEnroe who appears to be a real jerk in real life and still so on the court has absolutely no ego problems in the booth – it’s never about him, he has no problem recognizing the greatness in other players, and he is just terrific and the most knowledgeable in every way. Yes, he does talk too much, but I can live with HIS talking too much. Gilbert and Cahill are so biased and it shows big time. Up until a few months before Cahill got his shot at caoching Federer, Darren was soooo negative about Roger it was pathetic. Then his attitude changed while he was trying for the job. Now he’s a bit more neutral toward Roger. Gilbert’s head and ego are so big, I can’t see how anyone can fit in the booth with him. He may be a good coach for some but I find his commenting poor. He is so biased. He still thinks everything is about him. He thinks he knows everything yet can have little knowledge of what goes through the very top players’ minds when in the big events and finals. I mean, did the guy ever win a tournament? Yes, Robinson and Fowler are morons. Have they ever even held a racquet?? Robinson’s now probably been doing tennis for 15 years and he is still a moron of an announcer. It’s sad about carillo. Years ago she was actually a good commentator. Not any more. Can’t figure out what happened to her. Navratilova is good. Tracy Austin is HORRIBLE.

fae coleman Says:

Yep I like Navratilova, Johnny Macs great, Pete flemming too, but CAHILL!!! yuk he’s awful, can’t stand the guy!

Ben Pronin Says:

Bernadette, how exactly am I full of it? Enberg is the best announcer? That’s exactly what I was thinking as I watched him deny del Potro a chance to say something in Spanish after winning the US Open.

Gordo, I didn’t ask for examples. Also, notice how Carillo won those awards almost two decades ago. You clearly have a thing for her seeing as how she’s the only one you’re really defending. I may have gone over board but considering this is only my 3rd post, cut me some slack, I’m still learning.

Grant Bailey, perhaps you’re referring to Peter Fleming that madmax mentioned. Like I said, I couldn’t write anything on the guys I haven’t heard much. I have watched several matches through Sky Sport and Eurosport and I’ve enjoyed the commentary more often than not. The biggest difference between European commentators and US commentators is that the Europeans know when to shut up. There’s nothing worse than talking through a point.

Ben Pronin Says:

Oh and I personally love Cahill. Maybe I’m biased here although I can’t really say why. Apparently it’s just me but I think he’s great.

Skorocel Says:

Ben Pronin: “The biggest difference between European commentators and US commentators is that the Europeans know when to shut up. There’s nothing worse than talking through a point.”

LOL :-) You should’ve listened to the Spaniards when Nadal plays :-) A la linia, a la linia!

Skorocel Says:

As for the commentators, my personal choice is without question the David Mercer & Frew McMillan duo, who both used to comment for Eurosport.

Dan Martin Says:

Courier can do a good job. At any rate, I think tennis has two issues. Players who know the benefits of topspin or under spin may not need a remedial lesson, but a non-tennis sports fan who tunes into a Federer-Nadal match and hears a term like “groundies” is probably a little lost and turned off to the sport all at once. If someone does not play tennis are they going to automatically understand why a slice up the line is generally a good approach shot or will it be like me if hockey comes on and I am like “well they seem to be skating and hitting a puck.”

Sports make more sense if you understand the internal logic and talking about how a slice stays low with less pace than a normal shot giving the volleyer time to move forward and the potential to knock off a passing shot that might sit up and that going up the line generally makes it easier for the volleyer to cover the potential passing shot angles can help a viewer the next time he or she is watching a match and an approach shot is struck during a rally. they can even use a telestrater to show what angles a person has when presented with an approach shot – pass up the line, hit it into the body, a tough cross court angle, or a lob and then show the hazards – the net man has the line covered, the net and side line are also hazards making a lob or cross court short the most likely choices …

Tennis commentators need to in my mind convey what is going on and at times explain the basics so the sport can grow. They also need to discuss the preparation, conditioning and mental toughness tennis requires. Finally, they need to find a way to talk about one on one competition and the psychological and physical dynamics this presents. If the commentators do this while letting the tennis be the focus rather than the personality in the booth, tennis benefits. My $.02

jane Says:

Peter Burwash, yes he’s a knowledgeable and excellent Canadian commentator. I like Jason Goodall and the fellow he often commentates with (forget his name – is it Kevin someone?). I hate Cliff Drysdale. Ugh.

Anyhow, am all tied up with hockey at the moment (Go Canada Go!).

Happy New Year to All!!!

jane Says:

Ben – Grant was referring to Peter Burwash not Peter Fleming. FYI. Cheers.

Re: your comment on liking Cahill; I think this whole thing with commentators is rather subjective. I sometimes even like Johnny Mac, even though he babbles and sometimes is incredibly biased. But he occasionally also makes insightful comments and he can be kind of funny too.

Anyhoo – onward and upward. Looking forward to the AO soon!

Stella Eyres Says:

Ben — the commentator Grant Bailey talked about works the ATP tourney in Montreal or Toronto for our local broadcaster. He is superb. His name is Peter Burwash. We was a Davis Cupper for Canada, runs tennis academies — knows the game, speaks when necessary and always points out a players good points. Even if a player loses a point he will emphasise that although the point was lost the player was trying ” the right thing”. I wish he did more events but I guess he’s busy with his other endeavours

Ben Pronin Says:

Thanks for the clarification, Jane.

This whole thing is subjective which is why I don’t fully understand why people are jumping on me for saying who I like and dislike.

Dan, kind of an odd question but should all of that apply to the commentators on Tennis Channel? TC has to be ordered as part of a package and most casual viewers probably won’t be watching replays of Almagro and Monfils in Mexico. So should the commentators really be stating obvious things like “he hit a forehand into the open court”?

I’ve rarely heard someone say something about what is really going on when someone hits an approach shot. That’s why I like Gilbert and Cahill, two guys who have been regular coaches all decade long and understand what’s going on with particular shots. How can someone say Carillo knows what’s going on with all that when she played tennis in the 70s, back when the forehand follow through stopped kinda halfway across your body as opposed to how it’s now commonly wrapped around the body or above the shoulder.

puckbandit Says:

“How can someone say Carillo knows what’s going on with all that when she played tennis in the 70s, back when the forehand follow through stopped kinda halfway across your body as opposed to how it’s now commonly wrapped around the body or above the shoulder.”

Do you really think that players whose competitive years were in the past are incapable of understanding the evolution of the game? If that were the case, many of the persons you mentioned as admiring would be eliminated from the broadcast booth. Mary looks like she still takes to the courts, so I imagine her game has changed and her knowledge of current strokes, equipment etc has also developed.

I think what you are experiencing by way of posters “jumping on you” is simply the raised expectations of content provided by a byline blogger, from content contained in random posts. Something that Gordo pointed out in his response above.

While this is opinion writing, and you are entitled to yours whether others agree or not, opinion writing works best when it is given context. For example, if you could have posted an example or two of the contrasting approaches of a “good” or “bad” commentator, we would have a better understanding of how you came to form your opinions.

Actually, since you watch t.v. in the states, you will have that opportunity. TTC and ESPN will both be offering coverage of this years slams and often have different commentators covering the same match. Maybe you could tivo during the AO and come back to this discussion again. I think it’s a good topic worth pursuing.

I recently watched one of Feds matches with Martina and Justin Gimelstob commentating. (I think it was the AO final against Nadal. I don’t remember them being the commentators when I first watched that match.) Anyway, Justin was talking about Laver’s Grand Slams and stated that Laver did not face any of the top players because the tourneys were closed to pros. Martina quickly corrected him that that wasn’t the case in 1969, since the tourneys were “open” by then and all top competitors were present. This is a case of the opposite concern of a studio talker playing to far in the past (Carillo). Justin does not have the institutional knowledge since he is so young and did not witness some of the greats of the past, and not doing enough homework to get the history correct. I like Justin, but it was a big gaffe.

huh Says:

I don’t know how others would take it, but to me Fed skipping DC was right decision. No need to really worry over DC right now for him. Oh but the nationalists, patriots and similar things will bay for his blood now, LORD SAVE FEDERER !

That said, I hope Fed wins at least one more slam this year. Same for Roddick and Murray too!


I’m extremely happy that tennis kicks off again! :D

huh Says:

One most important thing: HI ALL!

the_mind_reels Says:


I completely agree with you about Robbie Koenig and Jason Goodall. I think they are both great, and particularly as a team. They don’t talk non-stop, and they do a nice job of identifying why particular shots are effective/difficult to hit/etc. Robbie is personally my favorite.

As for what Ben said, generally I think I agree, though perhaps JMac deserves a little more credit — the guy usually knows what he’s talking about, particulary about the psychology of the game.

tiger wood Says:

any one have a link where i can watch abu dhabi exo live (in between my rebab session)..thanks.

rebab is boring. not looking forward to the next session named “keeping your pants zipped”.

puckbandit Says:


I have always been a Johnny Mac fan. Some of his on-court antics made me cringe, all the more-so since I admired his game so much.

Although he can talk a bit too much, I love listening to him call a match. His knowledge of the game is impressive and you can tell he just loves the game, appreciates its history and respects all those that contribute to making it such a great sport. I agree with your comment about the psychology of the game. Nobody is better at offering insight into a player’s psyche at any given moment of the game. That ability, helps the viewer connect to the players in a way very few other commentators can replicate. I always feel like I know more about the mental aspect of what has transpired on the court after listening to him. It’s something that only those that have competed at the highest level, and been in the toughest championship moments, can bring to the broadcast booth. Martina can do this, as can Conners. But not as effectively as John. He’s the best at putting the viewer in the athlete’s head.

blah Says:

Get Agassi in the booth and put Cahill by him.

puckbandit Says:


Congrats on Canada’s Jr. win. Great come from behind. I caught the tail end of the game when Canada tied it up.

I hope they meet for the gold, but Sweden may have something to say about that. LOL


jane Says:

Thanks bandit. Yup another thriller. Eberle is a future NHL star I suspect. If they meet for the gold it could be another thriller. We’ll see what happens.


p.s. Mostly agree with you on your comments about J-Mac. I loved his game as well, and do think he understands the psychology of the game unlike many others.

I like the strategic analysis of Goodall and Koenig, as well as Burwash.

Also agree with blah that Agassi would likely be an insightful commentator; enjoyed his ad libbing when he was up in the booth at the USO in 2008 I think it was.

Gottakeeprunning Says:

Interesting reading opinions about tennis commentators… I don’t know if any of you have ever had the opportunity of listening to a commentary by Vijay Armitraj, but I have always enjoyed his comments. He knows what he is talking about, doesn’t play favourites and is easy on the ears!

madmax Says:

Skorocel Says:
As for the commentators, my personal choice is without question the David Mercer & Frew McMillan duo, who both used to comment for Eurosport.

December 31st, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Skor, DAVID and FREW still comment for Eurosport and I agree with you – Frew has that ‘Old English accent’ and listening to him, is very compelling.

Regarding Jason Goodall, he is (imo) not particularly great when commentating over here in UK, for example, when I listened to him on Eurosport/and on radio tennis, he talked OVER the points, it was so irritating. His best input was when he was asked by the main broadcasters to show his computer wizardry ‘on screen’, that’s when the game went to break, and Goodall had about 2/3 minute slot to talk stats and percentages, ball placement, number of aces of opponents. I found that part extremely beneficial.


Remember you are writing as a ‘professional’ now for a reason – because you are darn good at it!

Grow a thicker skin and BE YOURSELF. Once you start to change your style to please others, you then become someone different. Not everyone is going to like what you say, that’s the nature of a forum, yes? So what? We can debate what you say and agree with you, or say that we dont like what you say, but YOU have to rise above it and continue to stand by your own views, whilst respecting others, that doesnt mean people are going to like you less or more. just my input here buddy. fyi, i LOVE your posts.

huh Says:

Who cares as to who’s the commentator so long as they’re not unnecessary putting down someone just in order to elevate someone!

Lovey Says:

Soderling just about to win his first match against the Fed. Too bad this is an exhibition. But i think if they meet again in a real tourny he will win it.

Lovey Says:

Congrats Sod, 13 times lucky. 6-7, 7-6, 6-2. well deserved.

huh Says:


PJ Says:

Does this technically count as a win? I mean, yes, he won, but in terms of stats, will it show up?

huh Says:

Too bad that it was an exhbition match though! Despite that, well done Soderling. :) I hope he pockets the title and the $ 250000 at ABU Dhabi. :D Best of luck to Sod for 2010! :)

Lovey Says:

Looks like 13 is unlucky number for the Fed. Davydenko beats him after a 13 attempt, now Sod does the same. Can he beat Fed on a REAL 13 attempt in a real tourney? i think he can.

huh Says:

I agree with Jane and blah however that Hockey’s a great thing to watch. I actually feel that running constantly, bending and straightening up all the way, chasing the beautifull hockey ball with even more beautiful hockey sticks is something relly exciting! I most of all enjoy football however! ;) Tennis comes a close second with Hockey following it. The only irony’s I don’t know many hockey stars. But have idea about football and tennis.

My fave footballers being Pele, George Best, Zidane and then Beckham. I was rooting for France when Zidane was there and always and forever root for Britain. Kahn was so great too! The good old days of football with Zidane and Kahn! :(

My fave hockey team are Netherlands, Australia and England. I love the passion of Pakistani hockey team as well.

And my fave tennis star is of course, you all know, who. No? ;)

madmax Says:

PJ, a win is a win, right? Even though its an exhibition, it wont count in the head to head or the stats –

Congratulations to the soderling. I am getting to quite like this guy. He seems very humble to me, has such a quiet, almost shy voice.

This result doesnt surprise me. It was close for the first two sets, third set, as federer has done in the past, he tries out his new shots – you rarely see federer serve and volley on second serves – hardly ever – BUT – he tries the shot out, and see how it goes. These exhibition events are really the only tournaments he can play to “work out” his shots, take a few more risks than he would normally do, before the BIG ONE! I know there is Doha next and very possibly Kooyong, but fed knows what he needs to do before the AO and he will do it!

Go fed go!

Devastating Djokovic,

To let you know that our own skysports broadcaster in the UK – Barry Cowan – said after the match – “this isnt going to hurt federer one bit” and that he finds it “healthy” and “refreshing” to see federer continue to evolve his game, even after winning 15 grand slams. That his motivation is still up there and he is still the one to beat in the slams.

We federer fans know that Roger will always try new shots, he especially loves his volleys, more so than ever, but Sod is getting closer – he continually made passing shots and served to fed’s backhand – federer will note that one down for next time!

Hi Huh! Did you have a great christmas? xx

huh Says:

I also like Germany hockeyt team. What a great team it’s been, doing great as West Germany, doing great also as Germany!!!

huh Says:

dearest madmax:

HI!!!!!! Yes, I had a particularly satisfying and simple Christmas. :) Hope Fed’s gonna do GREAT this year too! :) May you always be HAPPY! :D

huh Says:

maxi: we also have to request Mrs.Margot to come back, no?

huh Says:

Of course I’m talkin about field hockey! ;)

PJ Says:

Thanks, madmax. That’s what I meant. Obviously, it’s a win, and that should do wonders for Soderling the next time he plays Roger in an “official” match. An exhibition is much different than an official match, but when you haven’t beaten someone, any type of win should help with your confidence against that player. I thought that it didn’t count in the H2H, but wanted to make sure.

It’ll be interesting if they meet at the Aussioe Open this year. I remember Roddick beating Roger a few years ago at an Aussie exhibition. They mentioned the win, but obviously it didn’t factor into the H2H. Roger then destroyed him at the Aussie Open. It’s nice, though, to see so many contenders, even at the beginning of the year.

huh Says:

Fed better either skip Kooyong or lose it (God-willing unintentionally!)coz I dare say if Fed wins Kooyong title, then it’s BYE BYE AUS 10 title for him! Call me superstitious but Kooyong victory means OZ Open defeat, I seriously beleieve Kooyong’s unlucky place for AUS Open aspirant! A Kooyong winner has never won the AUS title and I think it continues this year also.

madmax Says:

Huh! Of course! Where is Margot? Probably on a lovely winter walk somewhere?

PJ, yes. I think the tennis now is much more interesting, so many contenders out there – and I love the federer above all the other players – but I enjoy seeing rafa play (of course), I also enjoy soderling – I thought he was wonderful in the final of the FO, so yes I am pleased for soderling – as one of these days he had to beat federer even if in an exhibition – a win is a win.

Though, I remember fed, I think last year (could have been the year before, lost a few exhibitions prior to the AO and then we all know what happens when he puts himself into fifth gear and then on to cruise control!

He looked relaxed to me out there today. Some nice play, a few brilliant shots, the Federer magic is still there –

It’s the slams though PJ that are his focus so of course, I am hoping that he goes all the way again.

madmax Says:


You must not think like that! Always be positive. If federer feels he needs more tuning up in Kooyong, then he must do this. Kooyong is a very good tournament, though exhibition with no points, it is still where he has won at Kooyong many times – AND gone on to win AO – last year was different – too much pressure on Federer.

Remember in January last year, he knew that he was expecting twins when he went to play the match against delpo and crucified him – that must have been a huge pressure on him (worrying about Mirka and babies) –

whatever the case, Roger played a brilliant four sets at the AO last year, Huh. It was the final set which was the breakdown, his serve was completely off – and he went on a walkabout – that wont happen this year.

He will be fully focused and be out there to put right what went wrong for him at the AO – primarily poor shot selection and a bad back – plus it was rafa’s time. So be positive and remember federer knows what he has doing!

madmax Says:

Plus huh, pressure of winning 14th slam is no longer there – whatever comes now is a bonus – surely that must put federer in a very good place in his head!

Stella Eyres Says:

one more thought on the commentator issue. I believe that it is not necessarily a commentator that is bad or good but it is the TV channel they work for. What do I mean ? Take Johnny Mac . When he does commentary for the US channels it is constant talking, non stop. Some of it is insightful but mostly it is drivel. They’re told that there should be no dead air time so they talk over break points, good points, bad points , match points. Then put Johnny Mac on BBC and listen. He rarely speaks. When he does it is at the correct time. Check this out. Find a streaming video of Centrecourt Wimbledon next summer and catch Johnny Mac doing BBC. Then when he moves over to NBC listen again.
Thinking again, my fave commentators are Mary Jo, Pam, Burwash, Ginny Wade , Martina N.
Worst Tim Ryan, Chris Fowler ( he’s just mean and nasty if you’re not American)

huh Says:


I hope your faith triumphs over my doubt! :P
I can however assure you that Fed has my TOTAL and COMPLETE support at this year’s OZ Open, this time it’s gonna be undivided loyalty for Fed. I FIRST OF ALL and want Federer and ONLY Federer to win this year’s AUS Open title. Come On Federer!!!!!!!!!!!

huh Says:

So hey, it’s finally proved that nobody beats ‘the Sod’ 13 times in a row! :)

Dan Martin Says:

Ben, I think Tennis Channel is a unique situation. It is not available in a lot of areas and is not included in typical cable packages in the areas where it is available. So yeah the audience tends to be more tennis savvy than a CBS, NBC or ESPN audience might be. Tennis Channel should not point out the obvious. I do think more broad based broadcasts should take a few minutes and use some tools to illustrate some strategies that various players use. With HD broadcasts it is easier to see the different types and degrees of spin players use. I hope tennis exploits that a bit to create a more informed audience.

huh Says:

maxi: Federer has never won Kooyong and AUS Open both on the same year. In 2004, 06 & 07 Fed was the OZ Champ and on those years Fed has not won Koooyong Classic titles. Perhaps there is a ray of hope however in the fact that Agassi won 2003 Aus title and also 2003 Kooyong. Thus may be it’s not unlucky after all! Sorry, my bad! However I’m only concerned right now about and hoping for Fed to be the 2010 AUS CHAMPION!

huh Says:

I like Dan Martin. :)

Dan Martin Says:

Huh, I like you too.

Voicemale1 Says:

And Nadal has just beaten David Ferrer 76 63. So Ferrer & Federer will play the 3rd place consolation match tomorrow prior to the Nadal Soderling first place match.

madmax Says:

Huh, sweet dear friend.

You worry too much. Kooyong is a solid tournament to play before the AO, federer has always done well there, and has ALWAYS when playing Kooyong, gone on to be in the AO slam final (at the very least!). So c’mon Huh! get back the self-belief you had later on last year.

And bear this statement in mind, made by Barry Cowan (who is a rafael nadal fan more than a federer fan), Cowan said:

“We have been spoilt by federer for so long now, and he is still at the top of his game, playing brilliant tennis – it is just the chasing pack is closer”.

Huh, we have to accept as federer fans that federer will lose matches more often (mostly exhibition and masters events), but you can rest assured that Federer will give his ALL, his BEST when the slams come to town!

Can you imagine every single time an interview asks federer about “retirement” how annoying that must be to him? The broadcaster for Iranian TV at the Abu Dhabi exhibition today, Phil (someone or other), so laid back but such a jerk – asked Federer because he had “achieved it all”, surely he couldnt be motivated anymore. Huh! I wanted to shake the guy! Irritating!

Federer, very calmly said ” I love the game, I am too young to retire, I am motivated, my wife wants me to continue playing, I feel I have a lot left to give”.

Now, lets just read the above statement again – and let’s see over the next 12 months how many more commentators ask Federer the same question, and how many more times he has to answer it.

Let’s just enjoy his game. He played well today. Just watched the match again against Soderling. Federer played well, very well. He could have wrapped it up in two sets. He was a break up in the second set, but he didnt want to win enough Huh. We enter a different phase, where fed will win, provided he has the motivation and the passion – I really believe that – his shot making today was great. He practised some more volleys and drop shots, but soderling wanted to win more and I think fed just didnt put the effort in, in the third set. Simple.

MMT Says:

Predicted on another post that Soderling and Nadal would win their semi’s in straight sets, with Nadal winning the final, and I’m sticking with that. Not a lot of predictive value in these matches for the AO though.

As for the commentators – Mary Carillo has never been known for her powers of analysis – I’ve grown tired of her self-parody, and agree that her best years are well behind her.

Robinson and Enberg are play-by-play guys, and as such, are not expected to know the game very well, but Enberg is by far the worse of the two. He so obviously forces planned expressions and vignettes, and he is shamelessly disingenuously sentimental.

Jimmy Arias is actually better at analysis than you’ve given him credit for – he was after all ranked in the top 5, which is more than you can say for most of the people in the booth.

I like Leif Shiras – so humble, you almost forget that he was quite a good player including reaching the final at Queens 22 years ago.

John McEnroe is still a good commentator – love his vignettes and personal anecdotes, although I think his brother Patrick is better at analysis of players based on what they do and not pedigree. John still has a tendency to commentate strictly fron the perspective of the guy who’s “supposed” to win.

Chris Fowler is unbearable – this guy thinks that just because he’s been around tennis for a while, that he can analyze – he should leave that to the experts because he is clueless and embarrasses himself when he disputes the analysts.

Drysdale’s analysis is pretty poor, but I still like the guy – I think he works as a play by play if he can resist the urge to break down strokes and tactics.

Darren Cahill is very strong in analysis, and they should have him in the booth more often than they do, but he adds a lot with his analysis and courtside commentary. His experience as a coach gives him legitimacy that many of his colleagues lack.

Mary-Joe Fernandez isn’t so strong in commentary of analysis, but at least she doesn’t grate the nerves like Mary Carillo. She’s definitely better on the women’s side than the men’s, and particularly with her connection to Federer hard to take seriously when she’s doing his matches. That said, I like her a lot more than Carillo or Shriver who are unbearable.

Brad Gilbert is good in analysis, and I enjoy hearing him talk about his experience with various players as well – even though they have to pull it out of him.

I’m surprised you left out Navratilova, who for my money, is the most insightful commentator on TV at this point. She’s not afraid to speak her mind, she’s unbiased, and she’s got a huge pedigree to back her up. She’s as good with the men as she is with the ladies.

Connors was also good, and has tempered his past tendency to self-promote his own pedigree. His analysis is good, and I think quite a few players would benefit from his insights – as a coach he’s too self-centered, but as an analyst he’s good.

Also good are Robbie Koenig and Jason Goodall – they’re my favorite pair because they give their opinions and back them up with good analysis. They’re not out to self promote.

For me: the best play by play guy is Shiras. Best female analyst is Navratilova. Best male analyst is Cahill.

huh Says:


Believe it or not, I’ve always faith in Federer, had it in 2008 when he was losing many matches badly, had it when Fed lost the AUS 09, had and have it whenever he faced/facess Rafa and have it today before & after his loss and would have it till he retires. You know why? Fed’s just TOO GOOD!!! :P

jane Says:

MMT – thanks for that breakdown on the commentators; agree with what you say a lot of the time. I know P-Mac gets a lot of flak, but I do find him to be good at analyzing what a player is doing right or wrong on the court. Also agree with the many of you who pointed out Cahill’s skills. He’s just too often whispering on the sidelines. I suppose they all have their vested interests or styles but some seem to put those interests aside and/or make that style work for them more effectively. Gilbert can be gruff, but he, too, makes some good calls and assessments of players’ strengths and weaknesses. He called Nadal’s 2008 Wimbledon win before many others.
huh, are you referring to ICE hockey, with a puck? That’s what Bandit and I are talking about. But since you mentioned a ball I thought you might be referring to field hockey. Anyhow, if you’re interested, try watching a few NHL games; they are fantastic. Or maybe watch some of the Olympic hockey, coming around in a month or so, here in Canada. Cheers!

xmike Says:

to everyone complaining about english speaking commentators, you don’t know how lucky you are for being able to hear them!!!

a few years ago, eurosport started broadcasting in national languages and, instead of giving the viewers the possibility to choose the language, we are stuck with the language from our own country;

i live in portugal (unfortuneltly..) and if you want to hear the most disgusting, irrtitating, annoying, boring, insipid and stupid commentator in the world, you should learn some portuguse and then try to watch any match commentated by a jerk called BERNARDO MOTA, after a couple of points you have to turn the sound off, otherwise you will find yourself screaming obscenities and thrwoing shoes at the tv !!!!

miguel seabra, if you’re reading, please keep that idiot away from the mic :/

Skorocel Says:


Completely agree re: the Eurosport! It used to be a fine channel, but once they started to broadcast in national languages, it became pretty annoying to hear…

Stella Eyres Says:

Jane, you’re Canadian eh !
go Sens Go

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