Saturday, June 2, 2007

RG Day Seven - A Commentary

I don’t usually comment on matches at this point in a tournament since Craig does such a good job but I just wanted to say a few things about the matches I’ve been watching online and following via the scoreboard.

Everyone picks their matches of the day. For me there were three:

Amelie Mauresmo (FRA)[5] vs. Lucie Safarova (CZE)[25]

Ai Sugiyama (JPN)[21] vs. Anna Chakvetadze (RUS)[9]

Novak Djokovic (SRB)[6] vs. Olivier Patience (FRA)

Then this three hour plus WTA match happened:

A. Medina Garrigues (ESP)[24] vs. Daniela Hantuchova (SVK)[12]

I’ve often stated that I can’t figure out how Daniela Hantuchova wins matches. She’s not the best mover. She’s extremely thin compared to her more muscular compatriots. And yet she won a title early this year.
I’m giving myself an excuse for not turning into this match until the third set. Anabel Medina Garrigues had just won a 7-2 tie break to take the second set and it was anyone’s guess as to what would happen in the third. Well the third set lasted over an hour. Towards the end it was obvious who was the fitter player. Daniela, on nothing more than fumes and guts almost pulled it out. But it has been a good spring for AMG as she’s called on some fan boards and she was the one raising her arms in triumph when it was over making the final 16 in a slam for the first time ever.
But Daniela should not hang her head. She played well. It may not console her but I think she showed that despite her frame she can hang tough. I’m not going to dog her out anymore.
And congratulations Anabel on making the round of 16.

Amelie vs Lucie

When you watch Amelie play you know why Existentialism came out of France. The Powers That Be do everything short of hog tying Amelie’s opponents in order to get her through the early rounds. And yet again Amelie has lost in the third round. Lucie Safarova seems to have Ms Mauresmo’s number. This match was not online so I can’t comment on it except to say that next year I guess they’ll be putting up juniors against Amelie.

Ai vs AnnaC

I didn’t expect Ai to win this. At 31 she should not be competitive against players like Ms Chakvetadze. Yet this was an interesting if predictable match. I’m still not on the AnnaC bandwagon. I’m waiting.

Djokovic vs Patience

I thought this was a match that Djokovic would win in straights. I'd never heard of Olivier Patience and figured he was just one more guy they threw under a bus. Apparently I was wrong. In what had to be the men's match of the day so far ( Jarkko vs Lleyton is still underway and it appears to be competitive) Patience was, in my very humble opinion, one shot away from the round of sixteen. When he watches those tapes he'll see that the dropshot at the net right to Djokovic in the fourth set was not the shot especially when he had a clear down the line shot. That was the match. Patience seems to be one of those players who prefers clay so we may not see him again until this time next year. I hope he gets some serious match play under his belt so that when he faces the same situation he did today he'll know what to do.

The Networks

I have to say that the coverage of the French Open has been fantastic up until today. The Tennis Channel and ESPN nicely split the pie. Fans had a choice of watching TTC on their televisions and online. This was great for fans like me who aren't allowed to have the TTC for whatever reason.
(I'm saying what I mean here folks.) ESPN360 was showing matches TTC wasn't. And then worker bees could come home and watch taped coverage from the day if you couldn't manage to see any of the other venues.

So it is with sadness I report that NBC will have coverage Saturday and Sunday. The Patience/Djokovic match went into a fifth set. The French crowd was going wild. Djokovic seemed to be pulling a Lazarus and coming back from the dead. TTC coverage ended a few minutes before 1p EDST. On goes the television. And what do we get? Maria Sharapova's dead and gone match against a teenager who had a lucky run. Forget Mauresmo going down. Forget that Rafa was playing live. They're showing him later on tape so I guess we should all rejoice. Hell, perennial favorite Lleyton Hewitt was in a dog fight with Jarkko Nieminen. It was the Pova gil or nothing.I made it through exactly two minutes of JMac's commentary before hitting the mute button.

And that's another thing. How refreshing to hear announcers actually call the match and not spew hype all over the airwaves. I'm not saying TTC announcers are on a par with the BBC announcers-yet, but they're getting there.

So tomorrow morning I'll be up around 5 in the morning staring bleary eyed at my computer screen knowing I'll see some good tennis. And I will turn into NBC when required. I have to make sure to support tennis on television.

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