Sunday, September 7, 2008

US Open 9/7/08 Day 14

by Savannah

I'm sorry Helen. You asked that I ignore your first comment but I published it anyway because it gets to the heart of why we Rafa fans, indeed anyone who is a fan of tennis, is upset today.

I usually put on an all news station when I wake up so that I can hear all the news, sports and weather. I was about to doze off when the 10:15a sports report led off blasting the USTA for it's "inexplicable", "indefensible" and in the end "unfair" decision to start the second semi - why was it the second semi anyway - a full hour and a half after the start of the Federer/Djokovic match. The sportscaster went on to say that the USTA is not commenting.

Tropical Storm Hanna did not sneak up on anyone. Everyone and his brother knew it was coming. Even moving the starting time up to 11a was a risk since the weather does what it wants when it wants. The sensible thing to do would have been to cancel play for the day and follow the original schedule on Sunday which everyone knew was going to be bright and sunny, which it is. Someone I know who was a fly on the wall at the meeting where the decisions were made said that CBS wanted play on Saturday afternoon. They also wanted the second match to start later since that would allow them to air it after the Federer match. Only tennis heads would know that what was being broadcast was bullshit and apparently the true fans don't count.

Now they're saying that the storm came before they thought it would. Yeah, right. There was no doubt that the storm would hit during Rafa's match. Anyone who could read a weather map could see it. I guess no one at the USTA can read a weather map huh? I heard one of the talking heads - I think it was Enberg - say that Rafa was scheduled second because he is so popular. Have it your way Dickie.

Rafa had not practiced one second on Armstrong and that was clear. His shots were off, his timing was off, and he was frustrated. He has practiced and played on Ashe.

Sports Illustrated reports on the mini riot that took place with the court change. Nice publicity USTA.

It's no secret that the USTA plays favorites. Many of us still remember the shenanigans they pulled against Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2003 when faced with similar weather issues. The USTA did all they could to favor the American Andy Roddick ensuring that a tired Ferrero took the court in the Final. I guess since they got away with it before they figured they could pull the same crap again. One thing they forgot is that tennis is more popular now, something that the USTA says it wants. I guess they forgot that with increased popularity comes increased scrutiny. No one is going for the okey-doke this time and they are rightly being called for favoritism this time around.

I'm heading out there today. I wasn't even going to post until I got back home but I have to admit I'm really ticked off about what happened yesterday. Forcing fans to chose braving 40mph - 50mph winds on their way home - the wind and rain was horrible last night - in order to see tennis shows what the USTA thinks about it's product, the players, and it's fans. The USTA could have told CBS no, we'll do everything on Sunday. All the baseball in the area was canceled yesterday long before the storm hit. They're playing double headers today. Hell, they even cancelled some NASCAR race in the Maryland area. Now tennis will start at 4p instead of 1p to accommodate the NFL 1p game. Football games tend to run long. I'm just sayin'.

I'm posting a machine translation of an article from the Spanish press which details why the decisions were made the way they were and why the USTA has shown itself to be not ready for prime time when it comes to dealing with network issues.


Helen W said...

Well, at least Dickie Bird Enberg was happy, and so I'm sure we all feel MUCH better. Talk about biased: When Djokovic hit an ace against Federer in the 3rd set, Dickie described it thus (word for word):

“Rare ace for Djokovic. Federer has 14."

In the "Ask Rafa" section of Rafa's blog on Times Online I posed a question about why his match was scheduled second. Maybe that will give them a chance to reply.

In the meantime, I can hardly wait for the translation you mentioned.

oddman said...

Too much turmoil in me to even respond to this news. I await your translation.

Vamos, Rafael - Superman.

transit said...

hi savannah,

I too kept wondering, if they had to start a semifinal match at all, why they chose federer-djokovic over nadal-murray? Isn't it the case that players in the top half play before the bottom? I also noted the same thing, that they forced rafa to play in a venue he was unfamiliar with. C'mon! He's been playing most of the time in arthur ashe and they switch him over to louie armstrong? If they had to play both semis on the same day, the federer-djokovic match should have been the one moved to louie armstrong!

another thing, if rafa had won against murray (he just lost as i write this =( ) he would have had less than 24 hours to rest before the final!?! Why did they stack the deck against rafa? is that anyway to treat the top seed and no. 1 player?


i hope murray wins the us open! just to flip off us open organizers for treating rafa-murray so unfairly!


Helen W said...

I guess The Powers That Be got their wish, along with Dickie Bird.

Naturally I'm sorry that Rafa lost. But he's had an incredible year, and he got further than he ever has at the USO.

Of course the games they played with Rafa apply equally to Andy Murray. But if Andy plays Raja anything like he played Rafa, he will win his first Major. And I, for one, will be pulling for him 110%.

Kia said...

I'm a huge Mets fan so I knew that a major sporting event across the street from the brain trust that is US tennis had been cancelled. But I figured that tennis would go on, public safety be damned, b/c football is king.

I'm not a Rafa fan but ultimately it's both a shame and an embarrassment. For once I'm glad I'm mono lingual so I can't read the reports first hand in the international press. Aside from the UK (the Brits to distracted by the elation of Murray to question the circumstances : ) ) I'm sure they are scathing!

Helen W said...

Oh, BTW, did anyone else want to bring up their cookies when Dickie Bird and Co talked about how lucky we viewers were to be watching the "bonus coverage" of the men's second semi-final today?

How stupid to they think we are?

tristann said...

The scheduling affected the chances of whoever won the second semifinal, in this case Murray. He has the game to beat Federer, yet they have shortchanged his chances in the biggest match of his career. I wish him the best of luck and hope he takes it.

Unfortunately we have seen this script before. A grand slam final, where one of the parties has been handed a distinct advantage. What is supremely ironic is that the British tennis establishment allowed an even worse travesty at Wimbledon in 07 and now they get to see their boy shafted as he faces the biggest match of his career so far. I really wish the best for Andy Murray today. He has the game to beat Fed and has done so before. Hope he comes through.

I'm sad about Rafa's loss, but he has been subpar this whole tournament, so I was not terribly surprised. He has had a great run, and here is hoping he has a great fall season.

Savannah said...

Tristann I just said to a friend that Rafa played the entire tournament on fumes and that it was his will power alone that got him to the semi finals.

oddman said...

Yes. He was awesome, even on fumes. Pretty damn good to get all the way to the semi's when not playing your best, against inspired opponents, and on the 'soofrace' his detractors crow that he can't play on.
Who consistently went farther in this year's tournaments? No one.

Vamos, Rafa!