The wind arrived during the match between Andy Roddick and Rafael Nadal. It so enjoyed the Coachella Valley and and the Indian Wells Tennis Garden it hung around dropping temperatures to the seventies and wreaking havoc with those tennis balls flying through the air. It had a ball, pun intended. The women of the WTA would have preferred the zephyrs take their games someplace else.
I missed the live play between Ana Ivanovic and Vera Zvonareva (more on that later) and watched the replay late last night. I felt that Vera had a better than average chance of beating Ana since she had been playing the better tennis coming into the match and seemed to have banished her demons. She did have one racquet bashing moment, one that equalled Fernando Gonzalez efforts earlier in the tournament, but after that Vera settled down and began hitting winners. Ana meanwhile seemed totally upset with what was happening to her outfit in the wind and appeared to be totally discombobulated.
As you know I saw Ana at the BJK Cup in Madison Square Garden earlier in the month and that while everyone is going on about her serving woes I felt that her game was lacking, that she'd lost something in her mental approach to the game. That was obvious yesterday.
Some fans have said the match was the worst ever because of the wind. I think the wind exposed the hit hard and harder approach many of the women have now. Most of the women hit a hard, flat ball. This approach made it more difficult for Vera and Ana to play well during their match. A ball with more "work" on it could carve it's way through the at times 50 mph gusts.
After Vera's racquet bashing there was no doubt who was going to win the match. Ana could not keep her focus and ended up being outplayed by the woman she was once up 2-0 on during the first set. WTA matches these days are usually won by the player who keeps the ball between the lines and has less UFE's than her opponent. The wind just added to the problems.
It was the best match the women who made the final could play given their approach to their games and the windy conditions. That is not an excuse. WTA play has been subpar for some time now. The wind just blew away any illusions fans of women's have about what is going on in the sport.
The Unseen Final
If the final of a WTA Premier Mandatory event is held and there is little or no live coverage on broadcast or internet television has it really happened?
Fans of women's tennis found themselves tuning into tennisradio.com to hear live commentary on the women's final yesterday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Why? Because in some parts of the country regular television broadcast both the men's and women's final on delay. In my area coverage started at 8p. The internet option? This is when it got interesting.
TennisTV was inoperable. It wasn't available. Now you know there was a feed somewhere and that someone online had to be streaming it right? Wrong. The usual sources were all on lockdown thanks to the ever vigilant WTA gnomes who made sure the sites knew that if they were streaming the match they would be slapped with cease and desist orders. The only source that worked was a Russian satellite subscription service. Thank the gods for those people.
So what happened? I have no idea. My email to the tech support folks at TennisTV has gone unanswered. I didn't even get one of their "it's your fault" responses. There were fears that the ATP feed would suffer the same fate. Not. The ATP feed came on just fine and played with few if any problems.
I'm not a techie but one would think that since Masters Series TV, the precursor to TennisTV, worked fine for so many years the WTA would use the same technical set up as the men's tour does. Apparently the geniuses at the WTA didn't think so.
What happened in parts of the United States was a blackout of the women's final. I have no idea whose interest that served. It certainly didn't get Vera Zvonareva the exposure deserved. It didn't give Ana Ivanovic a chance to be seen by her fans.
Where do we go from here? TennisTv coverage of the ATP begins Saturday, March 28. WTA coverage begins Monday March 30. Deja vu all over again.
Lindsay Davenport belongs in the broadcast booth. Her approach is no frills. Want fangirl hype of the latest hot thing on the WTA tour? You won't get if from Lindsay. When coverage started she would discuss Player X serve and Player Z's return. At one point after a terrible point she said that it wasn't as if Player Z was returning a ball hit by Venus Williams or Serena Williams. She said it more than once. I think they told her to stop mentioning they who must not be named.
During yesterday's women's final she said up front that conditions favored Vera. They also showed a clip of eventual men's champion Rafael Nadal warming up on center court in the brutal wind before the start of the women's final. Lindsay said he was frustrated with his serve but she said that she was sure that by the time he took to the court he'd be fine with his game.
She deserves better than Gimelslob, friend or no friend. Pair her with Darren Cahill and lock PMac in the locker room where he'll be free to gush to his hearts content. She'd even work well with Cliff Drysdale.
Speaking of the Slob did anyone see him manhandle actress Kate Walsh in the broadcast booth? And did anyone hear Sam Gore's polite snark about the way the men's final was going when it became obvious the "efficient" Andy Murray was not going to win?
Gore is a good broadcaster and while he sounds eerily like PMac he avoids the fanboy raving and just talks about the tennis. I'd like to hear more of him on the airwaves.