Monday, March 23, 2009

The Western Winds

by Savannah

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 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.

End Notes

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.


sG said...

I really hope the WTA hears the fans because what happened this tournament, particularly with FSN, was ridiculous.

I almost wish I had heard this Sam Gore of whom you write. I'm curious as to his "polite snark". However, if he was anywhere near Gimelstob, then I'm glad I missed it. I read a couple of as-it-happened quotes from him over on and was appalled.

Was he really indicating that Andy basically had Nadal on the ropes while Rafa was already up 4-1?! You have a pony in the race, fine, but please do not rewrite events that happened 2 seconds ago right before my eyes. We, in America, had eight years too much of that already.

Savannah said...

The Slob, as well as the boys on TennisTV could see no outcome that didn't have Murray as the winner. Knowing how subtle and low key the Slob is I'm sure he was as patronizing and obnoxious off mike as on. You have to also keep in mind that the Slob had insulted Lindsay a day or so before the final by saying that he'd have to "take her word" on Verdasco having bulked up when anyone with eyes could see the man has indeed bulked up. It was Gore who, once again, calmly backed Lindsay's statement forcing the Slob into silence.

Up until Slob could no longer deny Rafa had control of the first set he made it sound as if any second now Murray was going to take over and show the dominance he'd shown in Rotterdam glossing over the fact that Rafa was having a problem with his leg.. It didn't happen. On TennisTV Murray's cursing jags and insults hurled at the chair were audible. They edited them out on FSN/MSG+. Slob said nothing.
So when Gore, very politely, asked Slob what he thought since he'd picked Murray to win easily it was a LOL moment for me.

Gore is like Fowler was a few years ago. He's new and it shows. It's too bad he was stuck with Slob. When he worked with Lindsay both were fine.

Savannah said...

Oh, and welcome sG.

Anonymous said...

Someone heard this from Slob:

earlier last week on Indian Wells coverage during a Marat Safin match I know that Kusnetzova was put on camera during his match watching in the seats and G'Snob & his co-hort in crime said something to the effect of, "Hey are those two, well you know...(together) or whatever..." to G'Snob ...and he immediately came back with, "Uh, are you kidding me?! She is so far out of his league, don't even go there..
I encourage everyone to complain about Gimelslob, enough is enough.

Here's a link to FSN's feedback page:

sG said...

Thanks for the welcome, Savannah. I've essentially been a long time lurker. :)

I don't see how Gimelstob didn't see how Verdasco's increased bulk had become; in our house we noticed immediately. At the time I thought he had attained a muscle mass that was more hinderance than help. Just my IMO though. The more I hear from Gimelstob the more his fatuous frat-boy mouth really ticks me off. He strikes me as a Grade-A bully. LOL at Gore calling him on his Murray pick. It's not that it wasn't nonsensical going in, but when the writings on the wall it's time to let it go!

Wow, Anon, he really said that in the booth?! Dude really doesn't learn does he? He needs to be off air, like yesterday. How he managed to survive the Kournikova scandal simply by being tucked in a corner somewhere illustrates to me the pervasive sexism in tennis circles. It's a reality has really risen to my attention recently.

Karen said...

What I loved about Sam Gore was when he called out Gimelslob on his previous comment that Andy Murray would win the match and that Andy Murray would deal better with the conditions and that Andy Murray would... and that Andy Murray would ... and that Andy Murray would - you get the picture - until for some reason there was no further mention of Andy Murray other than to say that Andy Murray is better than Roger Federer *this is me ROTFLMAO

Anonymous said...

I guess G-slob must think Sveta is a lesbian or maybe too ugly for Marat, huh? Well, he sucked as a player and he sucks as a person too.