Thursday, January 28, 2010

Truth, Dare, Consequences...

by Savannah

When we were kids we played a game with the very long name of "Truth, Dare, Consequences, Promise or Repeat". Needless to say there were some embarrassing moments for the players.

But a child's game is something we play and leave by the wayside as we become adults or so it is for most of us. I'm going to take a step back in time and play the game with what I've seen and heard during the 2010 Australian Open.

The Truth

It's one thing for an internet blogger like me, tied to no major sports outlet, rants about the unseemly coaching from the stands and some players. It's another thing when a mainstream outlet prints a piece by one of it's writers about the blatant cheating of a player. This is what has occurred however.

James Martin has written a piece for NBC Sports in which he states that Justine Henin is too reliant on what he has called "illegal" coaching and that the tennis powers that be need to put an end to it. Here's an excerpt.

As her run Down Under has demonstrated, Henin still relies on Rodriguez. If anything, she appears to be depending on him more than ever. And Rodriguez has been none-too-shy about helping her out. In tennis, of course, on-court coaching is illegal at the Grand Slams. But that hasn't stopped Rodriguez from blatantly signaling and communicating with his charge. He doesn't even attempt to disguise his gestures.

In Henin's quarterfinal match against Nadia Petrova, Rodriguez was shown on television motioning a toss, and then moving his other hand as if to say, "move your feet," when Henin prepared to return the ball. On the next point, Petrova tossed the ball for a slice serve while Henin moved to her right to cut off the ball.

The signaling was so conspicuous that commentator Martina Navratilova had no choice but to call out Henin for receiving illegal coaching. But the chair umpire either didn't notice or didn't care. A similar scene played out in a previous Henin match, when it appeared that Rodriguez was trying to help Henin with her wayward service toss.

Needless to say this was a Tennis Channel broadcast. The ESPN Crew would never notice anything like this. They're too busy repeating the same factoids over and over ad nauseam. To actually report what is happening on court and how it affects play is seemingly beyond their abilities.

Anyone who follows tennis closely knows coaching from the stands goes on. It's only when a player has become so dependent on it that they can't think for themselves and they are lost when they have to do so that it becomes a liability to the sport. Maybe now that a member of the main stream press has commented on it the ESPN folks will comment on it.

While ESPN commentators seem to be oblivious to what is going on in front of them they seem to be able to misrepresent the truth when it suits them. They are big fans of The Monogram and it seems they've been on a tear trying to resurrect his FedGod persona when it comes to injury and illness and how he's handled it.

I didn't hear it myself but fans are saying that during Murray's match last night he referenced his back saying it was sore. The comment from the booth? The FedGod would never do that. Murray, of whom I am no fan, did not take a medical time out and continued to play. They then went on to say that the Monogram has never quit in a match. Yet in 2008 he gave a walkover to James Blake. That's not something that happened 20 years ago. It's also something that can be easily checked.

And can I bring up mono-gate? Yes I'm calling bullshit on that whole situation. Mario Ancic has mono. He has tried to come back but he suffers from the chronic symptoms of that disease. Last time I checked he wasn't gallivanting around a tennis court. Didn't the Monogram take time off for that and use it as an excuse for a period of subpar play?

What about his losses at the year end tournaments where back problems were also cited as the reason for his poor play?

It's one thing to be fanboys/girls. It's another thing to fabricate situations out of thin air that are easily refuted.


When you are used to thinking and acting on your own on a tennis court you can do amazing things. The match of the tournament so far was Serena Williams amazing comeback from a set down and being down 4-0 in the second set. Despite all the work and guidance by Viktoria Azarenka's box they had no answer for the sheer guts and mental strength of the world #1. Who knows if Oracene was asleep behind her sunglasses or not? She could've been. But her daughter pulled herself together and ran Ms Azarenka off the court. This is what happens when you are physically and mentally prepared to play.

Li Na lost to the better player but put up a good fight. Zheng Jie was playing Carlos Rodriguez.


I didn't stay up for last night's 3:30a match. From all the hype I thought Marin Cilic was going to send his opponent home. Didn't happen. I'm reading posts from Cilic fans saying he's not ready yet. It's more like Cilic played a lot more tennis than Andy Murray and that he was mentally and physically fried. As I said I didn't see the match.

The man who had the best draw of the tournament was Novak Djokovic. The Joker played his first real match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and didn't make it to the next round. It was kind of funny that the ESPN crew was chatting away about some bullshit while Novak was dry heaving on the sidelines. His request to leave the court because he was about to lose it caught them by surprise. It was not funny ha-ha if you get my drift. They had just finished saying that Tsonga was about to fold physically. Wonder what match they were watching?


Everyone gets on Mary Carillo's case but she is not the only problem. I loved the shot of Mary Jo Fernandez daughter sitting in The Monogram's box. Patrick McEnroe goes into a swoon when the Monogram takes the court and nothing coherent comes from his mouth.

I dare ESPN to hire Martina Navratilova and replace both Mary and MJF. I dare them to get a real commentator not a fanboy to replace PMac. It ain't gonna happen but that is my fantasy.


lynney62 said...

So nice to have you back, Savannah! Missed you!
I completely agree with everything you've said. In my view, Henin is blatantly cheating! Someone has got to call her on it....I'm not holding my breath though. All the commies are way too busy drooling and blubbering over her "comeback" to see things as they really are. I've sent 2 emails to ESPN regarding this but, of course, there's been no reply......

Karen said...

Savannah, to be fair, Martina is by no means what you would call a mutual observer. If you have ever watched a match that she calls when Sveta is playing, you would think that Sveta is the 8th wonder of the world. She can do no wrong. Frankly speaking I find all the commentators to be a tad boring and what I have done during this AO is to have the AO Radio on and the put the tv on mute. I can still hear the ball striking the racquet and even though sometimes the commentators on the radio go off on their own little jaunt through emails etc., at least they do match calls during points and sometimes even stop talking for a bit to take a breath. PMac and the others are to my mind enthralled with Federer but for some reason I dont think Federer is as enthralled with them. I dont think there is anything he or his team can do regarding the way his matches are called. To my mind none of the commentators are objective. They are all biased. The illegal coaching of Henin has been a topic of discussion on most message boards these past few weeks and I am wondering if at some point in the final the powers that be may tell the umpires to be on the lookout for it. This is nothing new and has been going on for sometime. As to the Cilic/Murray match, Murray has finally been doing what everyone has been telling him to do (including Federer) for quite some time. I think all players whether they realise it or not use some type of injury to explain a loss. If they dont, their fans certainly will. Rafa right now is taking a beating on message boards because some folks felt that he should have finished the match, eat the bagel rather than retire. Even though I was cheering Rafa on during that match, I do not agree with that particular decision. Injuries affect every player. If Serena loses tomorrow night to Justine die hard fans of Serena will say that her mummified legs were the cause. If Justine loses it will be because she is not yet match tough plus she is also carrying a thigh strain. Even I as a club level player has used the injury excuse to quit matches - LOL

vw said...

Murray kept grabbing at his back during the first set when Cilic was beating him. Later on, one of the talking heads, PMac maybe,said it was a "scoreboard" pain and when he started winning the back was fine.

After Djok was up by two sets he was burping, dry heaving at the changeover. I don't think he was faking and Brad Gilbert said he would probably tank the 4th and see if he could feel better for the 5th set, which he couldn't do.

Much as I don't like monogram, I am so sick of the love fest going on for Murray. Every single talking head in the world is picking him to win it all. But then Murray was a favorite at all the GS's for 2009 too.

Fred&Ethel said...

You've been writing some good stuff lately about Serena Williams and Henin. I agree with your criticisms of Mary Carillo as well despite my having been a big fan of her commentary for most of her career. Her harping about the Willams/U.S. Open situation has gotten to the point where she's abusing her influence and position.

But your near constant harping about Federer strikes me as petty, even bitter. It is a fact, and thus easily checked, that Federer has never pulled out of a match in which he was losing. For you to compare that to a walkover happening before ever taking the court is ridiculous. Regarding Mary Jo Fernandez's daughter sitting in Fed's box, perhaps that would have something to do with her father being his agent.

Savannah said...

MJF's daughter was in Fed's box precisely because her father is his agent. That's why her mother should not be in the broadast booth. I've been saying that for years. The two families appear to be very close.

Helen W said...

I used to enjoy the WTA. When first Venus, then Serena, burst upon the scene, so many matches were exciting.

Now, for me, it is one big yawn. There are so many things that are off-putting: this dreadful failure of an experiment with on-court coaching; their failure to do anything about illegal coaching; their penchant for having one or two pet players where the rest don't count. Etc. etc.

skivvy said...

" It was kind of funny that the ESPN crew was chatting away about some bullshit while Novak was dry heaving on the sidelines."


Similar to when Dinara had to retire. They were just blabbing along about what she needed to do win the match while she could barely walk. lol.