Saturday, August 14, 2010

Great Expectations

by Savannah


I refuse to get into the would, coulda, shoulda of last nights men's quarterfinal match between Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych. The match speaks for itself. Sure Berdych has to learn to deal with a hostile crowd - all of the top players do - but has the crowd moved beyond being simply hostile when a player is serving and a "fan" of his opponent screams "Are you nervous Berdych?" What is wrong with an official when a player says the crowd is interfering with his play
By the way that also applies to the commentators who are paid to call a match for those of us not in attendance (although you can get those headphones that allow you to listen to the commentary. I find that totally insane since I go to live tennis to see the match through my own eyes not someone else's but that's me). The ESPN announcers almost never give you commentary that improves your knowledge of the game but last night Plan B was also in full fanboy mode(That's you Robbie) so there was no escaping crappy announcers, It was amazing to hear the change in the tone of the commentary when it looked as if Berdych was going to pull the match out. Forced to talk about Berdych the commentators had to scramble to explain why he'd taken control of the match, especially since their fave was the architect of his own destruction. I won't say he orchestrated his comeback because an increasingly frustrated Berdych lost his concentration and the match.
When it was over the commentators heaved a collective sigh of relief and promptly forgot what they'd just seen. As for Lars Graff I used to respect him as an official. Not so much now.
By the way Novak Djokovic won his quarterfinal last night creating the rare semifinal line up where the top four players are competing for a chance to make the Final. And yes there was a medical time out. Shoulder or something.
Marion Bartoli played some of the worst tennis I've ever seen her play last evening against media darling Maria Sharapova. Once again Cliff Drysdale was calling the match and once again I hope he had something over his lap. Marion seemed to expect Sharapova to self destruct but Sharapova, who has been playing very aggressive tennis didn't until the very end and almost gave a set to the struggling Bartoli. Did Maria tire mentally? Lose her concentration? Who knows? Viewers were left to make their own decisions since the post match interview consisted of Cliffy staring at Maria like a love sick school boy while his booth mate asking the questions threw soft balls Maria's way.

Oh well. I guess the WTA is happy since the other darlings Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic are also in the semifinals. Anastasia Pavlychenkova is the woman crashing the private party.

Tweet of the Day

Miguel Seabra was Tweeting live from the Championship event's players party last night. Someone calling themselves "Exposbabe" asked him if the groupies were all age appropriate for the senior tour or if groupies of all ages were in the mix.
He said that sluts, uh, groupies of all ages were in attendance. Hope that made her happy.

End Note
There was a lot of talk about Venus Williams late withdrawal from the upcoming WTA Rogers Cup in Montreal. I have to say I wasn't that surprised. A few weeks ago Venus was doing a publicity thing for the event and those who attened said Venus arrived late, ate throughout the presser, and left. With all the power Tennis Canada has now I guess people want to forget that Canada is one of the least favorite stops on both the WTA and ATP tours. I think one year every top player in the WTA was injured or withdrew leaving a depleted field. Memories are short when it comes to tennis aren't they?

The WTA can't be happy about all the empty seats in the stadium. I'm going to give them a pass for the day matches since no one in their right mind is going to sit in 100+ degrees Fahrenheit to watch tennis but the attendance at night matches doesn't seem to be much better. I'm anxious to see how many show up for today's matches.


TennisAce said...

You know I used to hate the commentators on ATP TV. Oh yes. I did. As a Fed fan, I used to be aghast to listen to them roll over themselves in singing the praise of whichever player was killing Fed that day on the court. Man, I used to hate them, but a funny thing happened on the way to church.

I started reading fans of Rafa started to hate on the ATP commentators because of all the Fed love. I said to myself hold up, these guys are not Rafa fans or Fed fans. They are media commentators. When you get 2 sets of fans telling the same stories then what you have to come with is that they are doing their jobs. I stand by that. I hated much of the commentary last night as every time Berdych hit a winning shot all you could hear was Magnficent, Fantastic, OMG, jaw dropping stuff.

Guess what, the same words were used to describe both players. They also used the same words to describe almost every match on which they do commentary. Jaw dropping stuff, inch perfect, you will not see this anywhere else folks, this is [insert player's name here] at his best.

Yes, they are fan boys but they are objective fan boys. They love the sport and are on the bandwagon of every single player in the ATP. That is why I no longer hate them. I love them because I think when all is said and done they are without a doubt the best colour commentary team in tennis: Doug, Jason and even Robbie.

Onwards... I posted elsewhere that at some point in time players need to get over the crowds, the opponent and everything else. We have seen instances where players have won matches fighting their opponents and the crowd. For nothing is the h2h 9-3 in Fed's favour. Stay in the moment and the rest will take care of itself.

lynney62 said...

Boy, I agree about the commies....I had to mute everything cause I was drowning in Fed-love and feeling nauseated.

Helen W said...

lynney, they even managed to refer to Federer as World No 1 -- again. They did the same thing, for months, back in 2008, after Rafa took over the No 1 ranking.

The networks also worked hard to not let us really know what was going on with the fans. But there is no excuse for allowing a fan to bellow out "are you nervous Tomas" as the guy is in his service motion, and "You suck Tomas" as he is about to strike the ball. At the very least, the umpire should issue a clear warning to the crowd and play a let.

TennisAce said...

From what I understand from what was happening on the ground from people who were there, those so-called fans were booed. I also understand that the shout outs were not only to Berdych but to Federer as well.

Stuff happens. You have louts all over the place at tennis matches. Who can forget someone yelling out during Miami 2008,Roddick v. Federer, Ace his ass Andy. yeah, it happens.

Savannah said...

The commentators were on Carlos Bernardes from jump tonight about getting the crowd under control. He did say something more than once. Eventually it seemed to take. They went on to say how the crowd was out of control last night.

Helen W said...

TennisAce, when the actions of the crowd start to interfere with the match then the umpire needs to get control of the situation. I am not talking about booing errors or double faults, obnoxious as that may be, but about actions that clearly distract the players in the middle of points. For heaven's sakes, they don't play while fans are taking their seats -- should they expect the players to play while fans are screaming at them?

It doesn't seem to me that it takes a rocket scientist to figure out how the umps can control the situation. If they know which fans are causing disruption, they can toss them out. They can warn the crowds and explain expected behaviour. And they can call a LET if a player is subjected to unruly behaviour, as Tomas Berdych clearly was in his match against Federer.

TennisAce said...

HelenW, this was a best of 3 set match. A best of 3 set match. Everything that happened in that match, happened at one point in the match. 6-5 Berdych going into a deciding tie-break. Yes there were people in the crowd that were unruly. Yes, they should have been evicted or otherwise. There was no need for a let. A let is played when something interferes while the ball is in play. The ball was not in play. Berdych was standing on the service line preparing to serve when someone called out the really obnoxious statements.

It is similar to what happened when Berdych played Nadal in Madrid. It is similar to what happened with Serena in Australia this year in 2 matches. One in the final against Justine, the other against home town favourite, Stosur.

A crowd can affect a match by its very silence against players or its raucous support. At Wimbledon this year the paucity of applause for Serena's winners would have deflated any other player. Venus got booed at Wimbledon this year when she played on Court 2 against Groth. She went out there and she played her match.

When Venus got knocked out in the quarters by Pironkova, her every error was applauded. She held her head high, smiled at her opponent and walked off the court.

Players have to learn to block the crowd out of the equation. I have absolutely no sympathy for Berdych in this situation as I have seen other players handle tougher situations like this before and got past it. Hell, Serena was called the "N" word at a match in Miami and had the idiot ejected. Berdych needs to grow a pair.

Helen W said...

TennisAce I understand your points, and I certainly agree that dealing with unruly crowds goes with the territory. The boundary for me is if crowd action actually interferes with ball striking. If a yobbo in the crowd screams out while a player is about to address the ball, then I think the player could well be affected, and the umpire should call a let. In general, I think Lars Graf could have tried a lot harder to get control of the situation, especially as Berdych had told him that his play was being affected.

But I have certainly heard of worse, and seen worse. Heck, Althea Gibson was ROUTINELY called the N-word while she was playing. I remember that incident in Miami with Serena -- I could hardly believe it, but at least they tossed the jerk.

One of the worst matches I ever watched was Baghdatis playing Agassi at a US Open night match (forget the year). As Marcos was lying on the court writhing in agony from cramps, he was showered with a chorus of boos from the drunken mob in the stands. OK, Baggy should have been in better shape, but NOTHING could justify the actions of the crowd. I couldn't even watch the handshake at the net -- something I *always* want to see.

vw said...

Something like the Berd thing just happened today.

I am in Cincy for the week and just saw the women's final. I was behind the umpire in a box.
Maria was about to take the match. After the rain, the crowd was screaming for blood, Sharapova blood. They were very loud and rude, cheering her double faults and at changeovers were chanting, let's go kim, let's go, clap clap, over and over. I was neutral until then. It was as if Sharapova was coming from Moscow on a tank and invading American cincy. Really, I
haven't seen this here. A few Maria fans tried to prop her up but the rain break killed her and the blood-frenzied crowd didn't help her morale. Saint Kim won it due to an unbelievable collapse by Sharapova with the crowd's help. My husband and I were ashamed. I can only imagine what poor Tomas had to go through.
Pam Shriver was right in front of us and she looks very thin. I guess tv does put weight on people. This tourney is so intimate, I love it but it was so F#&king hot and humid that I felt like Kleybs with the hair thing.

lynney62 said...

Crowd behavior is why I love Wimbledon so much.....rarely, very rarely do you have crowd rudeness there.....they show great respect for both players on the court and it makes the matches feel very serious and important. Definitely my favorite tournament.

TennisAce said...

Well vw, Sharapova finally knows what it feels like to play before a hostile crowd. Again, it was not the crowd that caused her melt down. It was the fact that she had no idea what to do once Kim picked her play up. Sharapova had 3 match points on Kim's serve and after the rain delay she had another chance to serve for the match and still could not convert. I would say this one goes on the record books as a loss because Sharapova lost her way.

HelenW, I remember that match with Agassi and Baghs. Again, players have to learn to block it out. It is by no means easy. Not at all. I understand that in yesterday's match people were yelling obscenities at Federer.

I think it was Savannah who mentioned here or maybe someone else that the crowds at tennis matches are becoming very unsportsmanslike. The first sign of this was at Wimbledon but it was happening long before that. People's hatred of other players have been growing in abundance for a long time now. We jokingly refer to them as FeDals but there is something a tad more sinister happening here.

All power to the players for remaining very friendly and showing the so-called fans that despite the on court rivalries, they are indeed good friends who have a great deal of respect for each other. I wish sometimes the so-called fans will see this.

There was an incident recently over at Federer's website where someone posted that they hoped his girls got sick and died. That is the level of hate that permeates tennis these days.

We who post here and other sensible blogs are quite happy to call Fed and Nadal and Murray and others nicknames and make nice but there are some out there who will do great harm to these players if they get the chance all in the name of being a fan.

Helen W said...

TennisAce says:

There was an incident recently over at Federer's website where someone posted that they hoped his girls got sick and died. That is the level of hate that permeates tennis these days.

That is absolutely shocking. Beyond disturbing.

It was indeed disappointing to see boorish behaviour even at Wimbledon this year. Good on Hanescu for walking out.

So what can we, as reasonable folks (I hope), try to do to mitigate some of this hate in our sport?

Helen W said...

Further to my last post, I have to say that the level of hate I have seen by fans posting on Roger's official website is beyond anything I have seen on any other fan board. I used to be a member, but I am too repelled to bother anymore.

Savannah said...

i don't hide it, I'm a RafaKad. But I very rarely visit his official site or fan sites for one reason. When Google Maps first came out there was a contingent seriously trying to figure out how to find the exact location of his home. That was beyond the pale in my opinion.

I am shocked that any sane person would wish evil on anyone's children. Dislike the player, fine. But hating on his kids? No way that should be done. I hope the folks who run Roger's site have permabanned the assholes.

The same goes for the idiot(s) who post vile comments to players on Twitter and then whine about why other fans are hating on them. One culprit has been exposed and the incidents, at least the reported ones, have stopped or decreased.

We know the reason they act the fool at matches. Why do they act the fool on line? Is it because they're anonymous? They're twelve? Mentally ill?

It may be that we fans are going to have to police ourselves. I don't have another answer right now.

TennisAce said...

Savannah, yes I think the answer would be that we have to start policing ourselves. Bloggers are always of the view that I am a blogger and I am entitled to my opinion and because many bloggers want the hits they entertain some really nasty characters on their blogs.

I understand that over at the RF website (a place I hardly ever visit as I find the Fed love quite irritating and bordering on the psychotic) they have actually deleted and perma-banned members who spew hateful language.

As for the idiots trying to find Rafa's home, I hope he has guard dogs and other stuff posted. Some of the women who posts on some sites, when they talk about Rafa you get the feeling that all they want to do is have a roll with him in the hay. Nothing wrong with that, but these are women in their 40s and 50s. Good grief woman, enjoy the game and the personality. No need to have orgasms over the fellow. LOL

Some have even taken to hating on Rafa's girlfriend. These people are sick.

Helen W said...

Like both of you, I very rarely visit fan sites. Of course one expects to find general enthusiasm for the player whose site it is. What I didn't expect was the level of hate against other players -- particularly on Federer's site, with the hate almost completely directed at Nadal, presumabaly because these fans find him a threat to their favourite.

It may be an interesting psychological study to contemplate why a player attracts a certain type of fan -- indeed why each of us is a fan of our particular favourites. But it's downright scary when someone's liking for a sports figure brings out such negative energy.

I have no problem with great-great grandmas fantasizing about Rafa; I have a huge problem if that turns into hate for his girlfriend.

It's all so profoundly disheartening.

Craig Hickman said...

There are fan(atic)s and there are lunatics.

Anyone who wishes harm on another is clearly unstable.