Marion Bartoli took the court late last evening to play Svetlana Kuznetsova in a match that could hardly be described as marquee for the casual tennis fan. For hard core tennis heads it was an intriguing match up. Marion had just formally announced that she was now being coached by Jana Novotna and Sveta had begun to show signs of having her mind focused on tennis.
It turned out to be what I can only call an "interesting" match. Sveta raced out to a 4-0 lead and it looked as if Maid Marion was still adjusting to life with out father.
But then Sveta did a Sveta and ended up losing the first set and the match.
It should be noted that the day session ran late and that the first match of the night session could also be called a match made for tennis junkies. That match featured American player James Blake playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. I thought Tsonga would wipe the floor with Blake who is playing here thanks to a wild card. There was a decent sized crowd to urge both players on and a lethargic distracted Tsonga was ripe for the picking. Blake came out on fire but soon embroiled himself in an argument with Fergus Murphy on esoteric points of umpiring, something he wouldn't let go. I wonder what it is about US based players that when they reach the point in a match where they know they can't win they start a fight. Is that the way US players tank matches?
Anyway this post is about who stayed late to watch the women's match.
The above was posted on Twitter right after the match ended. (I don't know who posted it. It was late when I downloaded it and forgot the poster's name. I apologize for using the picture without accreditation).
There were fans there after Marion won the first set but she took a rather long potty break and that sent everyone home. It's cold in the desert at night and I didn't see fans in the upper deck invited to sit in the expensive seats like they do at the US Open. In no way could it be called a crowd. In fact the attendance at WTA matches has been appalling. Fans will watch lower ranked ATP players or head for the practice courts or the soccer field instead of watching the women play. Neither Victoria Azarenka or Maria Sharapova drew a full house. It's a matter of branding with the WTA as I've said before.
It's the fans loss though. Last night's women's match was a great look at two women, one who has never really lived up to her potential and another, a Slam winner, who had lost her way.
Speaking of potty breaks Tomas Berdych took an epic one the other day. The comms on TennisTV were bending over backwards to explain that the bathrooms are a long way from the court where Berdych was playing and that he wasn't trying to play a head game and psych out his opponent. Yeah, right.
The fans got restless and Berdych reappeared on court just before it started getting really ugly. But as the comms said it wasn't his fault the bathroom was so far away. Uh huh.