Wednesday, June 5, 2013

There Can Only Be Two...

by Savannah

We're down to the Final Four - the four women who will compete to make the Roland Garros Women's Final.

Maria Sharapova photo 07b03547-5c6e-48b7-8c61-71cd488d1889_zps13997bb7.jpg
All eyes will be on defending women's champion Maria Sharapova. I don't think she had the most difficult draw on her way to the semi finals but Jelena Jankovic took the first set 6-0, a score that had to shock Sharapova and her fans. One commentator said he couldn't remember the last time Sharapova had been bageled. That's funny I can and I don't get paid to know things like that.
I'm sure she's going to come out swinging and screaming. It's funny how sometimes you can barely hear her and at other times it's like the hounds of hell are on her tail.

victoria azarenka photo a6c49da0-7f11-41e1-b9be-0bcffb90208c_zps50acde9d.jpg

Sharapova will play Victoria Azarenka, a woman who's blood curdling war cry bothers me more that Sharapova's. Azarenka played Maria Kirilenko to make the semi finals. Kirilenko had a nice run in Paris but at this stage in a tournament the cream is rising to the top and while Kirilenko will step into the top ten she's not at the top, in the top four or five however you want to look at the top women players. Who will win? Don't ask me. I'm always wrong about things like that.

serena williams photo 1a3f952a-77b7-49ba-9b3a-e8b4988c8252_zps2df50004.jpg

What can you say about Serena Williams that hasn't already been said? Sure we could remind that guy in Germany that she was the last one to serve a bagel to Sharapova but I'm sure someone has already told him that. Serena caught a lot of grief for saying the only person who can beat her is herself but more and more comms from varying nations are echoing those words.

That she is vulnerable was proven by her match against a resurgent Svetlana Kuznetsova who seemed to go back to the future and play the kind of tennis that led to her winning two Grand Slams. Serena literally stopped moving her feet, hell stopped moving period, and lost the second set in spectacular style. It looked as if Sveta was going to take her out but Serena, as only she can, twisted up her hair and got to work winning the third set and the match going away.

Serena will not be able to have such a lapse against Sara Errani. I watched Sara beat Aga Radwanska at her own game with a tenacity and focus worthy of her top five ranking. Most people think this match is a gimme. I won't go that far. Serena will have to win it.

Roland Garros Miscellany

There have been two huge complaints about this years Roland Garros, neither of which fans can affect.

One was the broadcast schedule. I'm in the United States and coverage was spread between Tennis Channel, ESPN2/ESPN3 and NBC. If you live in the States and were happy with the coverage I'd have my medication levels rebalanced. To say it has been horrid is putting it mildly.

I don't have Tennis Channel but I did download the APP and attempt to watch the streaming it provided on its website. For some reason Tennis Channel online or mobile and I don't get along. The service worked well for many people BUT when it was time to go it was time to go.

The same with ESPN's coverage. They have their format and they stick to it but I have to say I heard much more analysis this year. I think that comes from hashtags that expressed frustration about the gossipy chit chat that used to pass for analysis. I didn't see any of those hashtags on Twitter this go around. Good work guys.

Unfortunately NBC's coverage doesn't seem to be aware it's analysts have a problem. It's painfully obvious that John McEnroe watches very little tennis and has no use for the modern game. He, along with Mats Wilander, want to go back to their halcyon days and pretend the bigger more physically fit players haven't changed the game permanently. Mary Carillo is a parody of herself. And yet NBC is the network that will carry the Finals. I plan to do what I've been doing for the last week and a half. And that is watch live streams from British Eurosport. I can avoid Wilander easily. And NBC can't stop them from providing their coverage to whoever can get access to it.

The other issue was the court assignments. During the rainy first week it seemed that WTA matches, always scheduled to occur fourth/last, were the ones being cancelled and rescheduled. Television courts? They were the provenance of the ATP unless your name was Williams, Sharapova or Azarenka. Oh yeah, and that other top player Ana Ivanovic. Or you were French. While fan pressure seems to have set EXPN2 on a better course when it comes to commentary the FFT has signed a long term contract with NBC which means we'll be subjected to the inanity and outright stupidity of NBC commentators no matter how we fans feel.

I should mention in passing the the Roland Garros APP for non French fans was awful. It seems that if you were in France you got a better product.

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