Thankfully the business end of Wimbledon, week 2, has not been plagued by torrential rains. The slam has been dominated by the women’s matches. The best match thus far has been Radwanska/Cibulkova, though the Serena/Kerber final may just turnout to be the match of the year. Both are playing excellent tennis and will be competing for much on Saturday. Serena is looking forward to her 22nd slam to tie Graff and Kerber wants to secure her second slam and defeat Serena twice!
This Week in Tennis:
5. Tennis Coverage continues to a major issue, from match selection, to inappropriate cut-aways, inept commentators and sexism. ESPN’s coverage cannot be forgiven for cutting away from Radwanska/Cibulkova Round Four match tie-break on day 7 for an ATP match which was far less competitive or interesting. ESPN1 was fixed on Center Court for Federer/Johnson for the entire match, but cut away from play when women were on Center Court. At least we got some doubles coverage as the Williams and Bryans were playing on Day 8. Riddle me this. Why did Tennis Channel neglect to air the best match on day 7 during their prime-time show? What a missed opportunity to showcase a newly minted slam winner and the player labeled a ninja. The fear of live sports on Twitter may push ESPN and Tennis Channel to improve their coverage.
4. Rio Olympics is looking more and more treacherous. From Zika to Police Striking Rio is not a place I’d want to visit, not even for a gold medal! If any more athletes decline will that push the committee into action? The Olympic games begin on August 6th for tennis.
3. Unruly on-court behavior peaked at Wimbledon this year. Beyond, the racket smashes, thrash talk and ball tosses, Marcel Granollers and Pablo Cuevas doubles match escalated to near physical blows. While this is unfortunate, I am more appalled by the liberal fines levied. By the way, what is done with the fines? I posit that if umpires admonished the tours’ stars at the same rate they admonished players in the double digits, maybe the spike in inappropriate behavior would diminish. Why isn’t Federer and Murray’s despicable on court language ever sanctioned? Why is Nadal rarely penalized for his time violations? Why wasn’t Djokovic’s physical contact with an umpire an automatic suspension? Why does Serena have far more fines than all other tennis stars?
2. The men’s matches have been lackluster. The media has tried to push the Cinderella story of Marcus Willis and the arrival of Querrey through the defeat of the beast known as Djokovic, the return of Del Potro with only a backhand slice, and the supercoach-off between McEnroe, Lendl and Becker. These narratives can’t sell matches. Kyrigios/Murray was largely a dud, even Kyrigios/Brown left me unsatisfied. This evaluation is from a fan who detests when matches are referred to as performances. Tennis needs to reconsider its schedule and the five set matches. If the ATP were a basketball or baseball team I would say the franchise is in a building phase/year. Maybe the semifinals Raonic/Federer and Berdych/Murray will pull me in… But then again the odd makers have already called for a Federer/Murray final. Roger Federer to win 16/25; Milos Raonic to win 32/25. I’d love to see Federer win #18, but Murray has some more confidence and I give him the edge!
1. After six years Venus Williams triumphantly reached the second week of a slam. Her semifinal match against Kerber was highly anticipated. She was defeated 4-6, 4-6 by her opponent’s lefty serve, angles and incredible defense. This match highlighted triumph of perseverance and faith over the ravages of age and an auto immune disease. Venus was weary from over ten hours on court during this tournament. Yet, she competed with a top player and went on to play doubles where she prevailed with Serena against Makarova/Vesnina 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-2. Though she dipped in set two with several costly errors, she stormed back in set 3 with the support of Serena who gave a serving clinic. There were some rallies that Olympic doubles teams will be seeing in their nightmares as they prepare to take on the three-time gold doubles champs. They demonstrated some great net and power games.
Bonus-The Royals Meet