Sunday, July 29, 2012

O-Lympics 2012 Update: Early Tennis Edition

Medals are still far from being handed out in the tennis events, but I already wanted to give out a few anti-medals for poor performance and unsportsmanlike conduct in tennis at the 2012 Olympics. First, I would like to say that the commentary team assembled for the television coverage on Bravo is pretty painful. The morning match commentary was not so bad, but when Federer got on court they went on total auto-pilot. The 6-3 first set Fed won was actually much tighter than the score would have you expect. Falla was playing well, and played a few tight points down 4-3 to quickly let the set slip away. You would never know this from the commentary. All they wanted to do was read off a list of Federer's greatest hits. They seemed to be not watching the game at all. Falla's not the Greatest of All Time, but he's been around and has had success on grass. He's won two sets against Federer on Center Court at Wimbledon in the past. It's not out of the question that he could score an upset win in the 1st round. The commentators were not interested in Falla at all. They steadfastly assured the viewing audience Federer was going to win. And for a while, though it was close, his win looked very probable, but it certainly wasn't inevitable. Having match point is not the same as having a win. The commentators went on and on about all of Fed's stats. He's a champion! He's a humanitarian! He's an amazing father, husband and son! But they forgot one nagging thing about late career Roger Federer. Despite his amazing game, sometimes right when he should win, he loses his concentration and then loses a match that was his. There's a line from Evita that I apply to Federer in these moments, "he suddenly seemed to lose interest. He grew tired..." Honestly, there are times Roger seems kinda bored with finishing matches. He suddenly makes random errors, not out of nerves, he just takes his foot off the gas. That's almost what happened here. Up 5-4 in the second set on Falla's serve, Fall got down 0-40. Fed had three match points. But 5 points later, it was tied 5-5. Then Roger lost serve and was down 6-5. It was at this point the commentators declared there was no chance Federer would lose the match. Really? What's the point of saying that? It's not true! He COULD lose it. Anything can happen! This point was proven one game later when they were tied a set all, Falla winning it 7-5, with one set to go At that point they still wouldn't consider Falla as a player, they just turned the talk more to what wasn't Federer doing to win.

Look, I wanted Federer to win this match. I want him to have a good Olympics. I'd rather an American won the gold, but I don't need to see him lose early. But he's not a god. You don't have to frame each match like it's his destiny to win because he's awesome. Talk about the GAME. About strategy - from both players points of view. It's not a 5-set match where there are times you have to be heavy on filler to cover lulls in the action. A close tight match should be respected as such. Declaring a winner before the match is close to over is lazy and stupid. Please do better going forward. And congrats to Fed on his 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win.

Now I mentioned unsportsmanlike conduct. Ryan Harrison representing the United States lost to Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 7-5, 6-3 smashing rackets along the way. He slammed his racket in the grass after losing the next-to-last game, and then when he double-faulted on match point, he decided to break his racket by spiking it in the turf. Way to stay classy, Harrison. I do not appreciate Harrison's immature behavior. I don't like his attitude on court and was not pleased when he was named to the Olympic Squad. I'd much rather have a James Blake or Brian Baker who knows how to conduct themselves on an international stage. You were representing your country, Harrison. Who cares if you lost and you were upset? Try not having a hissy fit when representing your country. Take the loss with some dignity.

Elsewhere, it was nice to see Isner, Serena and the Bryan Brothers get through to the next round. Serena's game was especially strong and she looked great in her team uniform. The Bryan brothers faced stiffer competition and had shirts that seemed a little too casual for Olympic play, but they still advanced! Go Team USA!

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