Tag Archive | tennis

Golden Ones Back It Up

In the first week of a major tennis tournament, the focus is not so much on the top dogs, but on the underclass of tennis — the floaters, the young pups, the 29th seeds, the aging journeymen (and women), and the 21-year-olds (or thereabouts) whose teenage years have passed, putting them face-to-face with the reality that they need to begin to figure out life on the tour. In many ways, week one of a major is that fascinating journey in which tennis fans and pundits survey a landscape full of men and women who are confronted with an urgent task: Make use of your talents, or risk waking up, at age 27, with a Lukas Rosolian resume that speaks to nothing other than wastefulness.

The men’s first round is finally done at the 2012 United States Open (a reality that tennis fans should not have to deal with on a Thursday morning; if the United States Tennis Association wants a three-day first round for the men, it should start the tournament on a Sunday the way the French Tennis Federation does at Roland Garros). The women, for their part, are halfway through the second round. Already, we’ve seen so many members of the tennis underclass exasperate and frustrate with early flameouts. Read More…

The Silence of the Slams.

It all started with an apology.

“We are very sorry, we have been asked by the International Tennis Writers Association not to release the transcripts of post-match interviews this year so as not to disadvantage the reporters here at the French Open. You can find many of the relevant quotes in the articles posted on our website.” – Roland-Garros team

The arguments against has been made by bloggers far more eloquent than I, so I won’t repeat what’s already been said. What follows is simply my self-serving musings on the Scriptgate.

There was a time when I wasn’t so obsessed with tennis. I mean, I enjoyed it at school. I watched religiously every Aussie Open, sometimes during Wimbledon too. I talked about it with friends when a slam was on. But was it the primary entertainment of my life? No.

And then, the interwebs happened.

Suddenly, not only could I watch tennis on TV, I could live stream it, download it. I could log onto a forum and chat to passionate, opinionated people across the world about it. There were arguments, debates, there was much teasing. We developed a common language, our own nicknames for players that acted like secret handshakes between friends who have never met each other. Instead of relying on a commentator to introduce a player I’ve never heard of before, I log on to wikipedia. Instead of reading about how a player reacted after a match in the newspaper the next day, I refresh the tournament website until the press transcript comes up. Because of the democratisation of media and information, a lively, inclusive online tennis community has emerged to all of our benefit. The most interesting and passionate debates, observations and opinions on tennis are not in fact found in the Tennis Magazines or newspaper columns, but in online forums, on Twitter and in the comments section of tennis blogs.

Which is precisely why this recent decision by Roland Garros to embargo press transcripts really, really seethes me.

In an age where people continue to demand faster, more transparent, more comprehensive information through new media, tennis has decided to take a step back. The ITWA has decided that we should only hear the story through its mouth – processed, interpreted, spun, analysed. And then we should just accepted it. Simple as that.

But don’t you see? There is no going back.

Tennis writers play an important and (mostly) respected role in offering their “expert view” and contributing to the interaction between formal and grassroots social media, but gone are the days where stories can be monopolized by a few with accreditation. Through transcripts and a variety of media, readers now treat media coverage of the sport with more suspicion than ever. We’ve all compared a press transcript with a news report and seen the half quotes, misquotes, the sensationalised quotes, the paraphrased quotes, the reinterpreted/spun/edited quotes, all used to generate headlines, profit or to make an unnecessary point.

Moreover, given the determination of certain tennis writers to provoke, agitate and surprise attack players into committing media blunder, it has become more important for fans to contextualise players’ words in relation to the question asked.

In other words, fans are no longer satisfied reading processed information and taking it at face value. We want to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. We want to do the processing and the interpreting ourselves, and this embargo on press transcripts is an attempt to reestablish traditional media’s monopoly over who gets to “tell the story”, or – in the words of Roland Garros – who gets to print the “relevant quotes”.

A second aspect of this hasn’t been mentioned, which is that tennis is a sport driven by personality, and personality is rarely evident in the reports of formal media. It was through the minor, “irrelevant” questions asked during press conferences that I got to see the light, dorky side of Roger Federer. It was while reading broken English answers to fluff questions that I grew to love guys like Davydenko. It was through perusing entire transcripts, not just “the relevant quotes” that I saw something sarcastic, intelligent and level-headed about Maria Sharapova, beyond her PR-savvy, glamourous facade. And what about Marat Safin? Press transcripts made him legendary.

What I’m trying to get at here is that fans need access to press transcripts because it is precisely the silly side of press conferences, the stuff that never makes it into the mainstream press, that eventually become the clearest indicator of a player’s personality and fan base. And this culture of personality is what drives spectators to tennis tournaments and consumers to Nike stores.

So how anyone could think withholding press transcripts from fans is good for the commercial success or level of active participation in the sport is simply beyond me.

Now, I’m not going to dump it all on the ITWA. Given the prominence of more “national” sports in many countries (e.g. AFL in Australia, and football in Europe), I can imagine how hard it would be to persuade an editor that you need to fly around to some fantastically expensive destinations at least 4 times a year to cover tournaments involving yellow fuzzy balls. But what’s interesting and I think the biggest downfall of the ITWA’s argument is that it blames its difficulties on the democratising effect of social media. The argument seems to be that the availability of transcripts contributes to the death of tennis coverage rather than its continuing relevance and viability.

Really? If anything, transcripts have played a part, as I have argued, in creating a greater market and an active community of followers for tennis coverage. Instead of harnessing the opportunity and adapting to the changing media landscape, the ITWA decided to take protectionist measures to actively reduce transparency.

What’s more disturbing is how easily Roland Garros accepted the ITWA’s request. So much for “fan interaction” when the most substantial way for fans to gain a glimpse into the sport is now embargoed. What we’re seeing is a move by the tournament website and journalists, the supposed “bridge” between players and the general public, to arbitrarily decide on who tells the story and how they’ll tell it.

Where do the fans and the players (who owns copyright over their own answers) feature in all of this? What is now going to be deemed “relevant” and worthy of press coverage? Who is to notice and report about the views and words of those lower ranked players only a few hardcore tennis fans care about?

While voices within the ITWA resort to a persecution complex to defend their position, the silence from tournament and from players is deafening.

There are things you can do: write to ITWA and let them know that YOU demand information straight from the source, not filtered through whatever colour tinted lenses their writer members wear. Tell Roland Garros on Twitter and Facebook that if they really did take tennis fans seriously, they would provide press transcripts.

But most importantly, be reasonable, be constructive, acknowledge the difficulties for the other side. If I, a slightly hysterical and rude fangirl, can write an entire post without resorting to shrilly, sloganistic personal attacks, so can you.

Play nice, kids.

xx doots

Federer’s Best Moments (from ESPN)

Blogger Note: I’m a little uncomfortable with the thought of Federer losing Wimbledon being his finest hour, in any case, his finest hour is yet to come as he chases after history in the big picture, and Nadal in the immediate, so maybe it’s a little premature for ESPN to be doing this. During the 2011 Olympics maybe. Interesting article nevertheless.

 

 

 

1. 2008 Wimbledon final: Loser and still champion

How can you put a loss as the most memorable moment of a regal reign? Simple: Play a match of exquisite drama and quality on the world’s biggest stage, Centre Court at Wimbledon. Just as Muhammad Ali’s 1971 loss to Joe Frazier revealed how great a fighter Ali really was, this five-set epic conclusively showed how much over the last four years Federer has raised the bar — and how much respect he has generated through his excellence. Just three years earlier, Rafael Nadal had stumbled badly on the grass. But in large part due to the high standards set by Federer, Nadal had enhanced his game. Federer on this day was forced to dig deep and fight as he never had in a Grand Slam final. Rallying from two sets to love down, fending off two championship points in the fourth, Federer threw himself boldly into this match. And though he came up empty, the brilliant ballstriking, tenacity and sportsmanship shown by both players was at once gladiatorial, theatrical and enchanting. What more could you ask from a tennis match?

2. 2007 Wimbledon final: Five for five

Federer had lost the previous two French Open finals and been surprisingly tested by Nadal in the ’06 Wimbledon final. So it was likely the ’07 Wimbledon final would be an even tougher test. Taking two of the first three sets, Federer appeared ready to drop the hammer. But Nadal fought back in trademark style — and Federer grew surprisingly rattled, in the fourth even verbalizing his chagrin with the electronic instant replay system. Nadal’s 6-2 fourth-set victory meant Federer would have to play a fifth set in a Grand Slam final for the first time. It wasn’t easy. Nadal held break points in two of Federer’s opening service games. But it was Federer who pulled away, winning the final set 6-2.

3. 2007 Australian Open semis: Long live the King

An enthused Roddick entered this semifinal feeling optimistic. He’d strongly tested Federer four months earlier in the final of the U.S. Open and later held three match points versus the Swiss at the season-ending Masters Cup. With the legendary Jimmy Connors in his corner, Roddick marched his way through five victories and figured he’d have a good shot versus Federer. No way. Federer emphatically bludgeoned Roddick, his 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 rout a consummate demonstration of power, movement and airtight play. He’d go on to win the title, becoming the first man since Bjorn Borg at the ’80 French Open to win a Slam singles tournament without the loss of a set.

4. 2004 U.S. Open final: A pair of goose eggs

Less than a year prior to taking on Lleyton Hewitt in the U.S. Open final, Federer had suffered a meltdown versus the tenacious Australian in a Davis Cup match, blowing a two sets-to-love and 5-3 lead. At this point Hewitt had won seven of their 12 matches. Hewitt, a past U.S. champ, felt quite comfortable in New York, while 2004 had marked the first time Federer had ever advanced past the fourth round. But as he pursued his first U.S. Open title, the quality of Federer’s play was nearly flawless. He pummeled Hewitt 6-0, 7-6, 6-0. The notion of winning two love sets versus a competitor of Hewitt’s caliber is staggering.

5. 2005 U.S. Open final: No mercy

All sentiment was in Agassi’s corner, and when the 35-year-old American icon took a 4-2, 30-love lead in hopes of going up two sets to one, Federer seemed about to enter a deep hole. But a superb down-the-line backhand earned him the next point and soon enough the two commenced a tiebreaker for the set — which Federer won handily 7-1. A deflated Agassi had nothing left, losing the fourth 6-1.

6. 2004 Australian Open final: Top of the world

Federer has been dominant for so long that it’s hard to recall a time when he wasn’t ranked No. 1. But at the end of 2003 he was ranked No. 2 in the world behind Andy Roddick. At the 2004 Australian Open, though, the man making headlines was not Federer but Marat Safin, who earned impressive five-set victories in the quarters over Roddick and in the semis versus Andre Agassi. Quietly reaching the finals, Federer by this point had earned only one Slam — as many as Safin — so was obviously eager to prove himself an enduring champion. After a tight first set, he handled Safin easily, winning 7-6, 6-4, 6-2 — and also notching enough points to commence his reign as the world’s No.1-ranked player.

7. 2004 Wimbledon final: The best defense is a good offense

Defending a title is a major test. In this instance Federer had to contend with a flame-throwing Roddick, who at this point was the defending U.S. Open champion and out to prove that he, not Federer, was indeed the world’s best player. Roddick shot out of the blocks, pounding big serves and forehands to snap up the first set. Though Federer squeaked out the second to even the match, in the third Roddick went up 4-2 — before a rain delay gave the Swiss time to rethink his strategy. Returning to Centre Court, Federer began to serve and volley — and won the next two sets.

8. 2005 Australian Open semis: Dethroning the King

Defeats usually don’t rank as highlights, but one year into Federer’s reign, this semifinal match validated just how much Federer had raised the bar. Nothing but the very best tennis would do — supreme all-court play on both sides of the net. Playing his heart out on his 25th birthday, Safin fought off a match point in a scintillating fourth-set tiebreak and won the fifth 9-7. It was only fitting that Safin went on to win the title.

9. 2006 Tennis Masters Rome: A compelling loss

The best match of 2006, this one too showed that those who hoped to beat Federer in a long match had better bring out their best stuff. Variety and attack put him on the verge of earning his first clay-court victory over his primary nemesis, Rafael Nadal. Federer led 4-1 in the fifth and even held two match points. But it wasn’t enough. Nadal won this 5-hour, 5-minute epic in a fifth-set tiebreak.

10. 2004 Tennis Masters Cup

In the semis of the year’s season-ending competition, Federer and Safin, the mercurial Russian, played an incredible second-set tiebreak — one that lasted an epic 38 points. Federer won it 20-18. The next night, he dispatched Hewitt 6-3, 6-2 to win his second straight Tennis Masters Cup title.

Bonus: Federer’s finest: A medley

Featuring 10 of Federer’s finest shots, topped off by a nearly 50-shot exchange with Hewitt in the finals of the 2005 Pacific Life Open that Federer called the best rally of his career — a rally he lost, but a match he won.

 

Can’t live without…

 

Every Sunday, I open my Herald, pull out the inside “free” magazine, and flip to the last page, a column titled “Can’t live without”. We all have worldly possessions that are dear to us, they speak volumes about who we are, what we’re like. So here is “Can’t Live Without” dootsiez-styled. 

 

 

1. Paperbacks

Coming from an old-school, ex-commie intelligentsia family, Mum taught me well. I read literary fiction, travel fiction, short stories, political philosophy, historical non-fiction, you name it. I don’t read romance, sci-fi, fantasy or crime. Never had a thing for genre fiction. I don’t read hardcovers, and try to stick to second hand bookstores, opshops and markets when buying paperbacks.

And. I refuse to buy books from Borders.  

 

 

The Paperback Shop

Favourite bookstore: The Paperback Shop, 60 Bourke St Melbourne

 

2. Macbook

I was given my first Macbook from my parents when I was admitted to law school, and there’s nothing quite like these pearly white machines. I hate the fact that Apple’s changing more and more of their laptop computers to a silver case, it’s so wrong. Macs = white. Period. 

 

 

3. Pink Sony Cybershot

I’m not a tech person, and this camera’s getting old, but I’ve come to love it, it matches my phone, and the colour of my bedroom wall, why not?

 

my Sony Cybershot

Carried at all times: my Sony Cybershot

 

4. Frankie

If you love beauty, fashion, but hate the way Vogue and Marie Claire has dumbed down, airbrushed and theorised vanity, Frankie is the mag for you. Beautifully obscure women grace their front covers, indie bands write their own snippets inside, the photography is brilliant in its simplicty, the layout is uniform and neater than most magazines out there. But most of all, this magazine has substance, it doesn’t just resort to giving films and promotional books 4 stars, instead it reviews biscuits based on dippability, or brands of toilet paper rolls based on butt texture. When Frankie talks about relationships, it doesn’t teach you how to suckle on a banana, it asks you what gave you your first glimpse of the grown up world, what you stole from your best friend’s lunch box… Okay, perhaps not the epitome of substance as far as Times or the Economist are concerned. But in between the tongue-in-cheek columns are some pretty serious stuff about social issues and admirable Gen Ys as well. Flove it. I’m taking out a subscription for Xmas. 

 

 

5. Lucas Paw paw ointment

You can’t get this overseas, and I mock all those who don’t own at least 6, randomly thrown into different handbags, wallets, pencil cases, bathroom cabinets, under car seats, on top of the TV, behind your bookshelf, inside your pillow… I mock you all!

 

 

Pawww Pawwwww

Pawww Pawwwww

 

6. Moleskines

Back when I was a teenybopper, Morning Glory stationary, with their barf-worthy English inscriptions (“the fresh breeze of Spring makes me think of you, forever in love…”), made me excited, motivated me to become superorganised. These days, I’m supposed to have better class and taste, and have hence moved on to Moleskines. Something about these black leather bound journals that inspires infinite possibilities. I own 4, increasing by 2 per year (one diary, one notebook for class). 

 

 

7. Ipod Touch

What kind of self-respecting Gen-Y wouldn’t own an Ipod? After the demise of my first iPod (death by dropping into a public toilet, it’s a thrilling tale, I wish to do it justice some other time), I bought the (then) newly released iPod touch, and haven’t looked back since. 

 

8. Tennis

Because if I didn’t mention it, you could have never guessed my obsession with tennis. I can be subtle like that, just like I can be subtle about who my favourite player is. 

 

 

 

OT: 

One of my friend’s messenger nick is reading: “In Tennis Nation, Djokovic approval ratings rival President Bush’s in France.” 😀 I was told this comes from Wertheim.