Saturday, January 24, 2009
So, we're looking at an interesting 2nd week of tennis' first major, even though I haven't had as much time to watch the first Grand Slam as I'd like -- most of the other tourneys are kind of meh, but tennis has the same appeal to me as golf; I have to watch the four Grand Slam tournaments if at all possible. It has not helped that ESPN is seeing fit to tape delay the Open, I theorize that this practice combined with the rise of the Internet has kind of wrecked the overseas majors for people who watched tennis casually because the results are online before you can actually watch the matches.
In the men's draw, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are still around, joined by players like Andy Murray (solid Scot player), defending champ Novak Djokovic, last year's runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and his fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils. Andy Roddick is also still banging around, but the odds of him reaching Open heights are slim.
Much of the women's draw, in terms of American attention, is about Serena Williams and the assorted dash of "Ova", "Eva" and other Slavs/Russians dominating the draw. Honestly, most of them don't play complete games yet (this is according to a tennis-loving friend who knows much, much more about the sport than I ever could), and based on that assessment, I don't expect Williams to cruise, but it would be surprising if she did not repeat. She is still the best in the game when she's on. The only one I'd think of watching out for is Dinara Safina -- just as mercurial as her brother Marat Safin.
My general problem with the sport is that they've slowed down every surface that isn't clay. I highly doubt that a player like Nadal would be winning hardcourt or grass majors even as recently as 5-10 years ago. It's become a baseliner's game of hard ground strokes as opposed to mixing that in with net approach.
That doesn't mean I won't watch, though -- but that tape delay and the fact that there's a live Man U.-Tottenham FA Cup match doesn't help tennis too much. Anyway, when the Round of 16 rolls around, that's when attention must be paid.