Fifty thoughts on Australian Open (cont.)
Back to Li Na, we bring in Bob K. of Washington, D.C.: "Jon, now that Na Li (Li, Na) made the finals and with any luck will become a household name across the globe, can we just get the tennis cognoscenti and media to agree on how to say and display her name? Her first name is Na. Her surname is Li. Period. Yes, people in Asia say the last name first, but YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO THIS IN ENGLISH, ESPN2, you don't write "Li Na" in the score box under "Wozniacki" -- it's just "Li," unless you want to write "Wozniacki Caroline" as well. Broadcasters, you don't have to say "Li Na" every time you say her name -- it's just "Li" (or "Na" if you're referring to players by their first name). And, for godsakes, if you ARE going to say her last name first out of some weird respect to the Asian way of referring to each other (even though you are Westerners speaking to a Western audience), please at least be consistent: I don't hear many people saying or printing Date-Krumm Kimiko, Sugiyama Ai or Lee Hyung-taik, and yet the same principles apply. Thank you!"
Nice show from Bernard Tomic, the young Australian who appears to be growing up and growing upwards in equal measure. One former player tells us that a lot of his success will be based on whether he can keep his dad under wraps.
Some homework for all aspiring sports psychologists. Please read this transcript from Dinara Safina.
As a first-round loser (to Nadal) Marcos Daniel received $20,000. And he did not hit a winner. Greg Couch was right; ESPN was wrong. We're talking about a thirtysomething journeyman who has the chance of his career, a date with Nadal on the show court. Don't begrudge him that opportunity.
Not exactly a banner event for American men. John Isner has some guts -- we learned at Wimbledon -- but still needs to work harder physically. Sam Querrey has made strides physically but needs a big upgrade in the fight department. (We'll give Mardy Fish a pass.) Here's the ugly truth about pro tennis. You can earn some points and some cash winning the garden-variety events. But reputations are made at the Majors.
If Wozniacki served up the best press conference of the tournament, this might rank a close second.
Nice to see Nicolas Mahut qualify, reach the second round and pick up $32,000. Time for the French Federation to step up with the Roland Garros wild card.
Michel of Beirut notes: "Right after defeating Anastasia Sevastova in the 4th round, Caroline Wozniacki was signing autographs as usual on over-sized tennis balls, pieces of paper...and then the coolest thing happened, a kid dangled his iPad which Caroline promptly signed (with her finger) without flinching before moving on to more traditional autographs."
If that's a sign of the times, here's a sign of the apocalypse: (Thanks, Mike Oelrich of Fairfax, Va., for the tip.)
Don of London called our attention to the new "pointstream" system shown on the Australian Open website.
An astute reader noted that when ESPN2 went to a commercial break at 14-13 in the exhausting third set of the Schiavone/Kuznetsova match, the next words we heard were the opening of a Hoverround commercial: "Do you have a hard time walking...?"
I feel like we devoted an awful lot of time throughout the week to dissecting ESPN's coverage. For all your gripes about ugly American nicknames, undisclosed conflicts on interest, the absence of Mary Carillo, can we agree that we're lucky to have a network devoting so many hours to live coverage?
The usual full disclosure that from time to time I do some work for the network, but I thought it was another strong event from Tennis Channel in general, and Martina Navratilova in particular. A nod, too, to Joel Drucker, both for his deft work behind the scenes and his ability to treat the imposters of triumph and disaster with commensurate dignity.
Is there a weirder juxtaposition than Aussie Open tennis and the "night exchange" adult-talk commercials that run in some markets during the ESPN telecasts? I'm thinking there's not a lot of overlap in that consumer Venn diagram. "Hey, baby, what are you doing tonight?" "Um, not much. Seeing if Dolgopolov can consolidate a break of serve." Click.
I also like the "night exchange" ad followed by the Viagra ad. Make up your minds, would ya? Are tennis fans sufficiently sexually charged that we require "hot talk, real people" during changeovers? Or are we libidinally challenged?
Pat McEnroe, always straight a shooter, took a few shots at Roddick. "Bush league, and Andy knows it," was the charge after Roddick went headhunting after Robin Haase. P-Mac is damned either way. Accused of being a Roddick slurpee or disloyal to the player who led him to Davis Cup success. Credit P-Mac with serving the viewer and giving his unfiltered views.
We eagerly await the upcoming McEnroe-Borg documentary scheduled to air on HBO. Almost as much as we await Matt Cronin's forthcoming book on the rivalry.
If you had to put the over-under on hours of tennis Serena Williams watched last week what would you say? May she return soon.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim is co-author of the new book "Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports are Played and Games are Won."
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