Final thoughts on Federer-Tsonga; NBC's tape delay; more mailbag
Roger Federer's 11 unforced errors against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is a telling stat
NBC/Comcast's inability to find a place for live major tennis remains a mystery
Top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki is both the beneficiary and victim of the system
Amid all the tiresome discussion of whether the loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bodes ill for Roger Federer, I'm surprised only passing mention has been made of the fact Federer had only 11 unforced errors over the course of a five-set match, including a tiebreaker! Has any player ever lost a five-setter while making 11 or fewer unforced errors?
-- Peter Repetto, Toronto
Even as the women's semis played out there was still a lot of residual talk about Federer's loss Wednesday. And Peter cites the key stat: 11 unforced errors. To the Fed Lovers, this means that their man played well and was simply beaten by a player in the zone. To the more skeptical, it means that Federer was too passive and didn't go for his shots.
I don't think anyone was beating Tsonga the way he played yesterday. Those last 90 minutes comprised a tennis clinic. Sensational serving complemented by strong play in the rallies, strong returns and largely successful ventures to the net. But I can't help think: where were these "zone" matches against Federer in 2004-08? OK, the competition has gotten better and bolder lately. But how come Federer seldom, if ever, looked on helplessly as an opponent played lights out? He always seemed to have an answer. He also seemed to be able to ride out a hot set before prevailing. Yesterday, he seemed almost resigned that it wasn't his day.
The big question here -- and on BBC -- is whether he'll win another Slam. I still say it's possible. You don't have to beat everyone in the field; you only have to beat the seven guys in front of you. Plus you can catch some real breaks. Look at Federer's 2009 Wimbledon draw, for instance, and tell me he wouldn't go through those opponents today. But it's looking like more and more has to go right for that to happen.
I know we're beating a dead horse here, and there's no reason to waste column space on it: But why why WHY does NBC continue to insist on delayed coverage!? Why show Kathie Lee and Hoda and Days of Our Lives rather than Maria Sharapova-Sabine Lisicki match LIVE!? God bless IBM PointStream at Wimbledon.com.
-- Chris Kelsey, Saint Paul, Minn.
Rest assured I'm getting all your angry emails and tweets. But, sadly, it is what it is. The Today Show's ratings rule. Why NBC/Comcast, now with so many platforms, can't find a place for live tennis other than on "big" NBC remains a mystery. The Wimbledon contract is up for the grabs and I've been told NBC could be out of it entirely. Or -- given the landscape and the desire to bulk up Versus -- could be all in. I have to believe that, if NBC stays, one of the preconditions will be live broadcasts and no-tape delay in favor of Hoda making lasagna or whatnot.
One difference I've noticed between the men's and women's game recently is the post-match handshake. The men seem to linger for a second and exchange a few words, while I rarely see the women pause for anything more than a quick "good game." There just seems to be a lot more camaraderie among the men. Is this an accurate observation?
-- Neil, Bloomington, Ind.
Yeah, I've noticed it, too, especially here. Even Rafael Nadal-Juan Martin del Potro -- who had that tense moment -- embraced warmly after match point. Often, it seems that the women shake hands only because they have to. If a gender studies expert wants to weigh in (no doubt referencing socialization, views toward competition, etc.) I'm happy to give space. But I think a lot of this comes down to practice partners. The women almost always hit with men and thus don't often practice together. The male players, on the other hand, often prepare with each other, which helps with camaraderie.
Hey Jon, same Steve here who emailed you last night about the linespeople being reprimanded. First of all, thanks for publishing my question. ... It makes me feel important! But secondly, I didn't mean to "call for her head" in any way. I assume these people have other means of feeding their families during the other 50 weeks of the year, or maybe they do judge smaller-scale tennis matches every week. But to screw up several calls in a quarterfinal at WIMBLEDON? It's inexcusable, and when you consider the number of linespeople employed on Days 1 and 2 of the tournament, when there are 128 singles matches to be played, that particular baseline judge being suspended from the semis and the finals doesn't seem too far-fetched. It really makes you wonder how many matches, prior to the advent of the "challenge" system, have been decided by the linespeople instead of the players on the court. It's downright scary to think about it, in my opinion.
-- Steve, Hoover, Ala.
When I get a free moment, I'd love to study the data re: Hawkeye's effect on officiating. It seems to me that Hawkeye has subtly changed the way officials do their job. Since there's this built-in appeals process, is there less incentive to be accurate? And since there's the chance of being embarrassed by replay, the chair is less likely to overrule bad calls. ("Hey, if the player saw it different, she can object; I'm not sticking out MY neck to do it!") No one would ever claim that officials don't always consciously try their best. But I suspect that initial accuracy -- or at least assertiveness -- has gone down now that there's a "back-up."
An e-mail in your Mailbag about Caroline Wozniacki's latest loss ticked me off in a couple of respects. First, there was a reference to her "milquetoast" opponent. Say what you want about the loss, a three-setter against Dominika Cibulkova, not exactly a shrinking violet, doesn't match that description. Second, can we please put to bed the myth that Wozniacki is No. 1 simply because she "plays" a lot of tournaments? She's No. 1 because she WINS a lot of tournaments. Lots of women play as much, if not more, than Wozniacki. Her ranking points are not freebies for playing. She earns them with good results year-round. Yes, she has not won a major, but let's give her some credit.
-- John, Chicago
I feel for Wozniacki on this issues. She's doing the best she can. She is playing a lot and avoiding injury, both of which are to be admired, especially these days. She is both the beneficiary and victim of a system she didn't create. But let's face facts. When you're the top seed and you consistently lose prematurely at majors, you're going to hear about it.
Calling Cibulkova "milquetoast" is a bit harsh; but that's a match the top player just has to win. (When Cibulkova barely stayed on court for an hour in her subsequent match, a brutal loss to Sharapova, it didn't help perception.) As for Wozniacki winning lots of matches, yes that's true. But how many quality wins does that encompass? Here's her record. You guys judge.
Jon, is this is first all-blonde Wimbledon semifinal story?
-- Joe Johnson, Allentown, Pa.
Funny, I can't find that stat. Jana Novotna-Steffi Graf comes to mind, no?
OK, so my Google search hasn't turned up anything definitive. Is Mardy Fish Jewish? I can find that his father is Jewish, and he had a Jewish wedding. But does he consider himself Jewish?
-- Matt Woburn, Mass.
Mardy (Gefilte) Fish? His wife is Jewish. There are rumors he asked the four questions at Passover this year.
Can't they put Darth Vader masks on Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka to neutralize their screaming?
-- Bert Azevedo, New York
There's an IMG agent speaking with George Lucas as I write this.
Focus a little more on the tennis and a little less on the eye black? Way to put your money where your mouth is and stand up for your ideals and beliefs? I'm inclined to go for the later and wish there were more like her around to spice things up a little in the women's game! What's your take?
-- Matty S. Sydney, Australia
Why are they exclusive? In a sport with no uniforms, why not go nuts with fashion? Express yourself. But it looks a little shticky if you can't back it up with wins.
RZ of Los Angeles: The real reason Roger Federer lost to Tsonga: he was struck by lightning. He's just too modest to say, and the North Korean women's soccer team isn't allowed to speak to the press to confirm it.
Caught a bit of Indy de Broome today. I watched four games, and she lost about three points. Remember the name. And if tennis doesn't work out for her, there's always open-wheel racing.
Joel Haywood of Macon, Ga.: Concerning Joe-Willie, the question to me is whether American Football Hall-of-Famer Joe Namath sanctions sharing his nickname. I'm sure that's where Brad Gilbert (conscientiously or not) got the nickname, and, thus, it is meant to be a very complimentary nickname. But, then again, Brad and I are old.