Wednesday, September 13, 2006

US Open Closing Thoughts

Now that the US Open is over, here are some of my thoughts about what has happened in the last two weeks.

  • Why does the start of the US Open Mens' Final have to wait until the conclusion of an NFL game? This is suppose to be one of tennis' marquee events, yet it is playing second fiddle to another sport?
  • By now, everyone most have heard about Maria Sharapova and the mid-match coaching allegations leveled against her a.k.a. 'Bananagate'*. Why not put the coaches out of the line of sight of the players? For example, put the players' boxes at the corners of the court behind where the players sit for changeovers. Then it would be easy to see if a player was trying to communicate with people in the player's box during changeovers.

*For those that don't know what happened, Sharapova's coaching team (her father and her hitting partner) were caught on-camera during passing messages to her during changeovers (have a drink, have a banana). Here is a 2 minute video sequence showing this action from Maria Sharapova's Quarter-final match against Tatiana Golovin (see the 00:05 and 01:38 marks).

"You just can't make this up, folks."

Continuing on...

  • At the award ceremony for the Men's final, there are so many things that Dick Enberg could have asked Roger Federer, but the only thing Dick had to comment on was Roger meeting Tiger Woods? What was the event here? Roger winning the US Open, or Roger meeting Tiger?
  • The Player Challenge/Instant Replay system was a great success, at either correcting or confirming calls by the officials. However, it seems like there are much less chair overrules now, as the chair umpires seem to be too afraid to overrule incorrect calls by the linespeople. This is dangerous, as it puts the onus on the player to use one of their limited amount of challenges. What if the player has no more challenges? A wrong call, coupled with the reluctance by a chair umpire and a player out of challenges could potentially lead to other match-defining blown call. While I can understand having limited number of challenges to cut down on frivolous challenges, a wrong call that can't be corrected due to a lack of challenges is something that we should not see either. I would like to see the system changed so that the chair umpire can check ALL questionable calls on the replay system as they wish (since it literally takes 3 seconds of time anyways), and give the players more challenges (perhaps up to 5) so they don't have to ration their challenges.
  • What are they going to do with the Player Challenge system at Grand Slams that don't have fifth set tiebreakers (i.e. all of the rest of them excluding the US Open). Perhaps 1 extra challenge upon every batch of six games after the players have reached 6-6?
  • I sure do miss the player arguments with the chair umpire. I guess we'll have to go to the Grandstand or outside courts to see that. However, let's hope these player/chair umpire/linesperson disputes don't end up with a player being defaulted, like what happened to Caroline Woznaicki.
  • Something has got to be done about excessive 'grunting' (you might have heard some of it in the above video segment). One should not have to wear earplugs to enjoy a match of tennis (whether you are watching it live, or in the comfort of your own home). If Roger can win (and win ALOT) without grunting, other players should use him as an example.
  • Speaking of excessive, what about players that take excessive amounts of time between serves? Rafael Nadal and Sharapova immediately come to mind; however, they are far from being the only offenders. If the rules say 20 seconds in between the previous point and the next serve, the chair umpire has got to enforce it. They only need to dish out warnings once or twice, and all the offenders will have to fall in line.
  • For Canadians, why oh why must TSN have to put US Open action on tape delay just to cover football? It was a good thing that we could resort to TVUPlayer to get the USA Network over the Internet to fill this void.

Despite the conclusion of the US Open, there are still tennis tournaments to be played. The men have two more TMS tournaments (Madrid and Paris) and the women have two more Tier I tournaments (Moscow and Zurich) in addition to various lower tier tournaments in order to gain enough points to qualify for their respective season-ending tournaments in Shanghai (for the ATP) and Madrid (for the WTA).

Enjoy the rest of the tennis season!

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Anonymous said...

With all the technology in tennis now (racquets, equipment, court surface, officiating, etc), surely someone could create a device to cancel out/reduce the sound of players grunting?

Or would that use of more technology further erode the essense of tennis?

Gotta draw the line somewhere!

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you didn't bring up the issue of treatment of players who suffer from cramping. Do you think players should be treated for cramps during the middle of games (we saw what happened to Baghdatis and Gasquet)?

Or do you think that that is a shortcoming that they should have overcome via more training?

Jason said...

Hi Anonymous

I guess I could have brought that issue up as well, but it wasn't something that I thought needed to be addressed.

It is my opinion that if one player cramps up, they shouldn't receive treatment in the middle of a game. It would not be fair to the opponent, who has put in the training to stay fit, for the cramping player to get treatment.

Sure, it might make for some one-sided play, for an abled-body player to beat a player suffering from cramps, but that is the nature of the sport.

At the end of the day, it's not entertainment, it's a competition.