Two of my favourites, Davenport (not playing for ‘personal reasons’) and Roddick (out for a rotator cuff injury) are not participating. Three time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten, one of my all-time favourites, formally retired from professional tennis this week after an early round loss (I’ll miss Guga). Clijsters’, Henin’s, & Agassi’s retirements have left big holes in the sport. Hingis was forced out of professional tennis due to a cocaine scandal. Baghdatis, Fish, Mauresmo, Safin, Blake, and V. Williams’ were all early round losers. Significant rain delays resulted in the poor already Super Signal coverage (see below) being even worse than usual.
On a happier note, it was a pleasure to see Hewitt go down to Ferrer and Serena Williams go down (once again with little grace or class) to Srebotnik. I was a Hewitt fan in his earlier years. But his success made him too cocky and arrogant for my tastes. Serena’s always been in my bad books with rarely a kind word for anyone.
Perhaps I was spoiled with the terrific first week of tennis at the 2008 Aussie Open. The early round Roddick-Kohlschreiber and Federer–Tipsarevic matches there were probably some of the best matches I have seen in years.
Canadians at the French Open
Seeing any Canadian make it into any grand-slam tennis event is a rarity! This year there were three: 112th ranked Frank Dancevic (whose had some minor successes recently), Stephanie Dubois and Aleksandra Wozniak. Dancevic and Dubois were predictably defeated in the first round by qualifiers. Wozniak was defeated in the third round.
Rogers – TSN – Super Signal Broadcasting
I’m generally delighted with how much coverage Canada’s The Sport’s Network (TSN) gives to all four tennis grand slams on Rogers Cable. But TSN’s weekday coverage of the French Open is always worse than the other three. For the second year in a row they opted to take the ridiculously poor Super Signal feed (its no doubt cheaper) over the far superior USA Network or ESPN 2 weekday feeds that TSN carries for the other three slams. Super Signal can’t seem to find commentators that are either knowledgeable about tennis or that can speak proper English? I’m not sure if it’s an improvement over last year where they provided no commentators – at all – for most matches.
USA and ESPN 2 must have the exclusive rights to carry weekday matches with U.S. players because Super Signal did not cover a single match with U.S. players this week. They did provide a few minutes of Blake’s early round loss to Ernests Gulbis of Latvia – but only when they had exhausted their other rain-delay backup programming.
I so look forward to the day when we are not reliant on network coverage – when we can use our TiVos, Xbox’s, PS3s or Apple TVs to order up the matches we want to see over the Internet.
NBC’s First-Ever French Open HD Coverage
Prior to this last weekend, the only slam available in HD was the U.S. Open. I was delighted to see NBC provide weekend HD coverage of the French Open for the first time (click the pictures in this post). My TiVo Series 3 provided me with beautiful HD coverage of the Federer, Nadal and Djokovic matches. I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll get first time HD coverage of Wimbledon in a few weeks.
Looking Forward to Week 2
With all my favourite women either retired, not playing or eliminated, I have almost no interest on the woman’s side. Ana Ivanovic is the only women’s player that holds any interest for me. She, along with Jankovic, has been too inconsistent to gain my admiration – despite being a cutie. With most of the competition gone (except
Sharapova and the Russians) they stand a good chance of winning.
[June 2 Update: Week 2 just got more exciting on the women’s side with Marat Safin’s younger sister, Safina, taking out Sharipova! I didn’ expect that. Safina recently won her first title in Berlin defeating the now retired Henin.]
A final with any two of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal would be terrific. (Djokovic would meet Nadal in the semis if they both make it that far). Witnessing Nadal tie Borg’s record of four straight French Open titles or watching Federer win the only slam that alludes him would be gratifying.
Let’s hope Roland Garros come alive in the second week.