If You Don’t Watch Tennis, You’re Really Missing Out – The 2015 US Open

The 2015 US Open was a highly entertaining two weeks of tennis even though nothing that I was rooting for came to pass.  These are just some quick thoughts I had about the fortnight (I don’t know why, but tennis seems to be the only place where the word fortnight has survived into the 21st century).

Serena Williams is still the greatest of all time.  I really wanted her to win the tournament, the grand slam, and tie Steffi Graf’s career wins in majors, but the fact that she lost in the semi-finals doesn’t change her status at all.

The Venus against Serena match was way more fun than it had any business being.  It was so overhyped that I almost didn’t want to watch.  But it delivered.

Roberta Vinci (the woman who beat Serena in the semi-final) was totally endearing in her interview after the match and after her loss in the final.  It’s too bad doubles doesn’t get more attention because I would have liked to have known about her earlier.

The women’s final was a lot of fun.  Vinci actually plays the net, which you just don’t see in women’s tennis since Martina Navratilova retired.  Flavia Pennetta played a great match and deserved the win.  Her acceptance of the trophy was great, especially the bombshell of announcing her retirement right there.

ESPN needs to learn more about tennis if they are going to be the main source of TV coverage.

A Grand Slam is when a person wins all four majors in one year.  Calling it a “Calendar Slam” or “Calendar Grand Slam” is redundant and makes it sound like you know nothing about tennis.

The commercials were a better mix than usual for tennis.  While there were still plenty of Mercedes and IBM commercials, there were also some ads for things that normal people can buy, like New Balance sneakers.

I still think Rafa Nadal is done as a great player.  But, I don’t want to take anything away from Fabio Fognini (the guy who beat him).  Fabio was a fun player to watch.

I was completely fascinated by Murray against Anderson and Federer against Isner.  Both matches featured one player with a huge serve and one player with a fantastic all around game.  In Murray vs. Anderson, the huge serve won and in Federer vs. Isner, the all around game won.  But it was like watching the same match twice with different results.  They also showed why tie breaks are stupid.  Both matches would probably still be going on without tie breaks.

It is completely unbelievable that Federer can still be this good at 34 years old.

It’s kind of unfair how much better Djokovic is than everyone else right now.

The US Open

For anyone who doesn’t pay attention to tennis, the US Open starts today.  This is looking to be a great tournament.  Serena Williams is trying to win a Grand Slam (again, for anyone who doesn’t follow tennis, that is winning all four majors in a calendar year).  If she does it, it will be the first Grand Slam since Steffi Graf did it in 1988.  If Williams wins, she will also tie Steffi Graf with 22 major victories for the most in the open era.  Needless to say, all of the pressure is on Serena, but I really hope she does it.

On the men’s side, it is really Novak Djokovic’s tournament to lose.  Barring some kind of weather or injury craziness, Andy Murray is the only one with a realistic shot of beating him.  I like both of them, so I would be fine with either of them winning.  I’d also be happy to see all the cards land right for Roger Federer to win one more, but I’m not optimistic about that.  What I’m really hoping for, though, is to have some 20 year old that I’ve never heard of have a magical two weeks and win this thing.  Like I said, I like the favorites, but the past decade of men’s tennis has been so dominated by a handful of names that I’d just love to see someone new.

I look forward to the US Open every year because it is the only major that lands in my time zone, so I can actually watch the matches.  It is also a different kind of tennis, though.  It is louder.  The crowds play a major role.  And it’s just plain fun.  Even if you are not a tennis fan, this is a fun tournament to watch.

Some Thoughts On Wimbledon 2015

Wimbledon 2015 finished today. It was an excellent fortnight. Here are some thoughts I had about the tournament.
Serena Williams is amazing. Her match against Heather Watson was riveting. And while the result of the final was never really in doubt, the fact that her nerves were apparent somehow made her more likable.
Federer is old. I hate to say that since I have more than a few years on him, but it’s the truth. Having said that, he still plays an extraordinarily high level of tennis. Djokovic is the only player right now that is consistently better, which is amazing.
Tiebreakers are stupid. The Isner/Cilic match was the most entertaining of the tournament. It was suspended due to darkness at 10 all in the fifth set. It was a real bummer that Cilic won so quickly when they resumed the next day.
I still wish they showed more doubles on TV.
There was something wrong with the women’s rankings. Williams had to beat her sister, Azarenka and Sharapova before reaching the final. At least one of those should have been on the other side of the bracket.
The commercials make me think I’m not the target audience.
Djokovic is clearly the top of his generation.
It was nice to see some net play. I’d still like more. I remember when the court was worn near the net. Now everyone stays at the baseline. It was a smart strategy on Federer’s part. Too bad it wasn’t enough. It would have been nice to see him get one more.
I hope Serena wins the US Open to tie Graf and get the slam. New York will be rocking if that happens.

Rooting

Before the finals started, if someone had asked me whom I was rooting for, I would have said Cleveland without hesitation. They were technically underdogs, even with the world’s greatest player. Cleveland is famous for their lack of sports success. I’ve been to Cleveland and liked it. Add to that the fact that San Francisco wins the World Series every other year, I’ve never been to San Francisco and the city is awfully braggy, and the choice is obvious.
However, as I watch the finals, I can’t help but root for Golden State. It’s weird. James is clearly the best player on the floor, but the Warriors are just more fun. They seem to enjoy the game. I keep telling myself that I’m rooting for Cleveland, but I keep finding myself rooting for Golden State.
I guess it just goes to show that Hume was right. Reason really is a slave to the passions. I’d like to see a game seven, but I’d better stop lying to myself and admit I want the Warriors to win.

Some Thoughts On The 2015 French Open

The 2015 French Open ended today.  Unfortunately, with the six hour time difference, I wasn’t able to watch much of the tournament.  I saw most of today’s men’s final and one of Serena’s early round matches, but that’s about it.  The rest of the two weeks I had to rely on highlights.  I do still have some thoughts, though.

Serena Williams is amazing.  She won her 20th singles Grand Slam.  At this point, there’s no way around it, she is the Greatest of All Time.  She’s old for a tennis player and still dominates.  She can vomit mid-match and still dominate.  I keep waiting for one of the younger players to catch up, but it doesn’t look like it will happen any time soon.

Wawrinka just simply played better that Djokovic to win the men’s tournament.  When I started watching the match, I was rooting for Wawrinka.  For the past ten years, I have pretty much been rooting for anyone not named Federer, Nadal or Djokovic in all of the major tournaments.  As it became clear that Wawrinka was going to win, though, I started feeling bad for Djokovic.  Federer is definitely the best tennis player I have ever watched.  Many people put Nadal right behind Federer (there are even a few crazies that say Nadal is better), but I actually think Djokovic is a better all around tennis player than Nadal.  Nadal is the greatest clay court player of all time, there’s no argument there.  Djokovic is superior everywhere else, though, and it isn’t particularly close.  I thought that if Djokovic could pull out a French Open title, which would get him the career slam, it would solidify his legacy ahead of Nadal’s.  That being said, I’m happy for Wawrinka.  The sport is better when it spreads the wealth.

I am a fan of commercials in general.  But, the commercials during the French Open, and most tennis tournaments, are really off-putting.  Every time they showed a commercial, I couldn’t help but think that they don’t really want me watching.  Half the commercials are targeted specifically at officers of large corporations.  The other half of the commercials are for watches that cost more than my car, cars that cost more than those watches and investments.  I would have loved to have seen an ad for something that I might want to buy or at least something that I might be able to afford.

Doubles is really fun to watch.  They should put it on TV more often.

I really want to see some good young players.

I can’t wait for Wimbledon.

Brady’s Soft, Squishy Balls Have Made Him More Likable

I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but I really think Roger Goodell is trying to destroy the National Football League.  Since he took over as commissioner, everything he has done has made the league less enjoyable.  The coddling of quarterbacks makes the game itself less interesting.  The way they have “addressed” the issue of head injuries is criminal.  And they way they have ignored and celebrated actual criminals leaves a bad taste in my mouth every time I watch a game.  And let’s not even talk about the replacement refs.  I used to watch football almost every Sunday during the season.  Now, I’ve missed two of the last three Super Bowls.

I’ve never been a Patriots fan.  I grew up with the Giants and always prefer the NFC.  Tom Brady has always been vaguely annoying.  Not in the “I want to punch him in the face” way that Eli Manning is annoying, but I’m not a fan.  He’s just boring.  So, when it came out that Tom Brady played the AFC Championship game with balls that were softer than regulation, I thought it was pretty funny.  It was like Joe Niekro being caught with an emery board in his pocket or Sammy Sosa getting caught with a corked bat.  It’s great fodder for jokes for a couple of weeks, but on no level is it a big deal.

However, the press and the league decided that it is a big deal.  They are saying that the very integrity of the game has been called into question because Tom Brady likes playing with soft balls.  If this is that big a deal, why weren’t the Vikings and Jaguars punished for playing with heated balls?  If this is that big a deal, why does the rule only stipulate a fine?  The only reason I can think of is to make Brady a scapegoat for every mistake the league has made during Goodell’s tenure.  He’s finally showing that he’s tough and will do what he has to to protect the sport.  Only he picked such an inconsequential thing to get tough about that he just looks like an idiot.

There is no way around the fact that the NFL and Roger Goodell have made the decision that deflating some footballs is more serious than illegal drugs, child abuse, battery, and purposely trying to injure other players.  That makes Goodell and the NFL the bad guys.  And if they are the bad guys, Tom Brady and the Patriots have become the good guys.  I never thought I’d say this, but go Patriots.