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NBC sets new low at Wimbledon

NBC did it, again. Congrats, I did not think it was possible.

After providing terrible coverage of Roland Garros, NBC had to one-up itself at Wimbledon.

Sure, I’ll cut NBC some slack for airing matches on tape delay while equally important matches were going on live; I’m used to that by now. If I want to watch something live, that is what justin.tv is for, right?

But what I won’t cut NBC any slack for is its disrespectful coverage of doubles.

Okay, it was slightly better than at Roland Garros, when NBC flat-out did not air the men’s doubles final after the women’s singles final, because, well, NBC at least aired the gentlemen’s doubles final at Wimbledon.

But the compliments end there.

There was no excuse for NBC airing this match on about 10 minutes tape delay just so they could squeeze in an extra interview or three with Venus and Serena Williams. It’s not like they couldn’t air those interviews on some changeover during the match.

Oh wait, my bad. That interview would be outdated by the time they brought Serena into the studio for another interview, causing NBC to just not air the first game of the fourth set of the championship between Bob and Mike Bryan and Nenad Zimonjic and Daniel Nestor.

There was no excuse for NBC not knowing how old Nenad Zimonjic is and then finally figuring out his age an entire set later. It’s not that hard to do a little research the night before you are supposed to commentate on a match, right?

And there was no excuse for John McEnroe to go off-topic for games at a time on some side story that had nothing to do with the match at hand. It got so bad at one point that even McEnroe realized he was disrespecting the match.

“This has become an interesting game while I was boring you with that story,” he said after Bob and Mike Bryan lost consecutive points on their serve to bring the match to a rare deuce game.

McEnroe actually started commentating on the match after that, at least attempting to care about four people he quite possibly has not seen play since the Olympics.

Oh, need I forget in the third set, when Ted Robinson, the man who as play-by-play announcer should actually be paying attention, made the stunning observation that “there’s not much between them right now, no breaks, slim tiebreakers”

Wow, never thought a 7-3 tiebreaker was “slim.”

When the team actually was talking about doubles tennis, they showed a great supply of ignorance.

Like, for instance, when Mary Carillo decided to speak, something the world would be much better if she chose to do less often.

“Australia is the only place besides Wimbledon where they show doubles the respect it deserves,“ Carillo said, a noble observation. “They put the doubles on center court at a time when people are still around to watch it.”

Wimbledon puts the Gentlemen’s doubles final on Centre Court right after the Ladies’ singles final each second Saturday. Australia puts the Men’s doubles final right after the Women’s singles final on Rod Laver.

That respect they don’t show at Roland Garros.

Oh wait, they do.

In Paris, they put the Men’s doubles final on Philippe Chatrier right after the Women’s singles final.

You would think NBC would know that since it was in Paris for Roland Garros.

Oh wait, everyone with NBC left right after Svetlana Kuznetsova won her second major championship.

But none of these were the icing on the cake; none were even close.

Sure, they showed an unwavering amount of disrespect and ignorance, but they also made us cringe when Carillo, McEnroe, and Robinson said them.

This? This made me laugh, and I hope it made you laugh too.

McEnroe was trying to talk up the talents of the doubles specialists, and I applaud him for that. But that doesn’t enable him to say something crazy, does it?

“If Roger [Federer] and Rafa [Nadal] played together in doubles, would they be able to beat the Bryan Brothers?” McEnroe asked, a question that doesn’t need answering.

Nonetheless, he felt he could answer himself.

“I don’t think so.”

What?!? Seriously?!? Are you high?!?

The two best singles players in the world would destroy the best doubles players as long as they had enough chemistry so as not to kill each.

Fact, end of story, thanks for trying.

No disrespect for the Bryan Brothers intended, but if Federer and Nadal played together in doubles, they would smoke Bob and Mike. In straight sets. Without breaking a sweat.

Thank you, come again.

Take, for instance, Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Wawrinka has spent barely a month of his life in the top 100 in the world in men’s doubles; Federer has only played sporadically since winning his first major singles championship in 2003. Both were in the top ten in singles.

They won the title, dropping only one set from five matches.

Among their victims? The Bryan Brothers, as well as doubles specialists Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes of India.

Neither pair took as much as a set from Federer and Wawrinka.

Or, how about we look at James Blake and go all the way back to Thursday.

Blake playing doubles? At Wimbledon? How funny. Do you think this is still 2002?

Yet Blake, who until this year would play doubles in only three or four tournaments over the year, decided to partner with Mardy Fish at Wimbledon and they made it all the way to the semifinals.

And once he got there, he and Fish took the defending champions to five sets before bowing out to Zimonjic and Nestor after a classic 10-8 final set.

But John McEnroe would not know about singles players doing well in doubles. Why should he? Not like he ever played doubles.

Oh wait, he did.

McEnroe was a number one player early in his career in doubles before focusing more on singles.

Nonetheless, he continued playing doubles sporadically in the middle of his career before returning with more focus near the end.

At Wimbledon in 1992, McEnroe and singles specialist Michael Stich beat top-ranked John Fitzgerald and Anders Jarryd in the second round in straight sets.

Two singles specialists beating the top pair in the world? Hmm…

Three more straight sets wins later, McEnroe and Stich fought off doubles specialists Jim Grabb and Richey Reneberg to win the longest fifth-set final in Wimbledon history, 19-17.

Yet, according to McEnroe, if Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were to play together, they would be prohibitive underdogs to Bob and Mike Bryan? Yeah right.

Again, no disrespect intended to the Bryan Brothers; they are the deserved number ones at their trade.

But would they beat Roger and Rafa? I don’t think so.

Sure, they could, but I would not bet on it. More often than not, Federer and Nadal would smoke Bryan and Bryan.

Unless, of course, Federer and Nadal’s chemistry is so bad that they try to kill each other. Then, but only then, would the betting lines shift.

By bsd987

I have written for SportsColumn.com since 2004 and was named a featured writer in 2006. I have been Co-Editor of the site since January 1, 2009. I also write for BleacherReport.com where I am a founding member of the Tennis Roundtable and one of the chief contributors to both the Tennis and Horse Racing sections.

I am "Stat Boy" for Sportscolumn.com's weekly podcast, Poor Man's PTI.

I am currently a Junior at Rice University majoring in History and Medieval Studies. My senior thesis will focus on the desegregation of football in Texas and its affect of racial relations.

Please direct all inquiries to [email protected]

Thanks,
Burton DeWitt
Co-Editor of Sportscolumn.com

4 replies on “NBC sets new low at Wimbledon”

It’s interesting to read this. The coverage of the men’s doubles final was rather lame, BUT I think that’s only a symptom of NBC/ESPN’s bigger problem – treating doubles as a second-class sport all along.

In particular, the networks absolutely refused to so much as acknowledge the very compelling story of Mardy Fish and James Blake’s run to the semifinal (I actually ranted a bit about this in my blog last night).

I just can’t fathom the reasoning for not latching on to a plot line that a)features two Americans known almost exclusively for their singles play b)could help draw attention to doubles play in general and c)is at the very least a fun, unlikely success story.

If the commentators today seemed underprepared, it was not out of place with the big picture: a doubles final shown on TV with no context, no back stories, no encouragement to pay attention.

I hear ya – Johnny Mac is often off track and manages to talk about himself more than anything else. When he does manage to talk about the match, he is often disrespectful of the players. It is painful and my least favorite viewing option.

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