July 06, 2009
Pardon me while I dabble in blasphemy, but I didn't think the men's final at Wimbledon was very good. Oh, it was entertaining and better than most Grand Slam finals, but it wasn't nearly as great as the 16-14 fifth set score would suggest. Here are four reasons why:
1) The lack of break opportunities -- This was the stereotypically boring men's Wimbledon match: Big serves, short rallys and few breaks. Players holding serve doesn't necessarily make for an uninteresting match (the classic Federer-Nadal final last year only had two more breaks than Federer and Roddick did yesterday), but the lack of break opportunities does. There were only 12 break points the entire match. And most of the service games were won with ease. Very few games even went to deuce.
2) Roddick's unforced errors -- In a 77-game match, 33 unforced errors isn't a lot. Heck, it's five fewer than Roger Federer had. But the timing of Roddick's errors made it feel like they were more frequent than they actually were. In the final two games of the match, Roddick had three truly unforced errors, as balls inexplicably hit off the end of his racket (this happened on match point). And the most memorable moment of the match came when Roddick overhit an easy high backhand volley while up 6-5 in the second set tiebreak.
3) Dispassionate fans -- British tennis fans will never be mistaken with those at the U.S. Open, but that was an unsually staid crowd yesterday, even by Wimbledon standards. Perhaps fans were still deflated by Andy Murray's semifinals loss.
4) NBC's Ted Robinson -- Like most NBC play-by-play announcers (Dan Hicks, Tom Hammonds), Ted Robinson is fine, if unremarkable, at his job. During the longest Grand Slam final in history, Robinson had little urgency in his voice and no sense of the moment. As a result, the match didn't feel as important as it should have.