Friday, June 05, 2009

RG.13- "The NBC Zone" Swallows Up Day 13 at Roland Garros (hmmm, 13... maybe that should have been a clue)

Man, I hope Barack Obama wins the Presidential election. Of course, if he does, I know I won't hear about it until I see the tape-delayed video of the inauguration ceremony on my TV screen.

Oh, sorry about that, everyone. I think you just witnessed a case of WTA Backspin slipping into the "NBC Zone." You know, the alternate reality where nothing has actually happened until NBC shows you the video of it, if you're lucky. I can't wait until the network's nightly news show tells everyone that a meteor has struck the Earth and everything and everyone on it has perished... including me, you and everyone working at NBC.

Of course, that makes absolutely no sense. But I'm sure NBC will find a way to do it anyway. After today, I believe that network can do ANYTHING and the powers-that-be will think they can get away with it.

I thought I'd seen everything when it comes to tennis coverage in the United States. Until today, that is. Tennis on television, let me introduce to an entirely new brand of insanity.

One would think that a television network that has a partnership with Microsoft (MSNBC) wouldn't continue to attempt to exist as if in a world without the internet, not to mention a universe without sports radio and ESPN, where people can be updated on sports news twenty-four hours a day.

But here NBC was today, naturally coming on air at 10am, two hours after the start of the Soderling/Gonzalez SF match and acting as if nothing was as it appeared in reality. A sane network production would join the end of the first men's semi live (the only part most viewers cared to see to begin with), show the full Federer/del Potro match as it happened and perhaps conclude the day's coverage with a replay of Kuznetsova/Williams (or even more of the first men's semi). But, of course, NBC instead aired the Soderling/Gonzalez match from the start, jumping ahead in the action (as you know, everyone wants to see the first game, but not full sets later in the match) as things moved along.

As that match was televised to the East Coast on delay, viewers missed out on seeing Soderling's 5th set comeback from 3-0 and 4-1 deficits live. Meanwhile, Federer/del Potro was taking place in the real world. By the time the long-ago-finished first men's semi was completed on NBC, Federer and del Potro were involved in what would become a five-set struggle in which the player who wishes to claim the honor "Greatest of All Time" come Sunday afternoon had to fight for his Roland Garros life for the third time in six matches at this tournament.

What did NBC do? Ummm, go off air at 1pm with the match hanging in the balance. Without even mentioning the match existed. Without either of the other TWO networks that have been covering this slam having any scheduled live broadcast time in which to pick up coverage. One might think that the ONE network allowed to broadcast the men's semifinals live would, for one, broadcast the men's semifinals live, and two, broadcast the men's SEMIFINALS, plural not singular. Ah, but not in the NBC Zone.

Thus, after live Roland Garros coverage since Day 1, a grand slam semifinal match featuring Roger Federer did air live in the U.S. despite three networks having crews in Paris. That bears repeating. After live Roland Garros coverage since Day 1, a grand slam semifinal match featuring Roger Federer did air live in the U.S. despite three networks having crews in Paris.

Hmmm, maybe if Jay Leno was hosting things would have been different? Just a wonder.

The truth is, NBC only had three hours of coverage allotted on Friday, hardly enough to air two men's SF matches... so why prevent the other two networks from airing live tennis? Apparently, in the NBC Zone that other semifinal didn't actually take place, because it warrented running over and pushing back/delaying Bo Brady's latest tussle with Stefano DiMera, right? If airing "Days of Our Lives," which NBC is THIS CLOSE to cancelling anyway, is more important then -- newsflash -- the network shouldn't be airing the men's SF at all. It isn't as if the network HAS to. It didn't air the women's semifinals on Thursday. THANK GOD!! There's really no need for NBC to show up in Paris for the French Open, always the red-headed bastard child American tennis slam coverage anyway, until the finals. Everyone would be better served.

One would think that the airing of a live sports event(s), with the action taking place during the coverage window of the network responsible for showing the event, couldn't be screwed up, right? I mean, you just point the camera, hit a button and go.

Yeah, right. If you think common sense is actually common, then you don't know NBC Sports.

(Somewhere, an ESPN tennis producer is sporting a self-satisfied smile and thinking, "My God, even WE'RE more on the ball than they are.")

...for the record, Federer finally defeated del Potro 3-6/7-6/2-6/6-1/6-4.

...the French have a chance to sweep the junior singles competition. Pastry Kristina Mladenovic defeated Sloane Stephens in the Girls SF today, and will face Hordette Daria Gavrilova, who upset Oz junior champ Ksenia Pervak. Of course, anytime an unseeded player reaches a slam Girls final I feel obligated to grant her the "Junior Breakout" award. Thus, it goes to Gavrilova (sorry, Sloane).

In the Boys final, it'll be France's Gianni Mina against Sweden's Daniel Berta.

...Virginia Ruano-Pascual & Anabel Medina-Garrigues defended their Women's Doubles title, defeating Victoria Azarenka & Elena Vesnina 6-1/6-1. It's VRP's eleventh slam title, including six Roland Garros Doubles and one Mixed crown. She gets the "Doubles Star" honors for the tournament.

...and finally, the RG version of "Decade's Best, 2000-09" will also be posted on Saturday.

AO: Madison Brengle, USA
RG: Mariana Duque-Marino, COL
WI: Urszula Radwanska, POL
US: Kristina Kucova, SVK
AO: Jessica Moore, AUS & Arantxa Rus, NED
RG: Simona Halep, ROU & Elena Bogdan, ROU
WI: Laura Robson, GBR
US: Gabriela Paz, VEN
AO: Ksenia Pervak, RUS
RG: Daria Gavrilova, RUS

AO: Yan/Zheng, CHN
RG: Raymond/Stosur, USA/AUS
WI: Yah/Zheng, CHN
US: Martina Navratilova, USA
AO: Liezel Huber, RSA
RG: Katarina Srebotnik, SLO
WI: Cara Black, ZIM
US: Nathalie Dechy, FRA
AO: Bondarenko/Bondarenko, UKR
RG: Medina-Garrigues/Ruano-Pascual, ESP
WI: Samantha Stosur, AUS
US: Cara Black, ZIM
AO: Sania Mirza, IND
RG: Virginia Ruano-Pascual, ESP

#1 Dinara Safina/RUS vs. #7 Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS

#23 Robin Soderling/SWE vs. #2 Roger Federer/SUI

#3 Medina-Garrigues/Ruano-Pascual (ESP/ESP) def. #12 Azarenka/Vesnina (BLR/RUS) 6-1/6-1

#3 Dlouhy/Paes (CZE/IND) vs. Moodie/Norman (RSA/BEL)

#1 Huber/B.Bryan (USA/USA) def.
King/Melo (USA/BRA) 5-7/7-6 [10-7]

#9 Kristina Mladenovic/FRA vs. Daria Gavrilova/RUS

Daniel Berta/SWE vs. Henri Laaksonen/FIN vs.
#11 Gianni Mina/FRA

#3 Babos/Watson (HUN/GBR) vs. #2 E.Bogdan/Lertcheewakarn (ROU/THA)

#4 Clezar/Huang (BRA/TPE) vs. Draganja/Marcan (CRO/CRO)

TOP QUALIFIER: Yaroslava Shvedova/KAZ
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): Dinara Safina/RUS
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q2: Corinna Dentoni/ITA d. Sesil Karatantcheva/KAZ 4-6/6-3/6-2
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 1st Rd. - Vitalia Diatchenko/RUS d. Mathilde Johansson/FRA 1-6/6-2/10-8 (saved 7 MP)
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): SF - Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Serena Williams 7-6/5-7/7-5
FIRST SEED OUT: #19 Kaia Kanepi/EST (1st Rd.- Shvedova/KAZ)
UPSET QUEENS: The ex-Russian Kazakhs
LAST QUALIFIERS STANDING: Michelle Larcher de Brito/POR & Yaroslava Shvedova/KAZ (both to 3rd Rd.)
IT GIRL: Dominika Cibulkova/SVK
CRASH & BURN: Elena Dementieva/RUS - dominated by Dokic in 2nd, but advances with retirement, then taken out by Stosur in 3rd Rd.
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Victoria Azarenka/BLR - was down 7-5/4-1 vs. Suarez-Navarro in 3rd Rd., won and reached first slam QF
LAST PASTRIES STANDING: Aravane Rezai & Virginie Razzano (both to 4th Rd.)
DOUBLES STAR Virginia Ruano-Pascual/ESP

All for Day 13. More tomorrow.


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