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Daily Bagel: Has the Golden Age of tennis increased TV ratings?

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The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.

• Video: ATP Uncovered profiles Rafael Nadal and his triumphant 2013 season.

• Steve Tignor sits down with an ESPN executive to talk about the network’s coverage. Here’s an enlightening comment on who drives ratings in the U.S.:

Andre Agassi was as big a ratings star as any player today. The proven ratings winners for us now are the Williams sisters and Roger [Federer], and now Rafa has shown that he can bring people in. But we haven’t seen that with matches between Novak [Djokovic] and Andy [Murray] yet. Tennis can still be a challenge without a name-brand star.

• Beautifully written longform recap of the U.S. Open by Elizabeth Kaye for SB Nation. My only quibble: In setting up the Djokovic-Nadal rivalry, it’s a bit harsh on Novak.

• Peter Bodo responds to a broad-shot gossip item in The New York Post that implies there is doping in the upper echelons of the game.

The other troubling reason is more complicated and, in some ways, bitterly ironic. It’s the level to which the players have taken the game recently, demonstrated best in the recent Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal matches. The stamina, power, and skill of these men is nothing less than astonishing — so much so that it seems to brings out the skeptic or outright doper-hunter in many people. It’s a pity, punishing them for their greatness. I’m going to need tangible proof and not just hearsay or speculation about how someone looks to come off that position.

• Kamakshi Tandon of ESPN.com on how Stanislas Wawrinka learned to win. It all started with that loss to Djokovic at the Australian Open, after which he go the following tattoo on his arm: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better.”

By spring, the words were inscribed on his skin, though for him their meaning clearly ran deeper. It was the message he had given himself and had been given by his Davis Cup teammates and friends ever since that match against Djokovic.

“A few tough losses at the beginning of the year, but we always said, ‘Look, the most important is what you do with that situation,’” said Swiss captain Severin Luthi, who has provided coaching support to Wawrinka. “If you react negative and you go into a mental hole, you won’t progress. You have to accept the positive and negative out of it and try to improve; that’s all you can do.

“And he was very disciplined in that direction.”

• Does No-Ad scoring really save that much time? Jeff Sackman of Heavy Topspin crunches some numbers.

• According to this Russian report, Igor Andreev is retiring at the end of the season.

• Non-tennis: From The Splitsider: The 20 best characters from Conan O’Brien’s late-night shows.

  • Published On Sep 18, 2013
  • 12 comments
    Ace2020
    Ace2020

    I tried signing up to that site to point out how terrible and biased the article is for Rafa and against Novak, but I am having trouble. Shame, because it is a terrible article that only the most biased Nadal fans (who also hate Novak for 7 in a row) would actually enjoy. 

    usable.thought
    usable.thought

    Wholly apart from whether she is fair or unfair to Djokovic, I don't I'd ever call Elizabeth Kaye's piece for SB Nation "beautifully written." It is long, yes, and it is mostly a fiction written out of her own head, but beautiful? No. Beauty is something few sportswriters can aspire to, especially in an age of blogging. Hannah Wilks sometimes manages it, but only in her very best pieces. George Vecsey over at the NYT is mostly retired now, and I don't know that I'd call his pieces beautiful; moreover I don't remember him covering tennis; but he at least writes with a humility and honesty and directness that very few writers can achieve in any sport. In any case let's leave Kaye out of the picture. She hacked out a very long piece that is not very interesting and not very accurate. 

    unifiedairway
    unifiedairway

    Seriously?  Who is this writer and what has Djokovic done to deserve this? 

    Ace2020
    Ace2020

    I forgot to add how ridiculous it is that she claims Novak always resented Nadal's success, when they were good friends. They only stopped being friends when Nole repeatedly beat Rafa. Novak is much more gracious in defeat. As for celebrations, it's not like Nadal doesn't do it. Ridiculous article, I say again.

    Ace2020
    Ace2020

    She is another Nadal fangirl who will forever hate Novak for 2011. People that unobjective shouldn't be allowed to write. Also, Davydenko has a leading head to head against Nadal. Does she even watch tennis? It makes me uncomfortable when you read articles by people who are clearly a fan of one certain player and who clearly dislike another. I can't remember the name of the guy who clearly hates Nadal with a passion, but that is ridiculous too. 

    CdotPdotM
    CdotPdotM

    A <i>bit</i> harsh on Novak?  I'm not the guy's biggest fan, but that piece is just dripping with contempt for the guy.  Like, it's a little uncomfortable.  Is that true/accurate about what she says he shouted at Madrid?  Not that it'd change my opinion one way or the other, but ... yowza.

    Ace2020
    Ace2020

    @usable.thought It is hilariously biased towards Rafa. The line "gone on to attain an unheard of level that was insurmountable" is hysterical. Nadal played a decent match, but Novak should have won that 3rd set and played terribly in the 1st and 4th sets. To act as if Nadal was playing tennis we have never seen before just makes it more clear she is a Rafa fangirl with no knowledge of tennis at all. 

    usable.thought
    usable.thought

    Here is an example from Kaye's piece of the sort of fervid projection that I particularly dislike: "Watching [Federer], you had to wonder if he sometimes wished he'd retired after winning his 17th major at Wimbledon in 2012 . . . There is a certain nobility in going out on such a high, but Federer had squandered that option and, judging from the stricken expression on his face, he must have known it." This is just sloppy writing.

    usable.thought
    usable.thought

    I see looking through various archives that Vecsey did cover tennis on occasion, e.g. a nice piece on Pam Shriver laughing about being relegated to a back dressing room at Wimbledon in 1991. But the best pieces he's written that I can recall were about baseball. And what made him special for me was his willingness to admit the role of the press in shaping the events it covers. A mensch.

    Deborah2
    Deborah2

    @CdotPdotM Yes, it's true, and it's not the first time he's yelled such things to crowds in his native language. But that is indeed a rather biased article. I say that as the biggest Nadal fan. It's a great read however. 

    Ace2020
    Ace2020

    @Deborah2 @Ace2020 Yeah, that's the guy. I am not particular a Nadal fan but he despises him and his lack of objectivity is as embarassing as the bias towards him and against Novak in this article.