Saturday, April 18, 2009

April 18, 2009/ Family Circle Cup Semis/ Dementieva v. Wozniacki

This match is being aired on ESPN2.

Commentators: Cliff Drysdale, Mary Joe Fernandez, and Pam Shriver.

Cliff Drysdale is at his usual cheerful best, and Mary Joe and Pam are kind of letting him set the tone and pull them in either direction. It works well and they are pretty good about mixing small talk and focus on the match. Many viewers of tennis seem to want to complain about broadcasters talking during points and talking about other things besides tennis, but to me, as long as the camera is rolling I'm really not too worried about the commentators. They provide available insight, facts and statistics and I want to hear what they have to say.

The Angles: Once the serve is put in play, only one camera angle is used until the point is over. This camera is directly behind the players, probably about 30' high. While this is a great vantage point, it'd certainly be better if they mixed in a ground level camera at times. A question for you all: Shouldn't networks experiment with different angles?

The fact that ESPN always goes to this angle once the serve is hit gets a little redundant in my opinion. Why not mix in a ground-level cam, located either on the side of the baseline, or directly behind?

Replays: Camera angles are from many angles and give very interesting insight into the physicality of the ladies. The ground level cameras used for some replays give viewers a very realistic idea of spin and pace - it feels like you are out there. The fact that the cameras for the replays are at so many different angles leads me to again wish that they used more variety during live play. Why not?

Plus: Sensing the drama, the Camera's follow the athletes out of their chairs and onto the court before the climactic game of the match (very nicely done, espn).

Minus: Baseball scores are flashing on the bottom of the screen...isn't it about time that this bar becomes optional? Sure, I'm a huge baseball fan, but sometimes I want the whole screen for my tennis - is that so wrong?

To HD or not to HD? The match is being shown in 720 p HD, and for some reason the screen is cropped by about 4" on either side of my screen. Strange computer graphics which say ESPN2HD are scrolled across each side of the space, vertically. When will the day come that all broadcasts are 16x9?

Progressive Shot of the day (a nice feature of the telecast, though I wish they had a progressive shot for every set because I love these slo-mo stroke analysis type of spots): Wozniacki makes a brilliant scoop volley on the backhand in the first set. It looks great in slo-mo, her racquet hardly moves.

My Commentary: The hard green clay of the Southeastern U.S. is faster than the european red clay. This match looks very similar to a hard-court match, and both players are hitting with a lot of zing.

Wozniacki, the up-and-coming 18-yr-old is serving to stay in the match, 4-5, @ 15-15. If she can manage the win it would be her 2nd consecutive clay court final appearance in 2 weeks.

Meanwhile, Dementieva is screaming like a wild animal as she wallops the ball from the baseline. The commentators are pretty much silent for a spell and you can hear it as if you are there.

"Game, Wozniacki" over the P.A. is followed by hoots and whistles from the very enthusiastic crowd. 5-5 in the 3rd set. This is where you put your money where your mouth is, and both girls know it.

As play continues, it looks like Dementieva is having some nerve issues with her serve. The commentators are praising Wozniacki for being on the brink of winning this match even after blowing big opportunities to win it in straight sets.

The kid from Denmark breaks and will get a chance to serve it out.

Meanwhile another Progressive add comes on...

Early in the final game, Wozniacki sails a forehand 5' long and the camera searches her face for signs of fear, but there doesn't seem to be any. She has a face that is more childish than womanish. But she has the groundies of a woman, that's for sure. It is very impressive to see her battling in these tense matches with so much on the line.

A service winner gets Woz her 4th match point of the match, her 1st of the 3rd set - Can she nail it down?

Not yet - the best point of the match and Dementieva gets to deuce by letting it all hang out. Drysdale, as always, is resonating with the match and his enthusiasm adds to the excitement of the drama on TV. He seems jazzed that the match has turned out to be so competitive.

Mary Joe: "So close but still yet so far, for Wozniacki."

Drysdale: "She is a determined this 3rd set she has not gone away...not for a moment.

A Wozniacki winner seals the match. "That's it!!!" shouts an adrenalized Drysdale - he is careful to give the hard-fought victory by Wozniacki it's due. The crowd is really letting her hear their appreciation.

Final: Wozniacki d. Dementieva 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.