Saturday, May 2, 2009

May 2, 2009/ Stuttgart Semi's/ Safina v. Pennetta

This match is being aired on The Tennis Channel.

Commentators: Corina Morariu, Paul Sunderland.

Corina and Paul give a pretty unbiased and detailed analysis of the players and the action on the court. Once you realize what kind of a career Corina had in professional tennis, and how much she has had to persevere through off the court (lukemia survivor), you realize just how valuable her insight is. Sunderland, meanwhile, is versatile, mellow, professional, and well versed in both the players and the sport.

Commentator Quotables:


Prior to set point for Pennetta: "In 5 previous matches Safina has only dropped one set to Pennetta." Nice timing by the savvy broadcaster who is based in L.A and has called L.A. Laker games in the past.

After a bad Safina stretch of points: "She (Safina) is playing a horrible match right now - half a dozen double faults, a multitude of unforced errors."

After Safina smashes her racquet @ 4-4, 2nd set: "Look at this...there we go...glad to see it...that was long overdue." Does he really think that's going to help her?


Regarding the fact that both commentators feel that Safina needs to let off some steam: "It's not a matter of losing your temper it's a matter of regaining your composure for the next point." So True!

While watching replay of a Pennetta passing attempt: "Pennetta could have driven a truck up the line on this pass (giggling)."

The Angles: As is the norm, after the serve is put in play, the action is followed from a camera that is behind the baseline at the center of the court. The viewing angle is sufficiently wide and the camera does not need to pan.

In the seventh game of the first set Tennis Channel went to a ground-level camera view of Pennetta returning Safina's serve (camera behind Pennetta). They only did it once and they need to do it more. It's very cutting-edge and kind of refreshes the viewers pallet, i.e. keeps it interesting for us.

* they just did it again in the 8th game, so maybe they're hearing my complaining (This technique is particularly compelling in Stuttgart because their is a larger-than-life video screen with images of the two players in the background, which makes the whole scene seem really futuristic and cool). * and again in the 8th game of the 2nd set. * and again in the eleventh game of the 2nd set (and this time they let this angle play for the whole point).

Replays: During replays a camera in the same position (elevated behind baseline at the T) uses the zoom to isolate each players strokes. As usual, I wish that the broadcast would experiment with this technique during live play, but they never do - not once.

Some extra slo-mo stuff when the Tennis Channel cuts back from commercial is really nice to watch.

A head-level cam does a great job giving the viewer a unique and informative view of each players service motion. This is the view that we all know as players so it is particularly informative with regard to pace and spin.

A ground-level cam captures the dazzling level of spin in a very cool way, during a replay in the fourth game of the first set. It is a beautiful angle to view from and in my opinion should be employed more often so the viewer can see how different shots move, i.e. slice, serves, topspin, flat - from that angle. They need to do this stuff more and more!

Graphics and stats: Not many statistical updates during the sets. First set statistics and analysis was nice, but they didn't leave it on the screen for very long.

Career 3rd set records shown immediately at the start of the 3rd set. Nice.

Pluses: Some great artistic shot of clay covered shoes. Great close-up shot of Safina's anxiety ridden face just prior to a huge break point opportunity. A willingness to at least try some experimental camera angles.

Minuses: As always, the reluctance to use more readily available alternative camera angles is baffling. The Tennis Channel has a modern and savvy viewership, they should give us more credit and challenge us more.

Final score: Safina d. Pennetta 3-6, 7-5, 6-0.