While looking around for a few good metrosexuals, I explain why I don’t think Serena and Roger will win the French Open
Serena Mucks Around in the Clay
When Serena Williams and Tsvetana Pironkova left the court in the pouring rain today at the French Open, Pironkova was ready to serve for the first set. Serena had stumbled around the court and gone down 5-2 before fighting back to 5-5 only to lose her serve one more time.
Six and a half hours later, Pironkova served out the first set and broke Serena to start the second set. Finally, Serena calmed down and warmed up then took the next nine games losing only one more game in the 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory. Despite a groin injury and a wet, heavy court, she’d kept her unbeaten streak in first round matches at grand slams.
I’m now going to take my life in my hands and predict that Serena will not win the title here. It’s a foolhardy prediction because Serena could meet Justine Henin in the quarterfinals and that would be their first meeting at the French Open since Justine made Serena mighty angry.
It was the semifinals in 2003 and Serena was serving when Justine held up her hand as if to call time out. Serena continued her serve – a double fault – and Justine proceeded to deny that she had raised her hand. That should provide more than enough motivation to unleash Serena’s unparalleled fierceness on the tennis court.
Serena probably doesn’t need such motivation, this is a slam after all, but she’s still rehabbing from a groin injury and clay is her worst surface. Paris is damp and wet and that makes for a heavy ball. I could be wrong, Serena beat Justine in the Miami final this year, but this is clay and Justine is the steeliest competitor our there next to Serena and she’s injury free at the moment and that could be the difference.
A Few Good Metrosexuals
I watched Serena at an altitude of 37,000 feet on a Jet Blue airplane courtesy of ESPN2. I was lucky because ESPN sold most of its French Open coverage to The Tennis Channel since it was tired of losing money. ESPN2 reaches about 75 million households in the U.S. while The Tennis Channel reaches about ten million households. That means most of the French Open will now reach 65 million fewer households. On a similar note, CBS recently renewed its contract for the U.S. Open but reduced the contract from $30 million to $24 million per year.
These are both signs that tennis is sinking in the U.S. and I have a suggestion: hire Victoria Beckham (the former Posh Spice) to market ATP and WTA stars in the U.S. David Beckham is the epitome of the global marketing brand and credit for that goes largely to his wife Victoria.
Victoria has Beckham planted in window displays and fashion magazines everywhere. His upswerved hairdo and one day beard have become the reigning style for fashionable young males. He’s also comfortable being a gay icon – in other words, he’s one of our leading metrosexuals. This softer image also appeals to women.
Hire Victoria and put her to work creating crossover stars out of Roger Federer and Anna Chakvetadze and raising the Q ratings of upcoming U.S. players such as Sam Querrey.
One thing Victoria can do is study NASCAR’s marketing model: every week NASCAR makes its drivers available to sports radio shows. I’ve never, ever heard Federer or Maria Sharapova or Andy Roddick interviewed on the radio and I’m warped – I listen to sports radio all day long.
You got a better idea? If so, bring it on.
Federer’s 96mph Forehand
Since there was so much rain in Paris today, ESPN2 showed the third and fourth set of last year’s Federer-Nadal final. At one point Federer hit a 96mph forehand. Wow, that is scorching. Federer was all aggression.
But Nadal was all consistency. He had only two unforced errors in the second set and four unforced errors in the third. And that is the problem with a five set final. Federer has to be very aggressive to beat Nadal and that’s hard to do without making a lot of errors.
If Federer and Nadal both play the matches of their lives, it will come down to one or two points in a tiebreaker. The last time that happened, they played a five hour final in Rome and Nadal toughed out the tiebreaker to win it.
If Federer can take the first two sets he has a chance. If not, Nadal’s consistency and mental toughness will defeat Federer’s aggressiveness.
Opportunity Missed (last year’s French Open final)
Federer-Nadal VI (last year’s Rome final)