Monday, June 10, 2013

10 S N E 1

Early in his Broadway stage career Humphrey Bogart was cast in drawing room comedies, usually as second juvenile. In one of these he spoke the immortal line “Tennis, anyone?”  Generations of bon vivants and lesser souls have echoed that line on and off the court ever since. One blonde in Connecticut had “10 S N E 1” as her license plate. 

Which brings us round to the French Open in Paris, one of the truly great settings for this much admired sport. 2013 play on that infamous red clay was extraordinary by anyone's standards. Yet a very real danger hangs over the head of this masterpiece. It has nothing to do with the red clay and the generally unfavorable weather sans roof. Certainly no blame can be laid on the shoulders of the players. It has everything to do with the chattering American television commentators. And part of this has to do with our national tendency to talk a lot more and listen a lot less. European broadcasters tend to let play speak for itself, not so for those of us on this side of the pond. 

This time out John McEnroe, Mary Carillo and Ted Robinson were at it again.  McEnroe truly knows the game and the nuances of same.  Yes, he would be better off by putting the lid on his “bad boy” days. Realistically the best we can hope for is that he minimizes recalling his own mischievous antics. Mary Carillo becomes less likeable with every outing. She is constitutionally incapable of shutting up. Ted Robinson, playing the role of Ed McMahon to McEnroe as Johnny Carson, spends most of his time feeding John opportunities to talk about what he did in the long ago. This year Ted got so gushy it was a better deal to turn down the sound. 

And it was certainly a better deal to turn the sound OFF when Maria Saharipova and Victoira Azarenka shrieked with every shot. They set a decibel high that will remain unmatched for the ages. They are both gifted athletes and selective commentary would help television viewers enjoy their play. But who can handle the headaches? 

The next French Open will probably be 10 S N E minus this 1.