Keeping Tabs: 4/2

Tuesday, April 02, 2013 /by

Andy Murray had quite a weekend. He won a big title in Miami and made himself, at least according to the ATP’s computer, the second-best tennis player in the world. You might think the press would shower him with praise, right? Not necessarily...

There’s some good news and there’s some bad news, on both sides of the Atlantic, when it comes to the latest Muzz coverage. In the States, Murray made it onto the radar of gossip site TMZ. But it wasn’t for his play on a Key Biscayne tennis court; it was for his dip in the ocean off a Key Biscayne beach. This was TMZ’s assessment of tennis's resident Scottish "hunk":

PALES IN COMPARISON

After a long, grueling match, tennis star Andy Murray celebrated winning the Sony Open by soaking his ripped abs—and farmer’s tan—in the warm waters in Miami on Sunday

The pasty Scottish hunk may be #2 in the world...but he’s still got a ways to go before he’s golden.

In London, Murray’s win coincided with his appearance on the cover of the London Times magazine. Good news, right? Yes, except that the city’s other papers, in the parts of the interview that they chose to quote, managed to make him sound something just short of a crazy man.

HOW I STOPPED MY CAREER GOING DOWN THE TOILET

That’s how the Sun describes Murray’s revelation that he talked, out loud, to himself in the bathroom after the fourth set of last year’s U.S. Open final.

“I was thinking, ‘Why do I keep losing these finals?’” Murray said. “Do I lack something?"

"I would never talk to myself, not out loud. You would never catch me walking around the house and actually saying things to myself,” Muzz reassures us. “Isn’t that supposed to be the first sign of madness?”

Yet Murray admits that he did begin to exhort himself out loud at the Open:

“You are NOT going to let this slip!" Murray told Murray. "This is your time!”

To Murray’s surprise, the self-tongue lashing worked. “At first it felt weird, but I felt something change. I knew I could win.”

I guess it was a better idea than what he had been doing for the previous two sets: Screaming at his legs and calling them “Jelly!” 

Bad tan and potential madness aside, this is a big moment for Murray. He has finally joined Novak Djokovic at the top of the rankings and made it official that, at least for now, those two are the men to beat. And he says he’s ready to make more of a push on clay than he has in the past. Coach Ivan Lendl will be heading with him to Monte Carlo this year.

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Passing Judgement

Doug Robson of USA Today gives us the latest in tennis doping news. WADA head David Howman backs the ITF’s plan to introduce a biological passport system. Rather than focusing on tests for specific substances, authorities would create blood profiles for players and monitor those players over time to see if their blood falls out of its “normal range.” 

Many observers believe that this system has been successful in reducing doping in cycling, which introduced it in 2007. But recently Don Catlin, an expert on the subject from UCLA, said that the idea was misguided for tennis, that it was too costly and complicated, and the sport was better served sticking with its regimen of drug tests alone.

We’ll see what happens, and if there are more players caught with the passport. For now, I think it's worth noting that, compared to the last few years, it’s has been a good season for tennis and drug testing. It took Lance Armstrong’s confession to make it happen, but even if the passport doesn’t end up representing progress, it does represent an effort by players and officials to take the problem more seriously.

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Breaking Away from the Breaker

If you were watching the Miami men’s final in the U.S., you know that CBS broke away from the match at the start of the decisive third-set tiebreaker so it could show NCAA basketball. The network told Tennis.com that it had stayed with the match as long as possible, but that it needed five minutes to set before the basketball game began. The upshot is that next year the men’s finalists will have to get out there even earlier, at 11:00 A.M.

I would have been pretty annoyed if I hadn’t had the Tennis Channel, which picked up the last eight points of the match. Maybe CBS could have shown the end of the tennis on a split screen with the start of basketball—the hoops game, between Michigan and Florida, was a blowout from start to finish. But as it was I can’t say I was outraged by the decision. What CBS really needs to show isn’t basketball itself, but the commercials that have been sold for that broadcast. The NCAA tournament is the most lucrative sporting event, ad-wise, in this country. In total dollars, it outpaces even the Super Bowl, and each 30-second spot costs $1.4 million. In this case, a little bit of time—the tiebreaker was over in a hurry— could have cost a lot of money.

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