The ATP tour finals were held last week in the O2 in London. Always interesting and of a high standard, the top eight players of the year play in a round robin format before heading into the semi-finals and finals.
What is even more exciting about this tournament is that some of it is shown on BBC as well as sky sports. Sue Barker presenting anything is simply fantastic to watch, she manages the grace and composure which numerous sports presenters lack. However, unfortunately for BBC, and the rest of the tennis fans who want to watch this excellent event in our home country, the budget wasn't big enough to win the broadcasting rights for all of the matches. Therefore in the evenings tennis fans across the country were forced to switch over to see the sky team do their best to cover the top eight in the men's game battling it out.
Last week this involved a rather uninspiring albeit improved presenter who I think goes by the name of Marcus. He was joined by Greg Rusedski and Boris Becker in the studio for the pre match hype and Annabelle Croft for the on court hustle and bustle- a good place for the glamourous ex player. All this was fair and good, Greg makes interesting points and although they usually relate to himself his good looks and charm means that he can pull it off (OK- I may be a little bit biast) and Boris' charisma, knowledge and fantastic accent always entertain and inform. 1
The most ridiculous part of their coverage was however Mark Petchey and Barry Cowan attempting to explain the game using “THE SKY PAD”. Now, whenever this is said, I believe it should be said in the infamous x factor voice. It is built up to be one of the most fantastic bits of technology ever to exist in the history of the world. No. It is pointless and rubbish, an old bit of technology put on large ipad type screen. Essentially it allows a pundit to draw lines and arrows, we mustn't forget the arrows, on the screen enabling clear verification of the points which they are making.
“This has been around for a while though?” I hear you say, and yes, you would be correct. Pretty much all the sports channels have been able to draw lines and arrows onto a screen enabling the viewer to see the points which they are making ever so clearly. It is particularly used in rugby and football to show the players positioning and tactics.
For the sky sports tennis team though, this SKY PAD is the best thing since sliced bread, and they continually overuse this rather outdated yet fancy looking pad before, during and after every match. One of the major problems is that whenever we see the duo, Mark Petchey or Barry Cowan drawing lines on the ever so fancy IPAD we often are unable to see what exactly they are drawing as the view is showing the said commentator drawing on the screen and not simply the screen itself. BONKERS.
If this isn't the only fault with this ridiculous sky pad, then the two ex British players who have been delegated this formidable task often also make extremely irrelevant points, as if they are being held at gunpoint to find something that they can say and exemplify using the "latest technology". Therefore, they find one or two points which exemplify a random form of good or bad tactics used. Then they claim that these were the reason that said player won or lost the set.
One time they showed Rafa coming forward against Tsonga and dictating the point. This was one of the few times he managed to do this in the set- yet they made out that by using this tactic so often was how Nadal had managed to win the second set (It was more due to Tsonga not making the most of his opportunities and faulting on his serve at 4-4).
Then they continued to recommend that Rafa should use this ingenious (ahem) idea of coming forward and dictating the points if he were to win the match- fantastic advice there, although I do believe it is more suited to a 11 year old player at your local club rather than the number two in the world!
As far as I am concerned this sky pad should be left at the door along with Barry Cowan and Mark Petchey's smug looks. Sky should focus their attention and money to trying to tempt a certain John McEnroe to join their recently revamped team in the same way that they managed to recruit Boris.
1 Replace Andrew Castle and Tim Henman with these two on the BBC and we may have some good tennis coverage