→ This bolsters the notion that ratings can be misleading. We work on the assumption that the job of the publicist is to present the rosiest picture imaginable, cherry-picking some data points and ignoring others. But these numbers had me scratching my head. Let's be clear: 17.7 million viewers didn't watch the match, per se. They tuned in at some point. Given that you had a women's match that followed the popular NFL, preceded the popular
More sobering -- if more honest -- framing: The women's final averaged a 3.9 rating, and the men's averaged a 2.3 rating, the second lowest ever. I don't discount the Serena effect and don't want to diminish her effect on the ratings. But as Chris notes, you can't really compare a Sunday sporting event with a sporting event that begins on Monday afternoon -- and isn't even carried by all the network's affiliates. (Bottom line: These Monday finals are toxic.)
? Funny, the résumé he dropped with me made no such mention. And I when I looked it up on Google -- the inevitable next step after receiving a résumé -- I saw that he beat the seven players placed before him. Which is all we ask.
I don't disagree that players have had tougher draws. But A) I don't go for this asterisk business much. B) In his fifth Grand Slam final -- a month removed from defeating Federer on Centre Court -- Murray toppled the defending champ in five sets. That ought to douse any discussion that this was somehow less than legit.
? Thanks. We could quibble with some of this. (If Evert and Navratilova were contemporaries, wouldn't we expect their numbers to be lower? And Serena played much fewer events on average each year, so wouldn't we expect her winning percentage to be higher?) But the more data, the better ...
? I think it's semantics. For the dubious honor of best active players never to have won a major, isn't there an assumption that it's still possible? In the case of Nalbandian, his best days are -- by, like, a decade -- behind him. This is the same reason I put Tsonga (one major final) above Soderling (two major finals). Judges?
? See above.
? Given the "One Slam and a bit more" precedent, how could you deny Murray? One Slam title and four other finals. Semis or better at all four. Olympic gold. A bunch of Masters titles. Good record against the other Big Four members. It sounds silly: By winning the U.S. Open he guaranteed himself Hall of Fame enshrinement. But, again, given the current requirements, how could he be denied?
? Too many lopsided sets. Too many errors. Too many lapses. Insufficient fifth-set drama. Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed the match immensely. But even for the "Men's Grand Slam Final of the Year" award, I pick Australia over the U.S. Open.
? Mauricio of Sao Paulo, Brazil, wrote: "So it seems we are officially back to the '80s in men's tennis. We have a 30-plus-year-old still winning Slams and reclaiming No. 1 (Federer/Connors), we have the clay king facing a possible early retirement (Nadal/Borg), a unique character putting on one of the best seasons of all time (Djokovic 2011/McEnroe 1984), and now we have the stoic, less celebrated player among the Big Four breaking through at a Grand Slam after losing his first four major finals (Murray/Lendl). Interesting how history has a way of repeating itself."
Another good one came from Andy J. of Thessaloniki, Greece: "Lendl not only lost his first four major finals but he also, like Murray, had to beat a five-time Slam champion (McEnroe) to win his first final."
And let's pause to discuss how cool this is: We had bits of tennis trivia come in on the same night from Oslo, Sao Paulo and Salonika. How many other sports can say that?
→ Venus Williams leads the D.C. Kastles to World TeamTennis glory.
→ The controversy with Indian Tennis continues to build.
? Not to be outdone, we have Davis Cup drama in Argentina.
? Ivan H. of New York: "Here's a link to a fun little photo project I put together recently. It's called tennis hands."
→ This week's sports book recommendation:
? Tim, Hopkinton, Massachusetts: "I found myself in Toronto on a business trip this week and, since it's film festival week, went to see the premiere of the Venus and Serena documentary. It was excellent. The filmmakers had virtually unlimited access and we got an amazing behind-the-scenes look at their lives and their tumultuous 2011 season. I only wish that Venus and Serena had attended. During the Q&A session, the filmmakers said that they were 'still reacting' to it, implying that they weren't happy with the final cut. Had they been there, however, they would have been able to experience the audience's reaction. You could literally feel the sense of admiration of their struggle and accomplishments coming from everyone in the room.
"And it would have been great from them to have heard Wyclef's (he did the soundtrack) response when asked what he felt about the story. 'It's a story of TRIUMPH, man (mon?),' he said. And that 'everyone should leave here feeling like they have a battery pack on their backs ... full of energy and feeling like they can do anything.' Wyclef got a rousing ovation for his comments. I can only imagine how we would have reacted to seeing Venus and Serena on stage immediately after the film, but I do know that they would have been overwhelmed to see and feel the audience's reaction. Just a wonderful film, and a must-see for any tennis fan. Triumph, mon."
→ Venus and Serena withdrew their support for this movie.
? The USTA announced that U.S. Open attendance topped 700,000 for the fifth time, finishing at 710,803.
? Israeli tennis aficionado and occasional Dirk Nowtizki hitting partner Marc Stein (known in his more solemn moments as Frank M. Stein) points out: "Israeli No. 2 Amir Weintraub led his country into Davis Cup World Group with a pair of wins over Japan's Tatsuma Ito (67) and Go Soeda (53). All five of his career tour-level wins have come in Davis Cup. Others: Milos Raonic (31), Federico Gil (84), Jerzy Janowicz (156)."
→ Remember our note about Kim Clijsters warming up Kirsten Flipkens at the U.S. Open→ Seems it paid off.
→ Good Q&A with Novak Djokovic.
→ Here's some perspective on Andy Murray from India.
? Troy of Fort Wayne, Ind: "One thing I noticed that has not been mentioned yet is another 'milestone' for Serena Williams: She surpassed the $40 million mark in career prize earnings. Given her 45 career titles, that averages out to a whopping $888,888.89 (rounded up on the pennies) per title lifetime average. Pretty amazing numbers."
→ Nick DeToustain writes: "Love how you went all Serpico on P-Mac calling matches at the Open. And re: long-lost siblings, how about Jana Novotna and Novak Djokovic's mom, Dijana→"
Have a good week, everyone!