Whatever happened to all that? The WTA's recent history of one-sided women's finals has become a serious issue at all the majors, and Maria Sharapova's 6-3, 6-2 dismissal of Sara Errani was no exception.
Let's say your standard for a truly dramatic match is three sets, with a margin of two games or less in the third. The last time that happened in Paris was the Capriati-Clijsters match (and the last 11 finals there have been straight-setters).
The last time that happened at the Australian Open: 2003, Serena Williams over Venus Williams, 7-6, 3-6, 6-4.
At Wimbledon: 2006, Amelie Mauresmo over Justine Henin, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
At the U.S. Open: 1994, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario over Steffi Graf, 1-6, 7-6, 6-4. And get this: The last
Djokovic can take heart in the fact that he ran off eight straight games against Nadal at one stage of that final. "We're witnessing something we'll never see again," marveled John McEnroe on NBC. But that serving malaise was pretty unusual, as well. You wonder how long such things linger in a player's mind.
Like many others on the scene, Gilbert could find no reason why Roland Garros won't employ Hawk-Eye technology. The television networks had access to it, but that didn't help Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova or other players who were certain that umpires picked the wrong mark.
"Why isn't it here? We're using it on TV," said Mary Carillo on one broadcast. At the mention of the tournament's excuse -- the "margin of error" is just too great on clay -- John McEnroe snapped, "That's a bunch of baloney. Complete and utter crap, as far as I'm concerned."
Added anchor Chris McKendry, sitting alongside Evert: "And she had an opponent who was cramping -- and yet didn't think to make her keep hitting more shots."
Lindsay Davenport, on Tennis Channel: "I've never seen her tighter, and I've never seen her choke more. It was complete nerves, for whatever reason. It was like she just completely froze. I don't think anyone's used to seeing Serena, of all players, freeze."
And speaking of three straight bad Grand Slam defeats, "It starts to add up," Davenport said. "I'm never surprised when it comes to Serena, but if I had to guess right now, I would say it would be a huge accomplishment to get over everything that happened."
? NBC had a wonderful tradition at Wimbledon, dating back to the glory days of Bud Collins' broadcasting career, but the network has surrendered the rights for the first time in decades. ESPN has exclusive rights and will show everything live, with Tennis Channel allowed only to package highlights.
? For the many fans who will miss Ted Robinson and McEnroe working big matches together, they'll pair up for NBC and call the gold-medal match at the Olympics.
? NBC made a crucial error at the conclusion of Sunday's coverage, failing to note that Monday's resumption of the match (7 a.m. Eastern time) would be carried on the NBC Sports Network, not the primary network. There are millions of fans who don't get NBC Sports Network, and undoubtedly millions of others (like myself) who mistakenly set their DVRs for NBC proper. Fortunately, I got up at 4 a.m. (in San Francisco) and was able to make the adjustment.
Carillo reasoned that if Razzano could be cited for a deliberate act, "then Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka should be in chains in a dungeon somewhere."
Carillo was openly repulsed by the WTA's shrieking-related press release from the Miami tournament, where tour officials claimed "it would not be fair to force the current generation of players to, in effect, learn how to play tennis again."
"Hogwash," said Navratilova. "Give them until next year. As of 2013, you start getting point penalties. Guess what? They'll change, just like that."
"Why can't they do it?" Carillo wondered in a segment with Rennae Stubbs. "Why do they keep talking about 'players of the future'?"
Stubbs: "Well, you're dealing with the number one and two players in the world."
Carillo, sarcastically: "Oh,
? Referring to the "anarchy" at the top of the women's rankings, Navratilova said, "You need a superstar to carry the sport. The men have it; they've had it for almost 10 years now. The women are lacking it. You can't build stardom based on one Grand Slam. You have to back it up."
? On choosing women for the two mixed doubles teams at the Olympics: "It has to be Lisa Raymond and Liezel Huber. They've put in the work, they're the No.-1 ranked (women's) team in the world, they've earned it. Lisa got taken over by the Williams sisters in Sydney when she was the No. 1 doubles player in the world, and now Serena hasn't played mixed since 1999. You can't just show up the year of the Olympics and say, 'OK, here I am.'"
? On the supremely determined Sharapova facing Kaia Kanepi in the quarterfinals: "She was clenching her fist before the match even started."
? After watching the gracious Bjorn Borg in a Tennis Channel interview: "You hardly ever see a great one that's not humble. The better they are, the less they talk about it."