Daily Bagel: ESPN made a poor decision by not airing Federer-Nishikori live
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• Video: Kei Nishikori almost KO'd Roger Federer with an overhead smash.
• Steve Tignor on why ESPN's decision to tape-delay Wednesday night's match between Federer and Nishikori was short-sighted.
Yet ESPN, of all places, should know that if you don’t show it, and you don’t hype it, no one will come. This year, for the first time, the network has the rights to the finals in Miami. Next year, for the first time, it will have the rights to the finals of the U.S. Open. Presumably, ESPN wants people to watch those matches, or at least have an idea of what they might be seeing. You wouldn’t have known it last night. The network had the best free promotional material that anyone could have for tennis -- a dramatic upset of Roger Federer, being played in prime time on the East Coast -- yet it couldn’t find a place for the match on TV at all.
• Curious about how and why the tournament's television deals work like they do? Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times gets to the bottom of why the WTA has been completely shafted at the Sony Open. The bottom line: No one wants to pay the bill.
The tournament produces the minimum required amount of matches for a WTA Premier Mandatory event, which is 20. Perform pays for additional matches to be produced, at a cost of about $8,000 to $9,000 per match, according to the tournament director, Adam Barrett.
“We’re neutral as to which matches go out,” he said. “We’re a men’s and women’s event; as long as we have something to put out, we’re good — so long as there’s a quality match out there.”
Barrett indicated an unwillingness to foot the bill for additional women’s matches, which the tournaments in Indian Wells and Madrid had done.
“It’s always my belief that the international broadcaster should broadcast as much as they can generate,” said Barrett, referring to Perform. “They are the ones that benefit from the profit side. We don’t get any more money. We don’t get any more money if they produce more matches and sell more matches. We get the same amount, so our deal is simply 20 matches for a fee.”
But Allaster said the WTA could not subsidize an individual tournament’s world feed production “because we’d then have to do that for everybody.”
• Did you know Piotr Wozniacki's legal name is actually Victor Krason? Here's the scoop.
• FiveThirtyEight's Carl Bialik breaks down John Isner's home-court advantage.
I pulled his career match record and ran a logistic regression, controlling for surface, the ranking of his opponent and the value of each match, in ranking points. Even after controlling for these factors, Isner remains a homecoming king. Surface, it turns out, isn’t a statistically significant driver of his success. Nor is the value of winning the match. His opponent’s ranking is highly significant. But independent of these factors, a 50-50 match for Isner away from home becomes a match he’ll win two out of three times in the U.S.
• Patrick Hruby of Sports on Earth on Federer's amazing ability to stay competitive in his 30s.
Most of Federer's age-group peers -- Marat Safin, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Tommy Robredo, James Blake, Lleyton Hewitt, David Nalbandian and the like -- are either out of tennis or greatly diminished. Meanwhile, Federer is still playing. More to the point, he's still kicking butt. In fact, he's kicking butt at a rate and in a manner that's largely unprecedented for a men's tennis player his age, which means that the best and most appropriate way to both measure and appreciate him is not by comparing Current Roger to Peak Roger, but rather by comparing Current Roger to Every Other 30-Something Tennis Champ Who Tried to Hold On.
• Martina Hingis and Sabine Lisicki saved seven match points to make the semifinals of the Sony Open. • Non-tennis: ESPN's ombudsman says the network needs to focus on the real news stories even if it's not what viewers want.