R-Fedz defeated Pete "Bland-as" Sampras in a turgidly-produced, awkwardly battled affair last night at Madison. Square. Garden.- -THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS ARENA!!!! Sorry, still a little out of it from having that phrase drummed into my skull over the entirety of the 3.5-hour broadcast.
3.5 hours! Perhaps you're wondering if such an epic length was because of an epic 5-set back-and-forth tenisgravaganza. Nope, a solid hour-long "pregame" which consisted of an ooooooh-viewing of the Davis Cup, the usual trotting out of Billie Jean King, who later turned out for the opening of an envelope in my office, and painful-painful interviews with the many celebs in the sellout crowd about their favorite Madison Square Garden--THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS ARENA!!!! moment. Nancy Kerrigan, looking eerily like Barbara Bush, mumbled something about all the history, hey did you know there's a show called Madison Square Garden- -THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS ARENA!!!-Vault showing clips of when important things actually happened at the Garden?
Remember the '69 Knicks? Remember the '94 Rangers? Remember the '84 Redmen? THEY DO! And they'll keep shoving it down our throats until Wee Jimmy Dolan stops rockin n rolling. AKA FOREVER.
The Tennis itself? -Meh- Clearly the fix was in. Federer flailed at every Sampras serve as awkwardly as Larry David taking a shit in the handicapped stall. He returned every ball right to Sampras like they were in an extended warm-up. There were moments of genuine skill, to be sure, but the slick surface didn't help induce any rallies.
The bigger story here is the proper marketing of tennis. Clearly, as evidenced by the 20,000+ in attendance who paid steep, steep prices, the hunger to watch live tennis outside of the US Open is there. But this production was lousy. Sampras came out to "Superman" music, (sadly, not Soulja Boy) while R-Fedz came out to the "Evil Empire" music. Bluntly, Sampras is an unlikable oaf, clearly the crowd had a difficult time getting behind him, even when he lamely exhorted them with "c'mon, this is not London! I want to hear you New York!" after the 2nd set.
Why shouldn't tennis be structured more like Boxing as they are both sports centered around individual personalities? Leaving the Grand Slam alone, tennis could sure use more 1-on-1 nights like this, just presented better and with more compelling matchups. How about a double-header, Federer-Nadal followed by Sampras-Agassi. Wait, round-robin, winner faces Ivan Lendl. Sponsored by Snapple Sport! Snap it up!
P.S. Ivan "Too hard to Handl" Lendl appeared in every US Open Final betwixt 1981 and 1989.