Tennis: The more things change…

by Andrew Gigacz

It’s just over four months since Sam Stosur bowed out of the Australian Open. You might remember Stosur’s brave but ultimately unsuccessful effort against Serena Williams. But you could hardly be blamed for not being able to recall it.

Why? Because as that exciting match was unfolding, the Seven Network, in their infinite wisdom, chose to show on FOUR of their five available channels, a pale imitation of an hour of news and current affairs before treating us to a half-hour of quality drama in Home and Away.

If you feel the urge the really wind yourself up, you can see the full story of that debacle here:

But life goes on. The Grand Slam tennis circus has moved to Roland-Garros and we are well into the second week of the French Open. As fate would have it the quarter finals have thrown Sam Stosur up against Serena Williams once more. The two were due to meet on Wednesday evening at around 10:30pm. What a perfect way to top off a cold winter’s evening: knocking off a cuppa or two in front of the telly while cheering Stosur on towards a French Open semi-final birth.

I have fond memories of staying up way too late in the ’80s and watching match after match on Channel 9 over the two weeks of the French Open. And I looked forward to reliving those times, if just for one night, on Wednesday evening.

But when I turned on Channel 9, I was confronted by a strangely familiar feeling. It was just past 10:30 and the news was on. I quickly checked the guide. The tennis would start at 11:00pm. This was annoying but at least I’d be able to see the majority of this match, probably the most important of Sam Stosur’s career.

Wouldn’t I?

Sadly, infuriatingly not.

Certainly the tennis did come on; and it was the French Open. But it was not live coverage of it. Merely a highlights package of the previous day’s play.

So as Sam Stosur’s big moments were played out, tennis fans were subject to an annoying voice trying to drum up viewer tension by asking us if Roger Federer could come back and ultimately hold off Robin Soderling in a game that finished 24 hours earlier, the result of which anyone with a passing interest in tennis would have already known.

Thus, just as had happened four months earlier, I was forced to turn to the internet and watch a scoreboard updating every 30 seconds or so to find out how Sam Stosur would fair against the might of Serena Williams.

Amazingly, when a close match is nearing a climax, watching a static screen and waiting for a “15” to change to a “30” can actually be quite exciting. But certainly not the equal of watching the game live on TV.

The great news is that Sam Stosur survived a match point to defeat Williams 8-6 in the third set.

For Stosur, fortunes appear to have taken a turn for the better.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for fans of free-to-air tennis.

About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?


  1. Peter Flynn says

    Gigs (and others),

    When getting screwed in this fashion, go to the following website:

    Here you can watch live sport. I haven’t tried it for AFL but apparently you can watch Friday night and Sunday arvo footy live.

    I’m a snooker fan and watched a fair bit of the recent World Champs on this website.

  2. haiku bob says

    I was with you Gigs.
    It’s how I followed the footy while living overseas in the late 90’s early 00’s.
    It’s really not as torturous as it may seem, watching a scoreboard tick over.
    I like the silence (no commentary).
    And I like drawing my own picture of what’s happening.
    And then reading about it the next day…
    It kinda works.

  3. haiku bob says


    Ronnie O’Sullivan is the most gifted sportsman in the world. True or False?

    By the length of the straight if you ask me.

  4. John Mosig says

    Time to up-date to cable I’m afraid Peter My Boy. A pisser I know, but it’s the future. How could the AFL be able to afford to poach rugby marquee names without the billion dollar TV rights?

    Are you going to the launch of Cheryl’s book at the London Tavern on the 17th? All may be revealed, eh?

  5. Peter Flynn says

    I’ve got Austar. I reckon I will go to Cheryl’s gig.


    I love Ronnie O’Sullivan. I was in Liverpool when I caught this on the box (link below).

    Ronnie battles some demons and is a true genius.


  6. David Downer says

    Gigs I was lucky enough to see it on Foxtel last night. I dont often get enveloped in women’s tennis, especially on the red dirt – but it was some match. It’s a pity Fred Stolle can’t match living room excitement in the box – it was a special win, but there aint much colour coming from the commentary. Time to move on Fred.

    I remember all too well the debacle back at the Aus Open. When the telecast finally returned following that “Holy Trinity”, a very sheepish J.Griggs “urgently” takes us straight back to “pick up play” in the Stosur-Williams match – of course it was just a token REPLAY of the last few points.

    Griggsy also hosts a show that deprives us of live footy on Friday nights ..what has she got against us??

  7. Danielle says

    i didn’t get to see my Federer play
    (had to study so i wouldn’t fail business and or history)
    and now i found out HE LOST!!!!
    Does anyone know if Roger is having injury soreness, b/c him losing is NOT NORMAL PEOPLE!!

  8. John Kingsmill says

    Excellent writing! You should be in a book.

  9. Pamela Sherpa says

    Very amusing to see people getting upset about TV coverage of tennis. Footy fans north of the Murray have been treated like second class citizens for years. It’s a national game in name only.

  10. Flynny, thanks for the tip and link.

    HB, yes, I agree. You can paint your own picture as you watch the score change.

    David, yes I remember the Griggsy moment. Maybe I need to track her down and have a heart-to-heart chat with her – or would that be a Gigsy-to-Griggsy chat? I imagine that, given the freedom to express her own opinion, she would probably expound the same views we felt at the time. She might even agree about Friday night footy!

    As a Melbourne resident, I don’t actually have a problem with the delayed telecast, provided the game is in Melbourne. But if it’s interstate, then it should be mandated as live AND free-to-air. (Imagine the reaction if Adelaide viewers did not have free-to-air access to Crows games played outside South Australia. But I’ve spoken about that issue several times elsewhere.)

    I suspect, too, that Bruce and Dennis wouldn’t agree with Seven’s Sunday policy of starting their AFL telecast on one-hour delay and then stretching it so that the game finishes at exactly news time.

    John K, thanks for your most kind words.

  11. I haven’t forgotten you, Pam! I count my blessings when I think of you Northerners.

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