What was the difference watching this match from here instead of on TV? From my pressroom monitor, errors appeared to have been produced by mental lapses or stupid risks. “How could Petkovic hit that into the net? She must be choking. Kuzzie, will you ever learn?” But when you get on the court, you can see that while there are pointless misses, the majority of them come because each player feels that she must live with a certain amount risk in her game—Petkovic aims for the baseline; Kuznetsova swings from the heels—because if they play it safe, they’re going to get killed on the next ball. Women’s tennis 2010: Don’t call it a bash fest; call it an arms race. For better and worse, hitting the hell out of the ball is playing percentage tennis. Only seeing it up close, closing the distance between yourself and the players, will let you appreciate this. Stylistic variety? That's an aesthetic element of the sport which is emphasized by the colder, distanced view of the TV camera. Here you feel the sparks of the athletic combat that goes on beneath.
From an emotional standpoint, you might see Murray as a whiner, a guy who’s always got some niggling complaint about something. Up close you can hear him mumble to himself, take deep breaths, get annoyed at an invisible person in the audience. Taken together, these little tics and gestures begin to seem like Murray’s method of competing, of bracing himself, bit by bit, moment by moment, for the psychological strains of a match. It’s the pep talk of a fundamentally pessimistic person, and it doesn’t look like an easy act to pull off. When Murray tells the crowd to shut up a few inches from me, it isn’t anger that I see in his face. It’s embarrassment over his missed shot, over his small failure. Every tennis match is a performance where flubbed lines are a given. But that doesn't make flubbing a shot in public any easier.
Read the whole piece. It's fantastic. What I love about Steve's writing, aside from his eloquence, is the clear passion for the game. A lot of tennis writers, I won't name names, sound like writing about tennis is a chore, an annoyance, a thorn in their side. You finish reading their pieces and regardless of the quality of their analysis (to the extent there is *any* analysis at all) you don't feel like they even enjoy the sport they cover. I never get that sense with Tignor's writing, which is why I always look forward to reading whatever he posts.