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ESPN commentators. From Growltiger. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on August 20, 2010


Anybody else irked with the ESPN commentators and their lack of objectivity toward Djokvoic? I’m a fan, so I admit I like the player. During Wimbledon, however, I turned off the sound because of the bashing and just enjoyed the game without hearing Brad and Patrick bash Novak constantly.

Yesterday ESPN covered No 4 Murray playing Gulbis (good match) while No 2 seeded (I know, he’s no No 3) Noval played Nalbadian, a match we all thought would go the distance because of how well Nalbandian is playing. They clicked over to the D-N match for the tiebreaker. And it started. He’s too skinny. His serve stinks. Look, he can’t breathe. Tomorrow’s going to be worse if he wins. It’s too hot for him. He’s this, he’s that. I expected them to come out with “and his mother wears combat boots” at any minute.

What was so irritating was that Murray had been gasping too, just as much as Djokovic (it was hot and they were running and trying to win) but nary a word.

I have a friend who never played tennis but whom I have gotten interested in tennis. She has only watched for two years. Because of the commentators, she actually believes Djokovic retires from games constantly or calls the trainer out all the time though she personally has only seen him retire once (Australia when the temp was over 100 degrees) and has never seen him call the trainer. It comes from the commentators. She believes what they say.

ESPN should dump Gilbert and Patrick on Djokovic matches and let Cahill call them solo because he gives good comments and is objective about EVERY player. He probably has favorites, but I don’t know who they are. That’s the way its supposed to be.

And, adding, what about Roddick. He had mono yet could beat a strong player like Soderling last night. Good for him. But I’m betting had that been Djokovic, the commentators would have said Djokovic was FAKING the mono. It’s gotten out of hand. We don’t have objectivity in political reporting, surely we can have it in tennis.


38 Responses to “ESPN commentators. From Growltiger. Thanks.”

  1. Bettyjane said

    I cannot disagree! Gilbert is especially bad because he should know better. A few years ago during the Wimbledon fortnight where Rafa won his first title, Brad had already anointed Rafa the title of GOAT. Before the epic final. And before the guy made a U.S. Open final.

    But you have to admit, Djoker can be such an easy target with those parents and thugs in the stands with the frick and frack yellow shirts. lol.

    • Growltiger said

      I hope I am objective – I try to be. Tachinni should be shot for putting those awful rags on Djokovic. But is he blind? He should refuse to wear those things. He has enough money to buy his own tennis clothes FGS. Wear all white with the logo painted over rather than look like a clown.

      I see nothing wrong with his parents. They screwed up on Australian two years ago and acted like fools – what would YOU do if your son were in the final? But since they’ve behaved themselves.

      I can’t disagree about the thuggees who travel with him. I’ve said repeatedly, he’s headed for the bottom of the top ten if he doesn’t dump his coach (5-10). He makes terrible shot selection. But yesterday they were bashing him before he even stepped on the court.

      I watched the match with the sound turned off because I couldn’t stand the constant negativity. It’s spoiling tennis to have the commentators so openly against some players (Djoko and now Nadal sometimes) and so unabashedly rooting for others (Roddick, Federer). I swear I think Brad has an orgasm when Fed walks on the court.

      The other night Roddick made an ass of himself mouthing off at the umpire. Patrick and the other announcer make a few tsks at his behavior but nothing compared to how they’d have gone off if Djokovic or Nadal did the same thing.

      I love tennis. I love the men’s pro game. I hate to see it destroyed by bad commentators. For those who have the Tennis Channel, you know what I mean. I enjoy listening to their commentary.

      • M said

        I’m not sure it’s only them, Growltiger. I’m late to this thread, so it may have already been said, but I was quite irritated with the “Marys” (Carillo and Jo Fernandez) for ripping on Venus, and on Shrieka. I mean, they just would not stop with the catty comments.

  2. Jenny said

    I’m in the UK so I don’t hear your guys in commentary, but I totally understand how you must feel, growltiger. I like Novak too. Whether one is a fan of a player or not, all players are entitled to objective commentary, unless they really deserve otherwise on the day. Virginia Wade is very good in that respect, she always calls the positives and downplays the negatives, most of our better comms are similar. Actually our comms have been very positive and objective about Novak and others, they can go a little over the top when they call a Murray match, eg breathless high pitched gasps of ‘genius’ and other stuff that many other players do, understandable to some extent I guess, but in general no real complaints about our comms.

    • Somebody Else said

      Jenny, who’s commentary are you getting for this tournament?

      • Jenny said

        Hi SE, Sky are broadcasting on TV, we get Mark Petchey [Murray’s former coach before Gilbert], Peter Fleming [Mac’s old doubs partner], Barry Cowan [former British pro], it tends to be the main show court. If on Bet 365 stream, Grandstand court, I have no idea, but they tend to be Brits.

      • Jenny said

        Sometimes we get Leif Shiras, but not in Cincy, he works with Sky on occasions, I believe he called Toronto at times. Eurosport have their own comms which do include those mentioned in my previous reply, but they don’t cover the North American hard court season.

    • Growltiger said


      I LOVE when the Brits do the commentary. I hated it when (years ago) HBO gave up Wimbledon and we lost BBC commentary.
      The few times I’ve heard your commentary, I’ve been impressed.
      Tennis channel here is good, too. It’s just ESPN that stinks.

      I forgive commentators of any country for promoting THEIR player. I love Andy Murray and with ya’ll’s only having the one player I’d EXPECT the commentary to be favorable. But that doesn’t mean they have to bash the opponent.

      • Jenny said

        But that doesn’t mean they have to bash the opponent.

        I feel the same, it’s not acceptable to me. As we might say in the UK, ‘it’s not cricket’!

  3. evie said

    I find commentators very irritating as well, but Nole brought the rap he has on himself. He’s retired in every Slam but one. That alone is a stunning stat, but he also acts like he is on his last breath frequently on court and he’s retired many times from other tournaments, often when he is games away from losing. He’s doing better with the retirements, but not with the constant on-court histrionics.

    • Growltiger said

      I’ve only gotten back into tennis in the past few years. I’ve seen Djokovic retire in one slam – Australia – against Andy Roddick. What other slams has he retired in? What years? Are you in the US? Do you get your information from the commentators? TP, are you reading this? Can you provide me with the slams Djokovic has retired in? I’m interested.

      I believe Djokoic has exercise induced asthma — a friend’s daughter had it. The treatment is steroids which are banned in tennis. Thus, it’s like a diabetic playing out there but unable to take insulin. Do people expect him to die on court?

      Others call the trainers more than Djkovic (at least in the three years I’ve been back watching) but HE’s the one the commentators bang on.

      I’m a political junkie, admitted, and I chafe at the way political news is propagandized. I may be overly sensitive but I see the tennis commentators in ESPN doing the same thing to Djokovic.

      • Jenny said

        If I might answer this. I got the info from the ATP site, but saw some of these retirements on TV myself. There were of course many occasions when he needed medical attention during matches which can only be authenticated by reliable witness, I think most of us have seen them. In no way am I suggesting these retirements weren’t genuine, it would be daft to consider a pro would throw in the towel if he felt fit enough to play.

        2007 – Semis – Wimby – opponent Nadal
        2008 – Semis – Monte Carlo – opponent Fed
        2008 – DC – opponent Davydenko
        2009 – AO – quarters – opponent Roddick
        2010 – Quarters – Belgrade – opponent Krajinovic

        Feel free to check my stats above and let me know if I’ve made an error.

  4. mircea said

    Nole is a misguided charming kid. Cut him some slack. Who really enjoys playing and being stuck at # 3 in the Federer Nadal era?

  5. Rick said

    Multiple reactions to this one:

    First off, Dijana Djokovic does wear combat boots, or did. I think part of the resurgence in Djokovic’s popularity has to do with the fact that she and the old man are nowhere to be seen any more these days, for which we can all say a little prayer of thanks. I’m sure Djokovic and/or his publicist had something to do with that. I still think back with fond Schadenfreude to DD’s ridiculously premature pronouncement that “The king is dead, long live the king!” back when Novak won the AO. And I’m with Bettyjane on the obligatory player’s box uniforms — it just spreads the bad taste around, and gives new meaning to the term “fashion victim”. The coaches look ridiculous in those Tweedle-dum Tweedle-dee outfits.

    Second, Brad Gilbert is a certified jerk in most settings. Pat is generally better, but yeah, I do think he has it in for Djokovic nonetheless. So in general, I agree that Djokovic has become too easy a target to pick on and is being treated unfairly — it’s kind of become a pile-on at this point. I mean, you gotta feel for the guy that he’s struggling with finding a stable place in his game and in the field, just as Roddick has done so many times (though to be fair, he got crap for it, too). I guess we should just be glad that Mats Wilander (who I used to really like as a player) doesn’t work for ESPN.

    That said, I also agree with Evie that Djokovic’s reputation for retiring and calling the trainer didn’t just appear out of nowhere — he more than did his part to bring this on himself. But I mean, maybe the guy really does have serious fundamental health issues (asthma is no joke), in which case we should be applauding him for being so successful with perhaps a kind of disability. For me, his most egregious behavior was instead at the US Open after he beat Roddick and openly taunted him on the stadium mike in front of the entire pro-American crowd, and then took on the crowd as well when they booed him. Admittedly Roddick had seriously pissed him off with comments about his retiring for a myriad of reasons, but Djokovic seems to have matured enough now to not take everything as a personal affront to his manhood. And I think it is true that he has stopped his regrettable former general behavior of baiting crowds at various venues because he thought they didn’t show him enough love. So there seems to have been definite improvement on that front. I think he takes it all with a grain of salt now and let’s it roll off his back more now.

    And I would like to express everlasting gratitude that the chest-thumping seems to have abated, at least for now. This may have to do with the fact that Mommy is no longer around telling him how special he is in every way.

    • RafaFan said

      Well said Rick. Thanks. I like “The king is dead, long live the king” quote! lol. The only thing I blame Federer is for being too humble. ‘With people of only moderate ability modesty is mere honesty; but with those who possess great talent it is hypocrisy’ Also true for Nadal GOAT of clay.

    • Growltiger said

      Excellent analysis.

      I think we should all remember Djokovic just turned 23. His silly behavior was that of a 21 year old.

      He got into trouble with his spot on imitations. Roddick (who has no sense of humor about himself but a great sense of humor at somebody else’s expense) took offense (as did Federer who is very self-important). Nadal and Sharapova laughed and had fun.

      So far as Mats Wilander comentating, I really don’t care how hard the commentator is on the players so long as they don’t bash one or the other. I’d feel the same way about ESPN if Brad, Patrick et al were bashing Soderling or Baghdatis or Nalbandian or any touring pro the way they do Djokovic. It runs the fun of the game and you can’t believe anything they say because you distrust their commentary.

      • Somebody Else said

        “Roddick (who has no sense of humor about himself but a great sense of humor at somebody else’s expense)…”

        — I used to have a sense of humor at his expense, too!

      • BANTI said

        If we were denied seeing Novak play for some reason, Tennis would miss Novak more than any player outside of FEDAL , that says it all.

      • Jill said

        That’s a good point Banti. Thinking about it if Murray stopped playing tomorrow would I mind? No. Djokovic? Yes. I prefer his tennis and his persona. Many excellent players have been overshadowed because of the brilliance, in their very different ways, of Federer and Nadal.

      • Jenny said

        Agreed, Jill.

  6. Jenny said

    It’s true, Nole went through that rather unfortunate, way over the top period, Evie and Rick summed it up well. Of course the med times and retirements didn’t help his cause either. He was then perceived as being ‘all mouth and no trousers’. I’ll never forget his bizarre post match remark after Rafa beat him some years ago, ‘I was in control’, Gilbert jumped on that one like a cat on a mouse. Seriously, who could blame him? The media feasted on the bravado and other stuff like vultures, as Bettyjane said, he was an easy target. However, I always felt he was pushed and ill-advised because it was affecting his reputation and career, he was getting stressed and defensive, apart from losing alleged credibility with his peers, [locker room pecking order and all that] which is not a good idea. As I said before, he was never brattish or arrogant when he was ranked outside the top ten. He was respectful to all concerned and very likeable, plus he swung a mean racquet. Fortunately, he has matured, I hope he manages to resolve his health issues too. As I see it, Nole has moved on in many ways, I really think some of the comms should too, concentrate on his positives and give the guy a fair crack of the whip in commentary.

    • Growltiger said

      Novak did much better last year when Todd Martin coached him. His serve went South, but now his whole game is gone. He looks sick (Brad’s right about that – he’s too skinny), has dark circles under his eyes, but for the most part he keeps his mouth shut, never bad mouths the other players, and I think the proof of the pudding is that is No 3 in the world and is friends with Nos 1 and 4.

      Lately I’ve been wondering if he should consult with Ivan Lendl who was a marvelous player “back in the day” but who got incredible sheist from the sports commentators including Sports Illustrated. By the way, do ya’ll get “Tennis Magazine”? It’s awful. This month the USTA Magazine was far better. They need to fire Evert. She’s a lousy editor.

      • Rick said

        I dunno, I’m old enough to have watched Lendl play, and he was eminently unlikeable.
        Djokovic at least has his share of charm; Lendl had none.
        So had I been a commentator back then, I would have given him sheist as well.

      • jennifur said

        lendl had a kind of similar game + is european. so u might b onto something growltiger … a partnership btwn these 2 might work!!! maybe forget consulting and hire as a coach!? a second coach? help of some kind?

      • Jenny said

        Re: Future coach/consultant. I agree with Rick’s comment about Lendl, he was a grim personality, although he was a great player. What he’s like off court or as a coach, I wouldn’t know. Imo, Novak needs someone with the right balance and personality. Novak is a fun-loving guy with a lot of talent, I think he needs the ‘iron fist in the velvet glove’ treatment to bring out the best in him tennis-wise and he still gets to have fun and enjoy playing his game without feeling suppressed or dominated, imo that would be a disaster, it’s a fine balance. I can’t honestly see Lendl being that person.

  7. mircea said

    Everyone knows about Gilbert’s credentials as Master Douche. Too bad he’s found a way to weasel himself into the booth. Studio execs must be having a hard time getting quality people. Unfortunately, Gilbert’s notoriously negative influence has found a way to influence Patrick as well. Then again if American tennis is sliding downhill, why shouldn’t its commentators be part of the ride.

  8. BANTI said

    Brad Gilbert should be tossed by ESPN ASAP, a no brainer. Novak is maturing nicely. Chest thumping needs to stop, but other than that, his post match interviews from the last few years have shown a kid that’s obviously matu. ring. He needs to fix his mental game, but once he does that and he starts winning matches again that he shouldn’t lose, his fan base will come along nicely.

  9. UM17 said

    Yes, Banti and everyone else – Gilbert is horrifying. The man never actually talks about tennis!! That’s probably the most irritating thing, the player bashing and slobbering is rarely even about the actual game. Darren Cahill is one of the only guys we hear in the US that’s actually talking about the players’ game, technique, shot selection, whatever – I want to actually LEARN something by hearing them! For gossip, I can take the internet, thank you very much.

    Re: Djokovic – I think there really is something up with his breathing. There is no reason someone at his level of achievement as an athlete should huff and puff that much unless he has a condition. The anabolic steroids that are illegal and the glucocorticosteroids that would help control asthma aren’t the same thing, but I wonder how specific the tests are. Even with properly controlled asthma you can have attacks, for which he would be prescribed an inhaler if he saw a US doctor…who knows. But I am curious and want to order some spirometry for him like, ASAP.

  10. jennifur said

    thank u thank u thank u!!!! gr8 points.

    every djok match espn commentators negative beyond belief!!!!!!!! bring up “retirement slam” EVERY time.

    watch british commentators instead ….. goodall even said “y is no one sayin djok a contender for uso?” hes been frozen out.

    djok has had history …but is perpetuated negatively repetitively by espn peeps.

    hv boycotted their coverage …. but they shud b complained 2. its crazzzzzzeeeeee furrre surrrre.

    thanks 2 growltiger!!!

  11. jennifur said

    ” As I see it, Nole has moved on in many ways, I really think some of the comms should too”

    exactly 2 jenny … players actions of 3-4 yrs prior dont need 2 b rehashed again + again…. is tiring even if not fan 2 listen 2 it. get a brain + comment *on the match* *on the players games* – not on what happened b4 or personality or locker rm fights etc etc. …..

  12. Diane said

    Novak has asthma and it was confirmed last week by Chris Fowler and Doug Adler, and a few weeks before by Boris Becker who said, Novak is an asthmatic. So I give him tremendous credit for achieving what he has already. He’s made it clear in several interviews that his health always comes first, then tennis, then success.

    Monfils and DelPotro have lots more retirements but no one comments on that.

    Novak gets on with Nadal the most, since they both have the same management. It was Novak who sat with Uncle Toni and Nadal the night he lost RG to Soderling. He is friendly with Murray and Fed has buried the hatchet with Novak too. Last year when Novak was in Basel at Fed’s tourney, Fed’s parents invited Novak’s parents to their house. It’s all over with that chapter. Let’s move on, they have. Recently Fed has been referring to Novak as Nole or Novak. He still calls Andy Murray, Murray. So there is still some tension between them. I know Novak is extremely popular on the Asian swing and on mainland Europe where he speaks many languages to the crowds after wins.

    I also heard a few years ago that Brad Gilbert was eager to coach Novak but I guess Novak probably didn’t want it, hence the negativity by Brad.

    Novak #2, was relegated to the grandstand in Cincy while #4 Murray got center court. Novak put up a good fight with Nalbandian on grandstand and the next day gave a lackluster performance to show his displeasure with the organizers. He had been disrespected. Even Roddick said afterwards he didn’t think Novak played his best tennis and missed a lot of balls. I dont’ think he cares about US tournaments anymore. He won Miami and IW and got to Cincy finals twice and US Open final once, so screw them.

    The only fair commentator is John McEnroe.He usually defends Novak and said, regarding MTO’s, they are legal and if no one likes it, change the rules. P Mac has a problem with Novak since his crack davis cup team lost to Novak and Co. this year. They will never give Novak a break and he knows it.

    • M said

      Nice insights, Diane. Thank you.

      “The only fair commentator is John McEnroe.He usually defends Novak and said, regarding MTO’s, they are legal and if no one likes it, change the rules.”

      Oh, snap.

      *tries to hide laugh behind hand*

  13. Rick said

    This thread is a testament to why I can’t seem to tear myself away from this site, much as I have tried, for time management reasons.
    Everyone is so thoughtful, balanced, fair, and (fairly 🙂 ) objective in their analysis and commentary, it actually gives one a bit of hope for the future of civil, unmonitored dialogue on the internet.
    Meaning: I thought Djokovic got a really fair shake throughout.
    Everyone please remember this thread the next time was are accused of being blindly partisan or irrevocably biased against a particular player.
    I just want to say it’s a great privilege to be part of this select on-line community.

  14. Jenny said

    For Nole’s fans.

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