By Douglas Perry – Friday, October 21, 2011 (As always, a well written article by Douglas Perry)
You’re a fan. You keep up on things. No doubt you rode the emotional roller coaster as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer battled over five tense sets in the U.S. Open semifinals last month. Surely you caught every moment back in January when Francesca Schiavone gutted it out over Svetlana Kuznetsova in a four-hour, 44-minute fourth rounder in Melbourne.
Pikers, those matches. Yawners.
At least in comparison to the most exciting tennis of the year—matches you almost certainly missed and maybe didn’t even hear anything about. I’m talking about Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko coming from waaay behind in the final to win the Australian Open. I’m talking about Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina madly crushing winners throughout a surprise run to the French Open final.
That’s right, I’m saying what you think I’m saying. The real action in professional tennis, the greatest thrills and surprises, comes from women’s doubles. It’s the best-kept secret in sports, with even second-week Grand Slam matches played before only a smattering of spectators and no TV cameras.
It ain’t right. Casual tennis fans view doubles as filler between singles matches, as the equivalent of the rodeo clown diverting your attention before the bronc rider is set loose. But perhaps the problem is that they don’t know what they’re watching.
“You need to understand the game,” says Kveta Peschke, the reigning Wimbledon champion with Katarina Srebotnik. “Where to play, where to place the ball. It’s a different strategy than in singles.” That lack of comprehension even reaches into the players’ ranks, she says. “Sometimes you can have a player who is great in singles, unbelievably good, who doesn’t really understand the game of doubles.”
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