Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Interlude - Save the Transcript!

So it's the first week of Roland Garros, complete with epic clay-court battles, upsets and the ever capricious Parisian crowd - and yet, something is different. Or rather, something is missing. (And no, I don't mean David - though he's missing too.) During this year's Roland Garros, there will be no transcripts of the players' press conferences, at the request of the International Tennis Writers Association (ITWA). To ensure that tennis fans around the world get what the ITWA considers to be the best possible coverage - by its professional writers and not by reading transcripts or, what's even worse, blogs.

Back when I first became a David fan, I soon learned to appreciate transcripts. Not just because there weren't that many articles about David in the English-speaking press but also because a lot of those I did get to read seemed biased, designed to further David's image as the eternally grumpy sourpuss. It's true, David can be rather uncooperative, dealing with the media. Still, the impression I got was that those articles were more about his image than about David, himself. That's how I came to appreciate transcripts - no bias, just questions and answers, unedited and uncut. And including those little details that may not necessarily be article material - but that are interesting for fans because they convey a much more complete picture of the player.
Here are a couple of examples from David's press conferences over the years (with links to the complete transcripts):

An anecdote from the past (Wimbledon 2002)
Q. You were a semifinalist in the Junior event here, correct?
DAVID: Yeah, I do.
Q. You were disqualified?
DAVID: Yeah.
Q. Because you were late to the match, if I understand correctly.
DAVID: Yeah, they change the schedule, and I never know it.
Q. How early are you going to come to the semifinal?
DAVID: I think I going to sleep here (smiling).
A special kind of celebration (Australian Open 2003)
Q. You went back to your ciudad, your home, it's not little, but a small place. I think you told us at the US Open that they had a statue of you there, or was it a plaque?
DAVID: A racquet.
Q. Pardon me?
DAVID: A racquet.
Q. In marble or steel?
DAVID: No, I don't know.
Q. But it's there?
DAVID: I don't make it, the racquet.
Q. It's there forever?
DAVID: Yeah.
Too early for David (Monte Carlo 2006)
Q. Was it too early for you?
DAVID: Very early. I don't know, this kind of tournament, it's ridiculous to play at this time. Looks like, I don't know, futures - futures in, I don't know, nowhere. So it's ridiculous.
Q. You're not used to playing that early?
DAVID: No, no. And when you ask to play a little bit late, so it's worse.
The well-kept secret to beating Federer (Indian Wells 2008)
Q. Were you looking forward to playing Roger again and maybe beating him a third time in a row?
DAVID: Why not?
Q. Do you have some insight or some secrets on how that's done?
DAVID: Yeah.
Q. Would you like to share them or something?
DAVID: No.
Q. So you really think you could beat him again? You're looking forward to it?
DAVID: Uh-huh.
These are just a few of those little moments that could very easily be lost if the ITWA gets its way. But if transcripts really pose a threat to tennis journalism - then what does that say about tennis journalism...

51 comments:

  1. Does that apply only for Roland Garros?

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  2. That's what we're going to find out. There are protests now, we'll see what's going to happen.

    I mean, I also have the Argentine media I can rely on. But can you believe that at least some ITWA folks seriously think that fans would be better off without blogs? Just amazing...

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  3. And the funny part is that out of all the well-known writers, it's Pete Bodo who's taking a stand against the ITWA and already did in the past.

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  4. Hey Julia, thanks for the heads up on ITWA. And kudos to Peter for being a whistle blower. I know, I know. He's not complimentary to David, but he often does provide interesting perspective. Heck, we can't like everything someone writes. As Joe commented on in the last post, there is hardly any tennis coverage in the U.S. Diane Pucin of the Los Angeles Times covers Indian Wells and Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald reports on the Sony Ericsson and that's about it. Pretty grim. I doubt it's much better in other countries. The only place you can find any info is on blogs. If I hadn't found Vamos David I don't know what I would have done. Probably have become a Jo-Willie fan. Naw, I doubt it. Blogging rules. Of course, we in the trade, have to protest as well as tennis fans.

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  5. Still laughing about that "futures nowhere" comment. Ah, David...priceless! :)

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  6. In Croatia we have a lot of news sites that are just about sports,there you can find anything about pretty much every sport.Tennis,you can even follow Croatian players in futures events,they have daily reports of pretty much every tournament.I guess were just crazy about sports.

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  7. Nice selection of quotes there. :)

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  8. Protests? really ?
    Well sports without blogs is just stupid. And yeah, you rely on Argentine media and some reliable journalists mostly and thats not bad.

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  9. Protests as in people letting RG and above all the members of the ITWA know what bloggers and fans (i.e. the ITWA's target audience) think about it.
    My point about the Argentine media is - of course it's usually the press from a player's home country you can get the most info from. But what if, in David's case, you don't speak Spanish? (Or Croatian, for example.) That's something blogs can help with, after all tennis is a global sport and players have fans all over the world, not just in their home country. And that includes those who are not at the very top of the rankings and therefore receive much less general media attention.

    John, it not just Bodo's articles on David, it's his rather generous approach to facts. Something that seems to be typical of the US/UK media (and I sometimes see it in the German press, as well). Keeping the transcripts from the fans also means keeping them from checking what the players really said and in what context - and to compare it with the media's version of it.

    I mean, of course the ITWA's problem lies not with little, specialised blogs like VD but with the big, general tennis ones. But if those are perceived as a threat then why don't the ITWA folks ask themselves what makes those blogs so successful and what maybe they could be doing better, instead of trying to monopolise information.

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  10. Blogs shouldn't be a threat at all. Basically they're trying to decrease the popularity of blogs, however this won't necessarily result in an increase of readers on other sites. I think the media and blogs are completely different anyway. I think my blog is one of the few to hardly use any quotes from interviews, lol. Interviews are a hot topic on most tennis blogs.

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  11. On a different but David-related note, I'm reading what's apparently another reason for his early arrival in London - the chance to watch the Champions League final live at Wembley.
    If so, then he'll have to be in London by Saturday evening.

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  12. And he wants of course Barcelona to win :)

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  13. Yep, that much is certain. :)

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  14. since you brought that up, Anyone knows if David is a Barca or Real Madrid fan?

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  15. Well, most of all he's a River Plate fan. But when it comes to Spanish clubs then it's Barça for David. (Also his team of choice on the Playstation.)

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  16. hahah thanks for the info :)
    David, Monaco, Rafa and ferrer always play playstation together

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  17. Sometimes, yeah. When the opportunity arises. But also with his DC teammates and his friends at home. ;)

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  18. hey Julia, have you ever watched the German player Gorges ? i've been following her for the last 2 months, very talented, and returns like Nalbandian. She was down -5 in 3rd set, now 4-5. hope she breaks again. She is in my best 5 WTA players list, 1st being Azarenka lol

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  19. i jinxed her, she lost :(

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  20. I've heard of her, yeah. But I don't follow WTA. I think I haven't watched a WTA match since Steffi Graf retired.
    So I know the names and some of the faces but rankings, champions, playing styles? No idea.
    But what I can tell you is that our Argentine friends Miche and Cano like Julia Görges - they keep tweeting that she's pretty... lol

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  21. Sharapova is my favorite player and the best, when it comes to class. And now she is nearly 2 years in top form again and has a big chance to win RG. She and Davydenko are very similar players in compare to their class and their mental weakness sometimes, and both play very fast. And Azarenka is like Sharapova as a tennis player. I think one of them will win the title, otherwise it will be a surprise for me. And Djokovic, he has a big chance, but attention, Federer is coming back.

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  22. I mean "after" nearly 2 years

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  23. LOL Julia, well she is pretty, i fall a sleep just looking to her eyes, lmao
    and Ashot is right, Sharapova and Azarenka are the favorites to win RG this year. I like Maria as well, the only thing i don't like in her is that she screams so hard when she plays, Azarenka does that too, but less louder lol

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  24. Yeah, the screaming is one of the things I don't like so very much about WTA...

    By the way, it's a bit difficult at the moment to get news about David's trip to London because the usual sources are all in Paris for RG.

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  25. just saw Gauston Gaudio watching Wawrinka, hell probably stay to support Delpo :)

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  26. Delpo and Dokovic are playing great tennis at the moment.

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  27. Potro vs. Djoko 3:6 6:3
    tomorrow will be continued

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  28. Too bad there aren't lights on the two stadium courts. What a slugfest!

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  29. Yeah, that doesn't seem right to stop the match. It goes against the 5 set part of tennis for GSs. Now the match is a 2 out 3 set match tommorrow after they are rested and coached.

    Anyway, good and interesting to see how Del Potro has come back from bad injuries.
    I can see him cracking the top 10 and maybe top 5 at some point in the future.

    No reason David can't do the same if he wants it bad.

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  30. I think if he stays healthy he has the strength to be in the 10-15 range which would be great for him because it means a high seeding everywhere.No need to play too many tournaments,one good run at a MS or GS keeps you in the top 20 for a year.I hope something like that happens for David this season.As for Del Potro I think he will have a similar position in the rankings as Davydenko used to have,always between 3-6 but never quite 1 or 2.

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  31. Hey Adrian, well, with Del Potro, I just remember that run he had in the USOpen and winning it. I was starting to see him as I now see Djokovic, but maybe not as solid as the Djoker is now playing. Del Potro beat Nadal and Federer at the USOpen. He was leading the way to disrupting the top 1 and 2 positions and then all of a sudden he was off the tour--- serius injury!
    He was doing more than let's say Soderling, Murray, Djokovic at the time who had been haning around that 3-6 range for a while.
    So, I always viewed Del Potro as one guy who could maybe break out of 3-6 range. He seemed to be a steady climber at the time.

    But maybe that was a one time thing -- winning the USOpen.

    btw...another guy looking good to me is Ferrer -- serious underdog winner here.

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  32. I'm torn between this match. I want Delpo to win but I want Djokovic to break the 42 match win streak. Delpo was looking pretty good, but I still think Djokovic is gonna be to consistent for him tomorrow. The day rest will let him regroup and figure out his game plan for how to beat Delpo and I think delpos gonna break down earlier than Djoks gonna give him UEs. As for Ferrer, I don't see him going very far in the tournament. He's a good clay player but I don't see him reaching the finals of a Grand Slam anytime soon. He's got the fight and competitive spirit, but he has no real weapons to threaten the champions.

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  33. I agree with hardesky on this one.
    Ferrer is a great clay court player, but i dont see him reaching the final. And I as well want Novak to break the record, he deserves it. Anything couold happen, in the 2nd set yesterday, for the 1st time i saw someone outplaying djokovic on the backhand side, Delpo simply had no problems returning novak's powerful angular backhands, he only stroke them harder, and do i have to talk about his forehand? the key of who wins today will be the UEs, thats the way i see it.

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  34. I didn't expect before finals in Madrid and Rom that Novak's wins will continue because he had long hard matches before in the semis, but I always wanted that his winning streak continues, until he meets David :)

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  35. I suspect David is in London by now.How many days after RG ends does Queens start?

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  36. one day later, on June 6

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  37. Yep, David should be in London by now. (And maybe at Wembley tonight.) And I guess he'll get to play his first match on June 6, since he will have had enough time to prepare.

    Meanwhile, Delpo's match is making waves in the Argie press - not surprisingly. For my part, I guess it'll be easier for Nole to deal with the pause etc. But I'm not going to make any predictions, Delpo definitely has a chance.

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  38. can't believe 1 week left till we get to see david, fingers crossed. But the timing is awful for me, just a day before my Surgery exam lol

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  39. Yeah, it's not perfect for me, either... But I hope I'll be able to watch the match. Also depends on what time he gets to play, if he plays on the first day.

    Anyway, after his defeat Delpo told Cano: "Do they seriously want me to be on the team? Then I'll do everything I can to be there."
    We'll see.

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  40. He seems a bit surprised that they want him to play DC. maybe he spent too much time in France and started to think he is French lol.

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  41. He means for the next tie. ;)

    Who has already said that he really wants to play is Chela - still in the draw at RG and with a good chance of making QF.

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  42. I didnt get your last comment about chela Julia.

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  43. Chela wants to play the next tie, he has already said that a number of times.
    And right now, it's going really well for him at RG. He'll face Falla in R4, good chance of reaching QF. :)

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  44. oww, well it's not a bad idea to let Chela play, his latest results on clay has been outstanding, From Dusseldorf to Paris. I watched his match against Kolschriber, he was perfect.

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  45. I'm pretty sure Chela will play doubles with Schwank again. Whether he'll also get to play singles, well, that will depend on a variety of factors.

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  46. 1-1. Go Barca, make David hapy

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  47. And, has someone seen David in Wembley?

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  48. Campeones, campeones - olé, olé, olé!

    :D

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  49. David is not the only one who likes Barça here. ;)
    And nope, haven't seen him. Chances were 90.000 to 1...

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  50. Chela had a amazing draw,shows that if your in good form and the draw favors you,you can go very deep into a GS,lets say he beats Falla which he should,anything can happen in the QF,everyone is beatable except for Djokovic.Maybe David gets lucky and the tennis gods have mercy upon him and give him a easy draw in the first few rounds of Wimbledon,after that anythings possible.

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  51. Wow Chela,if he takes Falla out,would play the winner of Murray and Troicki,Murray rolled his ankle and Im not sure in what kind of shape will he be against Troicki,if Troicki goes true Im taking Chela in that match.He could make the SF of RG,amazing.

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