Chris Maume: Mirror image reflects badly on dowdy Auntie

View From The Sofa: Australian Open Tennis, BBC 2, Saturday and Sunday

After the titanic first set of the Australian Open men's single final yesterday, John Inverdale remarked that it was like "Ali versus Frazier". With all the angles Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were finding, it was as much Pythagoras versus Euclid.

I'm not sure it's ever appropriate to compare tennis to boxing – in fact I'm not sure it's appropriate to compare any sport to boxing, where the object is to render your opponent unconscious – but you knew what he meant.

It was also the like Beatles versus the Beach Boys or the Stones in the Sixties, each successive hit by one of them inspiring the others to greater heights. Certainly – and I guess it hardly needs me to say it – this is one of the greatest sporting rivalries we have ever known.

And so reminiscent of another: Borg v McEnroe. On one side of the net, the iceman who produces his best with the demeanour of someone out on a country stroll; on the other the ball of fire, igniting the court with his barely controlled rage. It's there between points, too: Federer like Arthur Ashe meditating, before padding back on to court; then look at Nadal's knee jigging up and down with nervous energy while he glances balefully around him, before running back on with let's-get-this-over-with urgency.

In the commentary box, John Lloyd and Chris Bailey were blown away. "It just keeps getting better! Ridiculous!" Lloyd bellowed in the third set. And in the fourth, there was Bailey going bonkers after an astonishing passing shot from Nadal: "Get out! Get out of here! Incredible!"

The BBC do their best to make us reviewers work – it's difficult to tell Lloyd and Bailey apart, both in terms of their voices, the faint Aussie twang to their accents (where does that come from?) and what they say. It really needed a loose cannon like John McEnroe or Jimmy Connors in the mix. They were presumably working for American TV, but couldn't Pat Cash have been pilfered from Radio 5 Live to add a bit of edge?

As the match was drawing to a conclusion that was inevitably, given Federer's fifth-set decline, a bit of an anti-climax, it was back to the boxing metaphors. Federer double-faulted in the final game: "he's taken one too many punches," said Lloyd (or was it Bailey?). And at the end, it was "a privilege to watch Federer and Nadal go toe-to-toe for more than four hours – they slugged it out here," said Bailey (or was it Lloyd?).

Then we cut straight to Inverdale and Andrew Castle in the studio at home to plug next month's Davis Cup tie – now that's truly anti-climactic.

On Saturday it was easy to tell Bailey apart from his co-commentator, his co-commentator being Sam Smith, who gave a distinctly female perspective. "She did say that if she won tonight she'd reward herself with a rather large chocolate cake," she observed of Serena Williams, as she steamrollered her way to victory. "It does keep us girls motivated."

And while we're on the distaff side of things, why didn't we see anything of Laura Robson on the Beeb? After Andy Murray's exit the Corporation seemed to lose interest until Federer and Nadal hove into sight. Still, I suppose her time will come.

Fans rescued from ITV's lack of know-how

Given the way ITV have been handling the FA Cup, the nation must have breathed a sigh of relief last week when the BBC retained the rights to the Premier League highlights for another few years. Lineker and Co have their faults (step forward a fence-creosoting expert), but they're still preferable to the insight-free ITV.

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power