Matt Butler: On Mats point, it's thumbs up for Wilander and Co
View From The Sofa: Australian Open final, Eurosport
Everything seemed the same on Eurosport as on the BBC. The blue court, the Butthead-on-better-food expressions from Andy Murray and the Action-Man-but-more-intense glances from Novak Djokovic. Why would anybody have chosen to watch the Australian Open final on anything other than Auntie?
Because there were a few small differences. For a start, we in Eurosport-land didn't get nearly as many shots of Murray noshing bananas, because they switched to adverts for phones and cars in the game breaks. It was like being on holiday, firstly because the final was on at breakfast time, but also because of the aspirational ads – and trailers, for that matter: skiing anyone? – during the breaks.
People here usually don't like their sport interrupted by shiny people trying to flog us stuff. That sort of carry-on is best left to Americans and their stop-start sports that are tailor-made for 30-second bursts of salesmanship.
But when it comes to tennis, all we tend to see during game breaks is sweaty players gulping "pathetic fruit" as Murray calls bananas, isotonics or – if we are really lucky – changing their shirt.
Except yesterday, when there was a crucial piece of action at the end of the third set, after Djokovic had broken Murray in the penultimate game, that we completely missed out on.
In the break between the third and fourth set, according to those watching the Beeb (thanks for the phone call, Clyde), Murray let rip at the umpire. He remonstrated to the extent that the crowd started booing him. A tennis crowd, booing? Only in Australia.
Except that on Eurosport we had to make do with an advert about a Kia and a notice of some alpine competition later in the day. When it came back to the action the only inkling we got of any ruckus was the commentator Chris Bradnam intoning: "Oooh, Murray was really unhappy during that sit-down."
Of course, as we saw, Murray fell to pieces in the fourth, partly hampered by his blisters and an awry hamstring.
The major difference between the BBC's coverage and Eurosport's was the personnel. Frew McMillan and Mats Wilander shared co-commentating duties with Bradnam and the pair were brilliant. Wilander has already made himself a star during the tournament with his "Game Set and Mats" slots after the action has finished in Melbourne. And he didn't pull any punches in his insights during the first three sets of the final.
McMillan, himself a five-time Grand Slam doubles champion, on the other hand, sounded like a voice from another era – in a good way. His commentary was measured, sharp and not a word was wasted. An example was when Djokovic was squealing and skipping with delight at his win, McMillan just broke his silence with: "You never rule him out."
And, thank the almighty, we didn't get Andrew Castle. He had invaded Eurosport in the earlier rounds, but he had been summoned back to the BBC box for the final. And boy, was he not missed.
For all his bleeding obvious and far too chummy tennis commentary, ambulance-chasing legal advice adverts and previous GMTV smarming, there is one incident that sums up the "allure" of Castle. On the choices of the viewer, he once said: "They do have the power with their remotes, you know? Thumbs: powerful things."
You're right, Andrew, you're so right. I used mine to turn to Eurosport.
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