MB’s Games: Time to change the tune on Olympic tennis

I don't think my opinion has been particularly hidden on tennis at the Olympics. A brilliant sport of course, but I'm far from the only one who isn't a fan of competitions where the Olympics barely register in the schedule.

Football – certainly the men's game – will never get there. But given the two hours free in my schedule on Friday morning, it seemed remiss not to find out whether the same could be said of events at Wimbledon.

Quite possibly, I got my answer on opening ceremony day at Roger Federer's pre-competition press conference. A giant auditorium, packed for one of sport's superstars. He doesn't have an Olympic gold in the singles. He clearly wanted one.

So the Olympics as tennis' pinnacle? Maybe not. But important – most definitely.

For starters, the purple London 2012 hoardings fitted in perfectly with Wimbledon's green colour scheme – I know for a fact that matters to some at SW19.


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But what watching the action at Wimbledon on television doesn't do justice to is the intimacy of the court – especially on centre.

On Friday it was Federer's semi-final with Juan Martin del Potro I managed to squeeze in. Where the silences that started every point were shattered by the cheers, gasps, groans and whispers a few seconds later.

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Complete extremes, with the only ones unable to appreciate it being the babies in the crowd and their impeccable talent for small tantrums at big points.

There were empty seats – and when we all think back to sitting at our computers a few months ago trying to buy anything we could get through to, it remains the most infuriating sight at these games.

Now I'll admit I was at the tennis to take it in rather than cover every spit and whistle, but at least I kept my cool. An Irish journalist wasn't so objective, greeting Roger's entry with outstretched arms and screaming as if he'd just beating Usain Bolt in Sunday's 100m final.

Federer's first point was met by his hyperactive applause. Federer's faltering by inconsolable head in hands – and no, I didn't see him write a word.

As I said at the start, I had two spare hours. So needless to say, I was the only one walking out with things tied at a set apiece.

Therefore I can only imagine the fit my Irish friend had when Federer eventually broke the Argentine down more than four hours after they started.

It was funny, given the last note I had when I left was that no one on centre court wanted the match to end. They almost got their wish.

And when you watch something like that, it's hard to really protest against its Olympic participation.

I'm sure Roger Federer and his new mate agree too.

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