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Jonathan Overend's Wimbledon diary

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Jonathan Overend | 19:22 UK time, Thursday, 1 July 2010

I thought I would guide you through my day at Wimbledon to give you a quick insight into life as a tennis commentator at a major tournament.

Some people assume I walk into Wimbledon, pick up the microphone, talk for a bit and then go home. As you will read, there is more to the job than that.

I am staying at a friend's house in Wimbledon which is absolutely perfect, especially when the 5 Live Breakfast programme comes calling.

Today I was needed on the air at 8.10am, so my alarm went at 7am and after listening to the sports bulletins on Radio 4 and 5 Live, I was out of the door at 7.45.

My walk through Wimbledon Park, where the spectators camp overnight to join the queue, took me past five tents already pitched by people wanting Andy Murray tickets on Friday.

Two overnights in a tent! Great dedication, and it's the same every year.

I walked through the gates at just before 8am, with the usual scanning of the badge and bag check from the security guards, and was in the office a few minutes later.

Our base at Wimbledon is underground in the Broadcast Centre, and some of our production staff are stuck there throughout the fortnight, but thankfully I spend most of my time on-court in commentary boxes.

Producer Chessie Bent was already hard at work when I arrived so I slipped into one of the studios to dial into the Breakfast Programme.

Tennis fans on Henman Hill at WimbledonFans will be out in force again on Henman Hill for Murray v Nadal. Photo: Getty Images

Moments later I was live on-air, chatting to presenter Shelagh Fogarty about Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal and all things tennis.

Editor Steve Rudge appeared shortly afterwards and we had a brief chat to go over the previous day's output and make some plans for the day ahead.

Then it was off to a meeting with the ATP, the governing body of the men's tour, because chief executive Adam Helfant is in town.

He's keen to develop relationships with the key tennis journalists, hence the proliferation of (excellent) morning pastries, and our link with the ATP is vital in terms of covering sport all year round.

From there, it was straight to yet another meeting - this time the AGM of the Lawn Tennis Writers' Association. We have a membership of about 50 tennis journalists and we work together for better working conditions and on other such issues.

When that wound up it was straight to the roof garden to join Richard Bacon for the start of 5 Live's Wimbledon coverage at midday.

Our guests before the women's semi-finals included Maggie Maleeva, Lindsay Davenport, Pat Cash and cricketers Graeme Swann and Jimmy Anderson. It's quite fun seeing all these personalities come and go, I just sit there and speak when I'm spoken to.

At 12.30pm it was time to head to the box on Centre Court to prepare for commentary.

We "split sets" on semi-final day (we have six commentators and it's only fair to share the matches around) meaning that Russell Fuller started the Pironkova v Zvonareva match with me coming in for set two.

I was working with Annabel Croft and Judy Murray - two of my favourite summarisers - and it was a decent set as Zvonereva launched the comeback which eventually took her into her first major final.

Once the match ended - and this was the most surprising bit of the day - I was told I could go home.

Normally, my day ends somewhere between 9pm and 10pm, and on one day in the first week, I finally checked out of the building at gone midnight. There are late reports to be filed, interviews to be done, blogs to be written.

Thankfully, on Thursday I could get on the train, where I'm now writing these words, and see my family for the first time in a while before preparing for a big day on Friday - a British player in the men's semi-finals at Wimbledon for the second year in a row.

I'll be back on air at 7.35am, and I can't wait.

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Key figures in British tennis have tried to get hold of the LTA's 'High Performance Mission 2012' document, leaked to BBC Sport last month, but to no avail.

The governing body insists the target-related document is still in draft form. So, for the benefit of those who would like to be closer in the loop, "operational objectives" include:
"No compromise approach", "inter-disciplinary planning" and "functional player support".

Presumably someone somewhere knows what that means.

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The climax to the men's tennis season will once again be held at London's 02 Arena this November with organisers promising a few tweaks.

The evening singles matches at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals will be brought forward by 45 minutes to ensure a slightly earlier finish for spectators. But the singles final, on Sunday 28 November, will move back to 5.30pm to avoid a clash with the afternoon football.

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Liezel Huber, the brilliant American doubles player, explained why specialists often win the day over teams of singles players during an entertaining appearance on 5 Live.

"I welcome singles players into doubles because we can beat them", she said. "What we tend to do is just hit the ball at the player at the net." Simple but effective.

Liezel is supporting the charity 'Locks of Love' which attempts to make wigs for underprivileged children with medical conditions involving hair loss.

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Spotted at Wimbledon; a high-powered gathering of British tennis stalwarts locked in conversation outside the press room. Going by recent comments in the press, it's hard to know who out of David Lloyd, Mark Petchey and David Felgate is most aggrieved at the current running of the game in Britain...

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Going by recent comments in the press, it's hard to know who out of David Lloyd, Mark Petchey and David Felgate is most aggrieved at the current running of the game in Britain...
    ____________

    Why don't the launch a coup?

  • Comment number 2.

    Well, I guess you're in a good position to nip the doomsday writers in the bud by looking dispassionately at just how close Murray came to toppling Nadal yesterday.

    It could easily be 2-1 to Murray, not 3-0 Nadal. A few key points, the odd missed 1st bullet, a net cord. It wasn't to be.

    Murray should take heart by comparing this match with the one in 2008. He was slaughtered that day. He competed on equal terms yesterday.

    It's clear that he has been working on hitting more blazing winners and, although it's not yet perfectly honed, the benefits of the work are already there for all to see. He should keep going down that strategy up to the US Open.

    That performance was up there with his Australian Open final one. Not to put too fine a point on it, two great champions playing absolutely at the top of their form beat him in 3 close sets.

    He keeps getting better and if that can continue he can still get across the finish line.

  • Comment number 3.

    I have to say, they really need to rethink the scheduling here.

    Serena gallumphing about court is not suitable lunchtime viewing...

  • Comment number 4.

    Murray serving for set point in the second set, puts in a 84 mph second serve in the middle of the box for Nadal to hit it hard back and then dictate the play. The forehand and backhand landed short consistently with no weight of shot. This was food and drink for Nadal. Murray had chances but his game is not about taking the initiative and venturing forward to the mid court and net area. Interval Running, 400 metres and those infantile forfeits he plays with his team will not get him a major. Nadal has improved his game, Murray strategy is still the same, passive. The clock is ticking, professional tennis is a very short life.

 

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