Condensing the action works better for some sports than others, but it feels crucial as viewing options keep expanding
Apparently, the US Open men’s final on Sunday night was incredible. I wouldn’t know; I only saw the highlights. Which, as everyone knows, is by far the least satisfying way of watching a tennis match: inferior in many ways to watching nothing. For some reason tennis has always been strangely resistant to the highlights treatment: a game of infinite pivots and infinite crises, where every apparent turning point merely heralds the next, where its most epic passages feel like the world is ending again and again and again. Abridging all this feels somehow wrong, faithless: like trying to sum up Like a Rolling Stone in a pie chart.
Even so, there’s something uniquely maddening to the crude and cloven-hooved indelicacy of Amazon’s highlights packages: a sensation roughly comparable to being told an anecdote by someone who keeps forgetting the key details. Breaks of serve go unseen. Set points lurch at you from nowhere. The gruelling, juddering fifth set between Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev was dispensed with almost as an afterthought: Thiem’s first two match points not shown, the third appearing out of thin air.
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