Worsley at the Aussie Open: Courtside questions make for uncomfortable moments

MCing is never as easy as you think it should be, especially when live TV is involved.

Then there's the crowd at the venue and the athletes you interview as well, let alone pronouncing a difficult name, and plenty of facts and figures.

The 2019 Australian Open has seen been the great, the good and the 'ouch', as four main MCs have been used on Rod Laver Arena.

Sam Smith, the former British player, is incredibly well researched. In fact, it's great to watch her write notes and prepare herself.

Her questions to players after a win are simple, yet sympathetic and knowledgeable, and it’s not about her - it's about the players and their performances.

Jim Courier has respect as a former two-time winner of the tournament. He is similar to Smith and checks some of his questions, with a good amount of research.

His only issue is that sometimes his on-court questioning can go a little too long, but that’s a minor point.

MC of most ceremonies, Brett Phillips, is relatively new to the task of ushering presentations and players onto the court at the Australian Open. He's in his second year in the role, which formerly belonged to the legendary Craig Willis.

There was a slight glitch, when Serena Williams was described as the world number one when she walked out against Simona Halep, but that was apparently a mix-up with the wrong player walking out first.

The rest of the time, Phillips has done a very professional job.

One minor issue with the on-court MCing has been John McEnroe, beloved by so many, but his questions to winning players have you wondering, did he even watch the match?

Does he even know that the player went to five sets the previous match or that they're recovering from injury? In fact, has he made any notes at all or researched anything?

The sad answer is no. McEnroe is winging it, because he’s McEnroe and always wings it.

Unfortunately, this doesn't wash, when you're getting too many things wrong - and then there was the cringeworthy and unfunny 'I've seen Nadal naked' episode.

Also, McEnroe using jargon when talking to a player like Nadal is difficult. English isn't Nadal's first language and he is very earnest with his answers, so don't make it about you.

You don't play for the big titles any more.

A good ground announcer or MC can make a sporting event, and the Aussie Open has got it almost right.

Keep it tight and keep it professional. It's the players turn to shine and there's plenty of that in 2019.

Dave Worsley is a Newshub sports reporter, covering his 21st Australian Open.

 

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