Originally Posted by DrJules
That could ruin the final if Federer in the first match beats a nobody in 3 sets e.g. Davydenko then Nadal plays a 5 set match against Roddick. Should they not give the match more likely to be longer the first slot?
I don't know if there's any fair way to schedule it. It's a problem mostly because of the back to back semis and finals (because of tv, of course). I don't think the US players should get preferential treatment, but the system has usually worked against them in this respect. It used to be even worse when the women's final was sandwiched between the men's semis, and there was even less recovery time for the 2nd semi winner.
Over the past 25 years, CBS has practically always scheduled the match that they perceive as more ratings attractive 2nd. The exceptions would be last year, and it also looks like Agassi may have requested the early match in 2003. I think I remember them mentioning that back then, but not sure. He played Ferrero first and the Roddick-Nalby match followed. Not a big drop off there since they had the rising American star in the 2nd match.
Here's a sampling since 1980 with the perceived less attractive ratings semi listed (and played) first:
As you can see, it's typically been the American player that gets stuck in the 2nd slot.