Friday, January 23, 2009

What I Did On My Holidays

Well, I'm now returned from my travels in the land of tennis, and I miss it already. I would have given just about anything to get arena seats for tonight, but no cigar, so I changed my flight to this afternoon instead of some ridiculous hour tomorrow morning so I could watch it on TV - and also get some sleep!
Therefore, I only got in a couple of hours at the tennis today... I got there early and watched Ferrer hit up - until Djokovic turned up to hit with him, at which point I left. I mosied around, took some atmospheric photos, then went and snagged a good seat in Margaret Court Arena, where I watched the Petrova/Voskoboeva match - which was one (one-sided) set, lasting until Voskoboeva retired. I wasn't that disappointed, because the next match up was Cilic/Ferrer, and that meant I got to see more of it. I got to see the first set, as it happens - and man, was I impressed with Cilic's form! He's got game, that boy!
Then I had to leave to get my plane, which was a good thing, as it happens, because I missed getting caught up in that riot (not by that long - it kind of sends shivers down my spine about how close it could have been.) As far as I know, Australia is the only country in which there have been racial riots at the tennis - we had the infamous pepper spray incident of last year, and now this chair-throwing one. For me - even though I will freely admit to cheering my lungs out for Dokic and Tomic this week - tennis is a global sport, that transcends nationality in many ways... it just makes me so sad that these things happen, and they happen here.
But the fact that people come out and support their countries, loudly and vocally and sometimes with chairs, is just one thing I have learned by going to the tennis. Sitting next to some screaming Serbians yelling out, 'OOO-OOO, AAH-AAH, SRBIJA, SRBIJA!' is just part and parcel of the tennis experience. People scream, people yell, and sometimes people don't shut up. I've always thought of tennis as a sport with a real etiquette - there are very specific times when you have to shut up - and though there was large amounts of respect for that, the loudness of the fans is incongruous sometimes. It's not bad - it's just not what I was expecting.
Another thing I learned at the tennis is that if you're going to be serious about it and get the five day ground pass and the arena night tickets, you have to be prepared to sacrifice some sleep - and you also have to be really, really fit if you're going to do it in the Melbourne heat! Because there is no shade (pretty much) at Melbourne Park, and to keep going day after day in 35+ degree heat takes some fitness. Luckily, I have some of that, but nothing can take away the heat and the amount you sweat. But it's all worth it, if you can elbow your way to the front of a Federer practice. It's worth sacrificing any amount of sleep to see the matches that I have seen this week. At night, I saw Dellacqua, Federer, Stosur, Nadal, Dokic, Tomic, Murray and that epic Venus/Suarez Navarro upset. I wouldn't change that for anything. You can bet your bottom dollar I'll be back again next year. I wish I was there now. It must have been amazing to see Dokic pull out that incredible win, and then be treated to a masterclass by the Federer Express.
Let's talk about those matches, because they were both great in their way. How about Jelena Dokic? There are just not words to describe what a phenomenal comeback this has been. No one seriously considered her a shot to beat Caroline Wozniacki (whom, by the way, the Aussie Open official program speculates is dating Rafa Nadal - first I've heard of that! I bet Xisca's not happy!) and when she lost the first set, I don;t think anyone would have picked it at all. Wozniacki is the eleventh seed - and then Dokic stepped it up and pulled it out. It was triumphant. It was incredible. And it really warmed the cockles of my heart to see how proud her coach and her boyfriend (who are, I believe, brothers) are of her. It's so lovely to see her with a healthy, functional support team - and it can only get better. She offered an apology to Tennis Australia for her past behaviour in her post-match speech, and if there was anything left to forgive, I think it's forgiven now.
And Jelena is no Casey Dellacqua, who, although she's not a bad player, kind of got to the fourth round on adrenaline and flukish form. Jelena has serious, long-proven skill. There was never any way Casey was going to beat Jankovic last year. Dokic could have beaten her prospective opponent, Ivanovic, in my opinion - but now that Ivanovic is gone (another major upset alert!) her chances of progressing might be even greater. She plays Alisa Kleybanova, the big-hitting Russian. She has nothing to lose. Who says Jelena can't go well, go deeper?
And then the Federer match. I am very sad Safin is out - he played some lovely tennis, and didn't deserve to be booted so easily - but to see Federer in full flight, winning his third round match with ease, never once facing a break point... after the third round near-fiasco of last year against Tipsarevic, I couldn't ask for more. Except for Marat to be in the other half of the draw, where I could happily cheer for him against anyone.
Today's Results
Australian Open
Men's Draw
Roger Federer def. Marat Safin, 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7-5)
Novak Djokovic def. Amer Delic, 6-2 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4)
Marin Cilic def. David Ferrer, 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-4
Andy Roddick def. Fabrice Santoro, 6-3 6-4 6-2
Juan Martin del Potro def. Gilles Muller, 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 6-3 7-5
Tomas Berdych def. Stanislas Wawrinka, 4-6 6-1 6-3 6-4
Tommy Robredo def. Yen-Hsun Lu, 6-1 6-3 6-2
Marcos Baghdatis def. Mardy Fish, 6-2 6-4 6-4
Women's Draw
Jelena Jankovic def. Ai Sugiyama, 6-4 6-4
Dinara Safina def. Kaia Kanepi, 6-2 6-2
Alisa Kleybanova def. Ana Ivanovic, 7-5 6-7 (5-7) 6-2
Vera Zvonareva def. Sara Errani, 6-4 6-1
Nadia Petrova def. Galina Voskoboeva, 6-1 retired
Jelena Dokic def. Caroline Wozniacki, 3-6 6-1 6-2
Alizé Cornet def. Daniela Hantuchova, 4-6 6-4 6-2
Marion Bartoli def. Lucie Safarova, 3-6 6-2 6-1


John said...

Happy to know about your trip to Melbourne.

As a fan, I would take this win and very much happy to see him into last 16. He showed that fighter in him to overcome 22 aces from Muller.

But that won't be enough as the tournament reaches further. He has to avoid all those silly mistake. He must solid in his game plan.

He has to do more if he is going to be the likes of Nadal, Fedex, Novak and Murray.

Nevertheless, I won't count him out for anything as everyone should that Delpo on his best, can surprise the rest. I'm hoping for another good run from him against Cilic.

What do you think about his match up against the up coming Cilic?

yogahz said...

Thanks for blogging your AO experience.

James Li said...

Did you get Jessica Moore's autograph as I requested in 2 posts earlier?