Saturday, January 9, 2010

Jodi's Epic Tennis Adventure 1.3 - Back to the Future

Little Laura Robson is a revelation. Well, I say little - she's probably got a good half a foot on me, if not more. But she is just fifteen, and I find that unbelievable. Instead of whinging about high school, gazing at posters of boys and singing that annoying Taylor Swift song about being fifteen, she is travelling around the world playing tennis.

And she is damn good.

I was lucky enough to be there to see her play Elena Dementieva on Friday at the Hopman Cup after a lovely second night in Perth, and although the second set was a bit of a Dementieva 'no, this is how you hit groundies' clinic, in the first set, Robson seriously troubled her. She managed to break her twice - Dementieva doesn't have the bestest serve ever or anything, but she's #5 in the world, and Robson is fifteen. Fif-frigging-teen.

And then yesterday she beat Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, a match which I didn't see, but which I wish I had. She is going to be epically awesome in a few years. Just you wait.

But back to my day there. I was on the other side of the court this time (non-umpire side) in the lower deck and I had a great view. It was really interesting to analyse the way the Dementieva and Robson games matched up, because Robson is going to grow into a similar player, I think. They're both heavy groundstrokers - Elena has the experience that comes with age and practice and stuff, but Laura (fifteen! fifteen!) definitely held her own. Where I really noticed the difference is where their shots landed in the box. Dementieva hits very deep, and although Robson was clearly trying, some of her shots were more in the service line area, particularly if she was on the defensive. But she has time to work on this. On account of she is fifteen.

Murray was totally clinical in his dismantling of Igor Andreev and it was excellent to watch, even though Andreev is clearly not in form and not looking at all threatening for the Australian Open. (Meanwhile, Muzz, losing to Robredo? WTF?) But the real match of the day was the mixed doubles. I wish there was more of this played, because it is SUCH a good spectator sport. Murray was quite paternalistic towards Robson at the beginning, trying to do everything himself, but she soon proved she was quite capable and he let her alone, to his credit. Robson held her own in forehand rallies with Andreev admirably, and Dementieva's hands at the net were great, and... yeah, this was a really good match.

That said, I kind of wish the Brits had lost, because I would have loved to have seen the scheduled Kazakhstan/Germany match, mostly because of my newfound love for Andrey Golubev. And also because it would have delayed my trip to the airport, where I had to spend a very long time before my plane to Brisbane left. And let me tell you, Perth airport is not an especially interesting place.

All in all, I loved my time in Perth - even the time I spent sitting next to a guy who kept persisting in trying to explain things like let rules to me even though I had already said I was a tennis blogger and that I knew all the rules, thank you very much. (A classic mansplainer - spew.) It's sometimes hard to watch tennis when people around you are talking about tennis to each other, pretending they know what they talk about when they obviously don't.

But there is nothing like watching real live tennis. Nothing at all.

I don't know if I will go back to the Hopman Cup next year - Perth is a long, long way away from everywhere, and is pretty expensive. However, the year after, I am so there. I want to see it in the new stadium!

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