Monday, January 18, 2010

Jodi's Epic Tennis Adventure 2.4 - Rain, Rain, Go Away

There are few things more miserable and frustrating than being on a grounds pass on a rainy day at a tennis tournament - particularly when you've packed for blistering heat. Today was a soggy start to the Australian Open, and I was right there in the middle of it, getting soaked. Both Hisense and Rod Laver arenas had their lids on... but outside, there was nowhere to go. Suffice to say that I am pretty sure I am wet through to the bone and would not be surprised if I started developing mildew.

This said, a lot of tennis still happened and it was all very exciting - the upset of the day being the epic takedown of MaSha by MariKiri. I saw bits and pieces of this match on the big screen (read - hiding under the nearest umbrella) and I think it really was a mercy killing by MariKiri. Sharapova's dress looked like a peacock had spewed all over it. No one needs that kind of fashion disaster in their life.

I'm sure the organisers had their hearts in their throats after that match went for, like, several centuries... having flashbacks to the night they finished at 4am! But no, everything else on Rod Laver Arena was very straightforward - straight sets, in fact. Clijsters polished off Random Canadian Whose Name I Can't Remember, Murray completely humiliated Kevin Anderson and, in the night session (f0r which I was inside) Rafa Nadal scored a straight sets win over a competitive Peter Luczak and Jelena Dokic fell to Alisa Kleybanova.

Let's talk night sesh, actually, given as I was, you know, inside for it. First off, men's match first = BEST IDEA EVER. I loved it. The scoreline of the first match might look like it was all Rafa, but I think Luczak has a lot to be proud of in this match. He really troubled Rafa, particularly in the first set, and he returned like a demon. He didn't let Rafa pin him in the corner (to paraphrase Roger, he didn't let him 'go to my backhand, and then with the forehand, forehand, forehand, and when I'm all the way back here, he goes down the line'.) His game matches up relatively well with Rafa's, I think... it's just that Rafa's - well, he's Rafa.

I've always nursed some Rafa love, but after the Hit For Haiti - 'you serve this one - I have no confidence!' - I'm having a Rafa renaissance. And he took his shirt off a lot. Rafa Nadal: break me off a piece of that.

On that subject, Jelena Dokic totally picked the wrong Bikic brother. The coach, Borna? Smokin' like a steam train. That's all I'm saying.

Dokic herself seemed to be a little out of spirits tonight - she had pretty negative looking body language right from the start of the match and Kleybanova came out all guns blazing. There was a glimpse of the Dokic from last year towards the end of the second set, and she hit some sweet winners, but I can't help feeling her heart wasn't in it. Oh well. Next year, Jelena.

I did actually catch some tennis round the grounds during the day as well, in the four seconds it wasn't raining. Watch out for Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova - I saw a fair bit of her match against Sevastova, and she was looking awesome. Big kudos also to Ivo Karlovic, for toughing out an epic against Radek Stepanek, and to Yanina Wickmayer, for doing the same over Alexandra Dulgheru. Bernard Tomic also had a good win, though sixteen year old Jason Kubler lost - but it was his first ATP match ever, so whatevs. And my favourite around-the-grounds result today - a match so fun to watch that I stood there for a set, transfixed? Andrey Golubev over Mardy Fish in four.

This is a big win for Golubev, who is rising up through my 'favourite players' list like a rocket. He's in Rafa's little section of the draw - I think they could potentially meet third round - and given the insane goodness of Andrey right now, Rafa could be in for a fight. Just as he was in Perth, Golubev was ripping winners like a crazy person. He started slow after the first rain delay, leading to him losing the second set, but when he found his range... bam. BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM. Watch this guy. He has 'I will upset big name players' written all over him.

But the grounds pass is really all about the practice courts. Everyone knows this. And who somehow managed to book the 1 o'clock slot, the one slot where it miraculously did not rain a drop? Why, that would be Roger Federer. And who had an excellent spot, right up against the rail on the baseline? Why, that would be me.

Soderling was due to practice after Federer, and as Roger was finishing up, I could see the Yoker warming up behind the fence - his little Soderhead bobbing up and down as he ran. He has a weird, weird warmup. There was skipping. That's all I'm saying. And then the second he stepped on court... bam. Heavens opened. No practice for Robin.

Just for Batman. (Sorry, I had to).

More from the hopefully less wet Aussie Open tomorrow!

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