Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jodi's Epic Tennis Adventure 2.6 - Return of the Queen

I really do love the Australian Open. And Melbourne. And tennis.

That is all.

It was a traditional Australian Open summer day, warm and sunny. I am unsure whether I will ever scrape the layers of sunscreen off, but the tennis was worth it. And, in addition, one of my favourite Australian singers was performing - the incomparable Kate Miller-Heidke - and I got to sit and watch her with Dootsiez of All I Need Is A Picket Fence fame. Fun times.

I opened the day with a leisurely Nadal practice session and then spent most of the rest of it wandering the grounds, catching bits and pieces of various matches. I saw a bit of Yaroslava Shvedova's victory over Kimiko Date Krumm - boy, I do like both these players! And I spent a significant amount of time on Court 18, watching Nadia Petrova and Kaia Kanepi and then Andrey Golubev and Ivan Ljubicic.

The most notable thing about the Petrova match was the penultimate game, Petrova serving - this was the longest game I can ever remember, in any match, ever. Seriously, it had at least fifteen deuces, and Kanepi had at least ten break points. I am not exaggerating. The game itself went for about twenty five minutes. Petrova finally held and then broke Kanepi for the match. I was on Team Nadia, but I felt a bit sorry for Kanepi after that.

My latest love affair, Andrey Golubev, lost to Ivan Ljubicic, but it was a noble defeat. It was four sets and he showed a lot of the flair that has earned him a special place in my tennis esteem. I am sad I'm denied a third round showdown with Nadal, because I reckon that could have been awesome, but there is no shame in going down to Ljubicic. That Ivan/Rafa match should be a good one, actually - if Ivan can take down wheeler-dealer Golubev, he'll be a good test for the Raging Bull.

But as usual, it is all about the night session... which is still going on. Yes, I left early. It is one thirty in the morning. So sue me. Cilic and Tomic are locked at two sets all in a really fascinating match - even if Tomic doesn't win, he will take a lot of positives away from this match. He plays frankly weird tennis - I rememebr Courier saying of Tomic's first round win over Guillaume Rufin that he 'softshoed him off the court'. He doesn't hit the ball hard from the back of the court at all, though he can certainly accelerate through it when he wants. He gives the opponent a lot of different looks... he's got vague similarities to Andy Murray, though he's obviously not as good yet. When he gets some legs... Tomic is going to be something.

If only he could solve his Bad Dad problems.

But why am I rabbiting on about Tomic?

Today was all about Justine.

I saw that Henin/Clijsters match in Brisbane. This one wasn't as good, but it wasn't far off. Justine... wow. Look out.

She had some service yips, especially at the beginning - a lot of doubles thrown in there. That, combined with the excellence of Demetieva's returning, gave me some pause. But given as Elena's serving wasn't so great either, meant it all worked out okay. And that backhand... OH THE BACKHAND.

Let us spare a thought for Lena D. This was a tough, tough draw for her. And she didn't play badly - not at all. You don't play two sets that go for almost three hours together if you're not fighting, if it's not tight tight tight. But let us face facts. Lena is good. She's very good. Even if she's never won a Slam, she is a good, good player.

But Justine, even after spending two years sitting on a couch eating chocolate, is great.

And so it is onwards and upwards for the pocket rocket Belgian delight, and it is another entry into the Grand Slam annals of woulda shoulda coulda for Elena Dementieva. The tennis gods have not smiled on her, just as they never seem to smile on her at Slams. To see Justine lurking in your draw... wow.

Justine is back. She came OH SO CLOSE with Kim, and now she's pulled it off with Lena. Watch out, ladies. Queen Justine is back.

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