Well, it is the final day of my epic tennis adventure... something which I would like to forget, because I have loved every second of it. If only I could be a professional tennis writer instead of a public servant. I would give anything for that to be a reality. So if any professional tennis writers need an apprentice... call me.
I write this from my hotel room, watching Rafa Nadal take out a ballboy on TV in his not-so-secret desire to be a soccer player. I tried to get tickets to this match but, alas, failed... oh well. I have seen both Rafa and Kohli live before and I suppose it is someone else's turn now! Though on this match - this is sort of live-blogging, I guess - Philipp Kohlschreiber would be awesome if he could only convert break points. And Rafa needs to stop doing those Gael Monfils splits. I've never seen him do them before this tournament - noticed it when I saw him play Luczak on Monday - and it seriously cannot be good for him. I mean, he must know how often Gael gets injured. And it's not like his legs have been stunningly healthy of late either.
But enough of what I am watching on TV (that way I can pretend that Clijsters' loss to Petrova NEVER HAPPENED). More on what I did today.
I opened the day watching Caroline Wozniacki practice for a bit, before settling in with some lunch and a glass of wine to catch a bit of Safina on the big screen - who, despite playing on the big arenas, is flying totally under the radar, and I think it is doing her the world of good. Sure, she hasn't faced any major tests yet... but remember the US Open. She got taken all the way by Olivia Rogowska and then lost to Petra Kvitova. She's into the round of sixteen without dropping a set, and that is very respectable. I still wouldn't pick her to win the tournament or anything, but I don't think she's going to embarass herself. Which is new and exciting for her, much as I hate to admit it.
I saw some of her practice yesterday, and she and Zeljko are as in each others' faces as they ever have been. There was a shaking of the racquet under Zeljko's nose and a whole lot of shouting. It is relationships like these that make it clear to me just how badly tennis needs a Gossip Girl style blog. 'Spotted: D and Z, passion on court, passion off court'.
Yes, I have this pet theory that Dinara and Zeljko are having an affair. Yes, I am very aware I am miles off base.
And tennis totally needs an insider to start this blog IMMEDIATELY. A player would be ideal, but a coach, a physio... actually, you know who would be great? A masseuse. They must hear about the woes of all the players. 'Rumour has it that Marcos is Karolina's new Sprem'. 'Is MariKiri angling for a proposal from Bigor?'
This needs to happen. If only someone would pay for me to travel on the tour around the world, I'd be completely happy to do it myself...
But back to tales of What I Did Today. After catching some Dinara and then some Justine, I headed off to Court 16 for Roger's 1pm practice sesh. I am now the owner of not one but two signed caps, one RF cap, one RG cap. RG was courtesy of Tuesday, RF today, and yes, in case you're wondering, Roger is very pretty close up. ('Spotted: swooning fans at Roger practice session, Mirka somehow completely unthreatened'... okay, maybe that's not newsworthy.)
After I had finished hyperventilating, I headed to Margaret Court Arena for a couple of afternoon matches. I caught the last set and a half of Wickmayer/Errani, and despite it being a WTA match and thus error-strewn, it was very entertaining. Both these players are aggressive wheeler-dealers, and that is always good to watch. There were some absolutely exquisite winners from both ladies, and I enjoyed it a lot. Wickmayer won in the end - she'll face Justine Henin in the next round - and she is looking very good. This will be a very interesting battle of the Belgians, mark my words.
After this match, I sat through all four sets of Isner/Monfils. I confess, I kind of understand what the big deal is about Monfils and why people like him, but he leaves me cold. Maybe it's because his coach, Roger Rasheed, is such an enormous douchecanoe. Maybe it's because he's always injured and I forget about him a lot. But I am just not in Camp Gael.
And then John Isner played at Hopman Cup, and that generally endears me to players a lot. As I discussed with Dootsiez afterwards, big servers usually = totally boring, but Isner has some real game to match his serve, especially in the volley area. This was a totally great match... albeit bittersweet, because it was the last match of my Australian Open adventure.
Every year my tennis tour gets longer and longer. I took in four major cities this year - Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Will I do it all again next year? You bet your bottom dollar. Will it be even bigger and better? YES YES YES... if I can afford it!
3 weeks ago