The Real GOAT: Happy Birthday, Andre

April 30, 2010

Andre Agassi turns 40 today, so let’s turn back the clock a little and talk about this man that I am now going to call Goat. Because I can. It’s my blog, after all.

Contrary to popular opinion, I am now going to convince you all that Andre was the real GOAT. Let me preface with a disclaimer that I am a disciple of the book Open, which I devoured in a single summer’s weekend leading up to this year’s Aussie Open. I thought it was a brilliant insight into the universe of tennis and, even more so, into the psyche of one of the greatest players this game has seen.

I’m saying this not simply in tribute to Agassi’s game, which despite its excellence is commonly taken apart by those critics who watch his defeats at the hands of Mr Sampras a few too many times. Sure, we can all admire his prowess with the racket – you can’t win a Golden Slam without it.

What Open did teach me, and thanks to Mr Agassi for the insight, is the importance of mental focus, the incredibly draining nature of professional tennis and sport in general, and the massive power of positive thinking, perseverance, and good old-fashioned American cockiness.

For those of you who haven’t read it, Open is a gripping account and lets you fully understand the brutal nature of the tour. Agassi’s tale of his unrelenting father who inculcated a hatred for the game from an early age due to the “dragon” machine spewing tennis balls in his homemade backyard tennis court; to his hero-worshipping adulation for his older brother; his typical teenage rebelliousness as overlooked by Nick Bollettierri; his messed up marriage with Brooke Shields and eventual fairytale romance with Stefanie Graf (not Steffi, kids – never again will she be Steffi!); his rise, fall, and comeback again; the slams, the Olympic gold medal; his work with the Andre Agassi Foundation; and of course – the famous rivalry with terrible tipper Petey. I loved every word and it’s made me see a man who was previously no more than a favourite tennis player and an admired athlete, into a fully dimensional character with loves and hates, weaknesses and strengths, who has prevailed against his worst enemy, one which most of us have a hard time getting over – his own mind. More importantly, he’s opened the window for me to understand a sport I love.

So I’m raising my glass to Andre on the big 40. Hope you have a nice cuddle with Stefanie and the kids, and a glass of champers or two.
And don’t listen to the haters.
You can head over to Aussie for Hit For Haiti v3 anytime.


Kenny, Carlos and some Aussie Chicks

April 28, 2010

For those of you who can’t get enough of Aussie awesome (why do I hear crickets?), Tennis Australia have put together a gorgeous montage of Fed Cup pics, with background audio from “Rodi” and Sammy’s interviews.

Carlos Ramos was there, yo.

Stubbsy also blogged her experience, letting us know that “Our Stasi”‘s nickname is not, actually, Stasi, but “Rodi”. There ya go. Access her blogs here:

Stubbsy’s Blog, Part I
Stubbsy’s Blog, Part II
Stubbsy’s Blog, Part III
Stubbsy’s Blog, Part IV

There are also videos of each of the girls pre-tie on http://tennis.com.au


C’MON!!!!!!

April 28, 2010

Haters, step away.

Blood is thicker than water, so much as we love Misha (see here to learn how the love blossomed), we had to go back to our old habits, barracking for the big brother, partner in crime, and, to be honest, one of the first reasons these girls started following tennis.

Despite losing a set to Mikhail and the universe’s supply of Davay, Lleyton showed us that he is back and capable of an upset, taking Youzhny out 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Sorry, Misha.

Although honestly Lleyton, clean up the gutter mouth. Do you really use that kind of language in front of Mia and Cruz? Bec’s gonna call a time out.

This just in: According to Hewitt family expert M, who has viewed the high quality cinematic piece “This Is Your Life: Lleyton Hewitt” once or twice, such a drama would never occur at home in Sydney – I mean, Bahamas. For further insight into Hewitt home life, you can ask our resident specialist M – her scenarios are a killer.

Writing this post has been therapeutic. It gave M the opportunity to revisit favourite home page lleytonhewitt.biz. Thanks for the memories, kids. We’re using you in our history of online tennis forums.  Sadly, the Lleyton wallpaper (physical wallpaper – this was in the olden days) is now gone, along with the stack of New Ideas mentioning Bec Cartwright. M has grown up and graduated high school.

But Lleyton? He’s still winning.

C’MON!!!!


Australia: Yes, we’re bloody good.

April 26, 2010

Guess who’s back in the World Group, bitches!

Across rain, snow and ash, the Aussies all made it to Kharkov and the battle begun.

today at the draw ceremony Australia vs Ukraine  on Twitpic

Our new favourite Aussie, Anastasia finished off Alona Bondarenko yesterday to give us the lead over the Ukrainians. Sammy then looked after a little girl who’s name I can’t pronounce, but I will paste from the news just for validation. There it is. Mariya Koryttseva

Then we had a bit of a scary sitch with Sammy finding it difficult in the 3rd rubber against another Ukrainian girl – ok fine, back to pasting the name – Lyudmyla Kichenok – where the first set went to TB before Sammy took her out.

That puts us back in the World Group first time since 04 – back in the heyday of Alicia doing her thing – and gives us hopefuls the knowledge the sky’s the limit!

Fed Cup is also a time where the umpire stalkers among us go all out for Ramos Watch and Molina Search, as our favourite ITF employed umpires are finally among the livestreams. Unfortunately, I am yet to set sight of Molina, but a sneakily posted twitpic by New Favourite Aussie Anastasia leads me to believe Ramos is among good people – the Aussies in Kharkov, and the kangaroo. Apparently, contrary to popular opinion, his name is not Skippy – it is Kenny. Who’d’ve known?


10 Reasons Why We Love Clay!

April 22, 2010

This week heralds a time when the colour of our screens change and life becomes happy and breezy again.

Here are a few reasons why we love it when the dirt of Europe takes over our lives and makes tennis full of joy, love and laughter.

10. Sliding is Sexy

9. The View’s not bad from here


It’s one thing to be a jet setter and travel all over the world on your yacht and private plane.

It’s another thing to be a tennis fan, where you can head over to the most gorgeous countries – and some pretty boring, grey ones as well – and get a glimpse of what they have to offer.

So far this year, we’ve been tempted to do things like play with lions in Joburg, swim with dolphins in Miami, and play golf in the desert (by far the most daring activity of all).

Clay season takes it up a notch. Is there anywhere you wouldn’t want to be?

The View from Monte Carlo is salivating:

Nice makes you want to take a spoonful, cover it in hot fudge and dig in.

And I love the ancient statues in Rome right up against the brick-red clay.

8. Longer Rallies make pretty watching

I love it when you settle in to watch that first clay match and just like the players have to readjust their game, we’re readjusting our watching eyes. The rallies are longer and for those of us who like to watch, it doesn’t get much better than that.

7. Rafa on Fire

There are reasons this sport was invented. This is one of them.

6. Time Difference makes ALL the Difference.

Australians all let us rejoce for we are young and free….

Free. That’s right. We’re so free that we’re on the other side of the world, a 24 hour planeride from most – except a handful of Southeast Asian countries, some islands for occasional holidays, and a random nation that copies our every move and then whinges about it.

We’re also desperately alone every morning as we venture into the day ahead, stealthily creeping into Monday, or Tuesday, or the 1st of January in the knowledge that we are going where no man has gone before. We take it on the chin for those of you on the other side of the dateline, because we’re hardened up Aussies and we like being adventurers. But sometimes, when you’re all still having a party up on Sunday and we’re stuck into Monday morning, it brings on the yuckness.

That’s where Clay season is made of joy, because come 6.30 in the PM, we can sit round the Teev with our dinners and our glass of wine and have a night made of fun right in front of us (or at least, after MasterChef. And for those of us without Fox Sports, in front of the Livestream). If you’re going until the late match, you only  need to keep your tired peepers up until the relatively earthly hour of 2 or 3 am and then off to beddy-byes you go. Thanks Europe.

5. Umpire Love

Any self respecting tennis nerd will admit that aside from having a host of player crushes, the favourite umpire fan clubs are still reigning strong.  Readers of Court Thirteen from Australian Open days (oh yeah, we still have more pics to show you from that) will recall that these particular ladies are fans of the gorgeously adorable Carlos Ramos and his Spanish bestie, Enric Molina.

Which is why the clay season brings umpire stalking to a whole new dimension, when the adorable man in chair gets off his fancy high horse and comes down to examine the line. Also provides many opportunities for cutesy umpire convos.

SO much more fun than the hawkeye “oooooooh”.

Unless you’re Gonzo….

4. Sammy is an Aussie and she plays on clay.

For anyone out there who isn’t Spanish or Swiss, it gets pretty irritating after a while when your country harps on about how title starved they are.

Aussies are no different, with a favourite topic of discussion being whether we will ever have a homeboy raise the trophy on our home slam ever again.

It’s also a rife time to whinge and complain at how hard it is to play on clay when you just haven’t been brought up with it, and for Aussies, Americans and Brits to shut their eyes and take a nap until grass season starts.

But for those of us backing Aussie Sam, it’s been a lovely time and the winnage is just going to continue.

C’MON SAMMY!

3. Spaniards Rule (always). And even more, on Clay.

Watching the hottest guys in existence, play deep into tournaments week in, week out?

Yes please.

2. Quarante-Trent

Say anything in a French accent and it will sound tres chaud. Just try listening to the scoreline being called after Jeu, Set, et Match.

1. Rafa Nadal

The King of Clay deserves two entries.

Please let me see more of this in the next few weeks?


Watch Your Backs, Bondarenkos

April 20, 2010

World Group, Here We Come!

According to the latest news from Tennis Australia, the Aussie team is all sorted for Fed Cup this weekend. I’m taking that to mean that all the girls now have a way of making it over to Kharkov – despite the fact that Stubbsy had a mild panic attack on Anastasia’s Facebook page the other day.

The dramas of making it tennis tournaments this upcoming week have been nicely covered on Twitter for those of us who feel that life outside a closed down airport just isn’t half the fun. It’s been relatively easy for the boys, who were in the neighbourhood anyway to make it a road or train trip and trundle through the the gorgeous scenery to reach Barca.

Not the same for the ladies, who will have to be anywhere and everywhere over the weekend for the Fed Cup. Vika’s whinge through her car service ride have made the annals of Twitter gold, and also reaffirmed the most important thing: The girl has an iPhone AND a Blackberry. Another piece of random news that we so love over here at Court 13.

So with A-Rad on her way, we just  need to make sure Sammy can pack that big silver cup in her wheelie and turn up to lead the team to victory. With Stubbsy and Alicia making up the rest of the team, all signs point toward what could be a happy shiny time for followers of Aussie tennis.

It finally looks like we have a team that can pull themselves together and get us the win. If Sammy isn’t too tired from the marathon she’s been running over the last week, she should be full of confidence to take on the Ukrainians and get the Aussies a shot back into the World Group team. After also being the first Aussie with 2 WTA titles in quite a few years (I believe Jelena Dokic would have been the last one), she’s made us so happy that it only seems fair that she takes it down the logical route and gets us back on the map, tennis-wise.
My lovely neighbour, Anastasia, who I still haven’t managed to meet down at the shops but will one day, will also be making her Fed Cup debut.

Alicia has made a steady if not spectacular comeback. Our favourite spokesmodel is back in the Top Hundy and even if there’s no Garnier face cream left, she looks pretty damn fantastic, as you do when your name is Alicia Molik.

And with Stubbsy and Sammy, together again as they belong, can anything stop us?

Ah, it’s these scary ladies:

Oops – I neglected to mention the most important team member. With this guy on board, the Bondage Sisters should be sent packing in no time at all.

YES, IT’S SKIPPY!

(Not Casey. She’s not coming this time, Mum said).


Samantha Jane

April 19, 2010

WE DID IT!

Tennis Australia may be still sorting out it’s internal woes but this morning, every Aussie tennis fan had something to smile about when Storming Sam made it past Bepa and her racket smashing antics to take her second WTA title.

This puts her back into the Top 10 and signifies her as a serious contender for the French Open. The reason I’m quoting like a news report is because I am so completely stoked about this, I really don’t want to chew your ears off with noise about how awesome this is for Sam, and my pet love, Australian tennis.

I’ll be honest that I am a bit of a fair weather friend. Sam was never on my radar much until she started her climb to glory this time last year. But ever since that night I stayed up til 3am watching her take on Sveta on a grainy stream at Roland Garros, we bonded. It was our own personal version of staying up all night braiding each other’s hair. I grew to appreciate her game, her unique look, and most importantly, her attitude.

She wore a wristband with the words “Attitude” and “Composure”, though it looked like that reminder didn’t make it to her opponent, who smashed the racket in a truly glorious display of on-court tantrum.  According to Sam, “They are just two words that stood out to me for the last little while,” she said. “It just keeps me focused on those two things. With the way I played, I was able to do that.”

This is a girl who was at rock bottom, sidelined from the tour for a significant period of time with Lyme Disease, who many thought wouldn’t bother coming back at all. To see her not only come back, but show us that she is better than ever, is an inspiration to all those little girls everywhere who think the only way to succeed is by painting your face pretty colours. I’ve been inspired by her, and so should the rest of Australia.

AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE!

PS. For those of you watching closely, yes, yesterday was a day made of dreamy win for the writers of Court 13. With Rafa and Sam taking out the two titles up for grabs, it’s been happy shiny people all day today and should make for an awesome clay season. Coming up in tomorrow’s post: Top 10 Reasons We Love Clay Season.


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