Where have all the cowboys gone?

May 31, 2010

There’s a reason we love clay, which may have been enumerated once or twice in this article.

Our Spanish boys are usually running wild this season, taking down opponents ad, deuce and centre. (Sorry, lame tennis joke had to be done). This season, we’ve had David Ferrer in the hotseat, making the semis in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid, and the final in Rome. His results on clay this season would arguably be second only to Rafa and Nando – but where has he gone? Oh wait, that was him losing to Jurgen Melzer in the third round of the CLAY SLAM?

And what about the other boys – Juan “Pico” Monaco and Juan Carlos “paperface” Ferrero?

Oh, so THAT was Juan Carlos losing to Robbie Ginepri in Round 3? Don’t get me wrong – readers of court Thirteen from way back may recall that these girls made up the two-woman cheer squad for Mr Ginepri in his first round exit from the AO 2010. We embrace our American roots, and we cheer for Robbie. Unless he is playing a Spaniard on clay. In which case, he has no business winning. None whatsoever! But props to him. Just don’t beat Nole. Please? Ta.

As for Pico, I don’t even know. His match was so long ago it’s escaped my memory. Something about a first round upset. Upset, indeed. My dirty cowboys are all gone.

Anyone else for a citizenship?

May 31, 2010

Week 1 of Roland Garros has been particularly exciting for the Aussie patriots among us – oh wait, that IS us. Because we’ve had two beautiful fairytale stories, and one of them isn’t over yet.

Earlier this year, Australia welcomed two new girls to our stable of tennis players. They’d both had the good fortune of learning to play and becoming professional in the greatest sport in the world – already a great start. Then, this profession enabled them to travel to the greatest country in the world – you may have heard of it, considering they play some rather important tournaments there. Then, they were privileged to fall in love with men from said country, which enabled them to receive citizenship to this fabulous nation.

So now we have Our Jarka, aka Jarmila Groth, and Our Rodi, aka Anastasia Rodionova, playing under the flag and making us proud. Anastasia has donned the Green and Gold for Fed Cup, and after her results this week, Jarmila can’t be far behind.

While Jarmila had to get past the one-legged Dinara-slayer Kimiko Date-Krumm, it was Rodi who had the real upset in the previous round by taking out the mild-mannered and elegant lady Bepa Zvonareva. Both girls met in the third round in what could only be considered fabulous for Australian tennis, yet meant that unfortunately only one could make it through.

Jarmila saw it out and is now one of only 4 wildcards in history to make it to the 4th round of Roland Garros. She faces the just-missed-out-on-seeding Kazakh Yaroslava Shvedova in the 4th round… but we at Court Thirteen reckon she has a good chance of quarters… if not semis.

Which makes me ask all the other little boy tennis players out there in Aussieland… how about ensnaring some more hard-hitting, beautiful-looking, sweet-tweeting tennis playing lasses on tour? Citizenships available… we love our girls.

La Vie A Paree

May 31, 2010

Hello, ladies and gents, and let’s give a warm welcome back to Court Thirteen.

For those of you following Twitter, you would be aware that tennis watching has not been a ball for the Court Thirteen crew lately.

It’s been a mixture of the Roland Garros iPhone app livescoring, Twitter score reports from the twennis community, and the occasional benevolent sports bartender who has been generous enough to play tennis on the plasma while feeding me beer, wine and onion rings.

The tennis watching hunt began in Thailand, where the kind waitresses and manager at The Islander Bar, Chaweng, Koh Samui enabled me to view the Madrid Fedal final in luxury and joy – albeit slight humidity. I had my jug of pink cocktail and tennis on the big screen, and Rafa beat Fed for the first time in 11 months.

In Jerusalem, the tennis watching hunt has stepped up. For the first time, I am getting used to being in the same timezone as my tennis. It means all day activities are pushed aside as tennis watching becomes paramount – or does it?

With my favourite sports bar only opening at 7pm, its meant that the Roland Garros iPhone tracker has become my best friend, and that my tennis watching hours are limited. However, as Court Thirteen does, I will bring you the highlights of week one, and snippets for week two. Because this weekend brings a very special surprise. Stay tuned.

The Power of Davai

May 10, 2010

It’s no secret that we at Court Thirteen are particularly partial to those who hail from the eastern stronghold of testosterone-plated tennis, the boys of Mother Russia. Maybe it’s our vodka-infused veins, or the folk songs Babushka sang to us as she rocked the cradle, or just an appreciation of damn charosho tennis.

When we had all the machis like Maratski, Dima, Kolya and Misha on the scene, it wasn’t hard to harness the power of davai in the tennis universe and sing a bit of “nyet nyet nikavo”.

Since Maratski’s found more productive ways to spend his time, Kolya’s off to get his injies fixed and Dima’s taken to cocktail making and record scratching as a more lucrative career, we’ve been left without our hometown faves and an excess in the Power of Davai.

Luckily we get to dump it all on the glorious Misha, who seemed to appreciate our folk songs more than Dima did (including the original creation “Dima, Dima, Dima”). (For video evidence, you are welcome to check out match point of Youzhny-Gasquet, AO 2010.)

With the folk songs ringing, Misha powered his way to a win over Marin for the title in Munich. Nyeh zhoritzy chloptzy, pozhalusta, dosvedanya.

We had a squiz at the Misha-Marin match (between stream fails) and thought it a shame Marin keeps playing our faves, because I haven’t been able to cheer for him in a match, since, seriously, Chennai or something. There was some pretty inspired tennis on both ends – unfortunately the streams couldn’t hold up across a single lengthy clay court rally 😛

The power of Davai!

Court 13 FTW – Montanes is our king

May 9, 2010

Court Thirteen veteran and hence random favourite Albert Montanes did what has become inevitable now in every tournament – the “Federer Upset By A Random Player” – and we couldn’t be happier that it was our Alberto!

First there was Baggy, then Ernie, and now there’s Alberto. These boys are all joining a hall of fame for those who “do not care” for The Mighty Fed…. Insert your own names here.

There goes that plan to snag an Estoril title in hopes of bumping up the points and hanging on to #1 by the hair on his chest for the end of Roland Garros and an attempt at Pete’s record. (Though the hair on his chest is a bit strong for a precarious hold. That stuff would be strong as rope.)

For those of you who have been with Court Thirteen from the beginning, you’ll be aware that this blog was named after that gorgeous little corner of Melbourne Park, where there are still patches of dirt left over from construction, where the tram lines make the most noise, and the fans rarely venture.

Where there are no toilet queues, ever, and even the chair umpire isn’t quite sure of the names of who is coming up to play next. Where the security guard gladly shares his order of play with you, and three random people sit down to watch the match. Where the silence of tennis sets in and surrounds you because you’re too far away to hear the mounting cheers from Rod Laver and the show courts.

Court Thirteen is our happy place, and it’s there that we sat down to watch Montanes take on Hernandez in this year’s round one. We may or may not have been trying to gain an audience with a particularly lovable umpire at the time, who sat himself down at Court Thirteen. While chatting with Enric, we kept an eye on little Alberto whose impressive Spanish guns and little Aussie fangirls warmed our heart. He’s now joined the ranks of the Fed Beaters in the universe, and we couldn’t be prouder. VAMOS!

Have Blog, Will Travel

May 7, 2010

The time has finally arrived, my little pumpkin pies.

For those of you who follow my Twitter (and if you’re reading this, and you like tennis tweetspam, you most definitely should be), you will be aware that I am departing shortly on an adventure I like to call “Fabulous Tour of the Universe (TM)”. Travel adventures will be blogged over here and you are welcome to check in on my adventures as I go.

Of course, the sporting parts will be covered here at Court Thirteen – and that’s where the rest of the universe comes in. My travels will cover Thailand, Israel (missing the challenger by just a week, and yes, I so would have gone), and then heading over to Europe and the USA for some serious backpacking adventures. I’m guessing its like packing a tennis bag, Australian Open style, just multiplied by six weeks?

At this stage, the European and American adventures brings the extreme likelihood I will venture over to a tennis tourney or two. I aim to be at the final weekend of Roland Garros, and though grasscourt adventures are too expensive for me, I’d love to hop by any other minor events that may be accessible in the Western European side of town during June/July.

The real fun is going to begin in the beginning of August, when I depart the Continent and its historical culture that feeds my inner geek, to greet the mecca of all that is shiny, new, big and delicious in the USA. The hard court season will be mine and time and money permitting we’d love to get over to Legg-Mason, Toronto, New Haven and of course, the grandpapa of them all, the US Open. Here’s where my fellow tennis lovers come in, as I’d love your recommendations of which smaller tourneys are the best to spend the time and money visiting. If for some strange reason you are officially affiliated with any such tournament AND you read this blog, and would like a completely random Aussie blogger giving you some bloglove, then you can feel free to send the love back in this direction, if you please 😛

In the meantime things may simmer down on the bloggage front here and there – I will definitely recount all awesome experiences but may find it difficult to keep up with the day to day of tourneys, particularly grand slams. But don’t you worry the stalkerage gene is still intact and I will be taking the Beauty of Plexicushion Blue and the Joy of January with me everywhere I go. I’m off to discover whether tennis exists outside of Melbourne Park, support Aussies wherever I go, and meet whichever of you tennis tweeps care to join me on this adventure. Buckle up, kids. It’s going to be vamos all over the place.

On The Ball: Asia-Pacific Style

May 6, 2010

Huge thanks goes to the Twitter-ers @TennisAustralia who hooked us up with a video clip of today’s Davis Cup draw in Brisbane. They even tweeted me directly which is much appreciated from one busy lady to another.

As expected, Our Lleyton is number one for the singles, however the surprise comes with the fact that American export and Aussie homeboy Carsten Ball has been named as the other singles player. Fitzy attributes it to Looch nursing a “wrist niggle” but Looch himself reckons he’s “fine now”…. We’ll see what happens if he needs to head out on Sunday to finish off the Japanese!

Either way, it should be great to see Carsten step up to the big time. He’s a tall man, and a lefty, and the best bit – the Japanese have been doing their homework on Looch for the last few months now. Ball’s Papa played for DC way back when so it’s sweet we’re keeping it in the family. It might also teach him a wee bit more about the true blue fair dinkum ways – he’s been hanging with his mates in Cali a fair bit and it’ll be nice to have him involved with the boys in green and gold for a change. That accent needs to go, stat!

Streaming starts at 2pm tomorrow. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

Brisvegas, Baby

May 6, 2010

It’s Davis Cup this weekend, and the lovely folk at Tennis Australia have given us plenty to get excited about with some great videos of the pressers and the clay court preparation over in Brissy, where the team is getting ready to take on Japan, watching Ironman 2 and maybe heading down for some bowling. Don’t go too crazy, kids. You’ve got some big matches coming up. 😛

Baby Boy Bernie has been dropped from the team in favour of Our Lleyton and his new hips, who made the special trip over from clay court heaven in Europa Europa to help the Aussie boys.

Lleyton’s told us he’s not happy about the scheduling and anyone who has done the flight before would have to agree. Nothing like making the strenuous flight from Europe, via Singapore or Thailand, then on to Aussie, adjusting your body clock, playing 3 arduous best-of-five tennis matches – then heading back again for more punishment. It’s really not on, and good on you Lleyton for letting them know about it – in a grown-up manner too, snaps for that.

Here’s the rest of our team, ready and raring to go:

Looch is still on board, good boy that he is, even though Gooch is still out and that makes us a wee bit sad.

Mr America, Carsten Ball has come instead to show the Daddyland some love. He is, after all, the only one who’s played some of these guys in his adventures outside the ATP World Tour, with the Japanese guys all outside the top 200. It’s his first week on clay, so let’s hear it for the boy.

Dubs specialist Paul Hanley has been summoned for his expertise, having done particularly well with his partner Simon Aspelin since the start of the 2010 season, though according to Fitzy, his dubs partner is “yet to be determined”. Right, because you’ve got a dude hovering outside the top 100 with one week on clay under his belt – or the winner of doubles grand slam titles. Tough decision, that one is.

Fitzy, of course, is adorable as ever, the Daddy of the team and “very pleased” with the new clay court at Pat Rafter Arena. Check out this video featuring time lapse footage as they replace the normal hard courts with the special dirt.

The boys are reuniting as besties in Brisvegas, watching Ironman 2 and playing tenpin bowling. Get ready for good times this weekend, Australis.

Davis Cup 2010, can I get a woot woot?

Oh My Little Llama!

May 5, 2010

For days the whispers have been getting louder, and that sinking feeling in our stomachs has been getting stronger. Only three days ago on this very site, I mentioned a tribute to our darling llama Juan Martin, who’s been out of commission for way too long and needs to get well better soon! The rumours the damage was more intense have been circulating for a while now and today it was confirmed – Delpo will be having wrist surgery today, and could possibly be out for the rest of the season.

For this lady on Court Thirteen, my first live encounter with the Llanky Llama was at the AO 2009 quarterfinal. While Fed didn’t give the boy much of a chance, it was the first time I’d seen him play, and I found him to be quite the adorable one. He went home that night, but I hadn’t forgotten him, and watched like a proud Mama on my little Livescore box that morning in September. (USO sucks for time differences, I don’t think I’ve watched a match in years – just FYI). At Kooyong this year, the clever ladies at Court Thirteen in charge of scheduling (here’s looking at you, @Laypesh) decided we would attend on day one rather than day two.

Let us now be grateful to the genius of L, who ensured that we saw JMDP in what was to be his only appearance at Kooyong before pulling out to save the wrist – THAT GODDAMN WRIST. That same wrist that had him struggle to Blake over in Hiisense, while poor Mama was only metres away in RLA, watching Juzzy and Lena battle it out in the Round 2 QF. Thanks to the Australian Open iPhone app, we were able to ascertain he’d despatched Jimbo and were certain he’d make it all the way down.

Alas twas not to be, and one gorgeous summer afternoon at Hiisense, the boy showed Marin he just didn’t have the stamina anymore. He headed home with his wrist in tatters, and we haven’t seen hide nor hair of him since.

Here are ten reasons you should all grab your prayerbooks and hope for a speedy recovery for Mr Juan Martin:

10. He’s a little llanky llama with awesome delts.
9. Adorable half smile on said llama face.
8. His heavily accented English gives good presser.
7. His Spanish gives even better presser.
6. Oh yeah, he plays tennis too.
5. And he’s not too bad at the sport, if I may say so myself.
4. He managed to beat Rafa in a grand slam, and, even more importantly, stayed off the shitlist. Cos we love Delpo.
3. He beat Roger Federer.
2. He beat Roger Federer, in a grand slam.
1. He beat Roger Federer, in a grand slam final.

How can you not love the guy?

Get well better soon, Juan Martin!

Note: Pics copyright by my not-so-talented-self and the lovely M.

There’s room for you in here too, Alicia

May 3, 2010

This week’s WTA rankings are out, and in lieu of any exciting movement on the boys’ side, things are very exciting for the Aussie Ladies.

Despite losing the final in Shtootgart to Justine, Carlos and the Allez Machine, Sam has now reached a career high of #8 in the career – and equal best Aussie since Alicia Molik, who reached the same place on the charts in February 2005.

That’s not all – Alicia is making a great steady climb up the rankings, having entered the top 100 last week and now sitting just under Rodi. According to this fabulous article from the WTA website (click here), Alicia is “on the ascent” – from here, the only way is up. Most interesting to note, she is Number 41 in the Race – a number I’d never paid much attention to in the past, but one which says a lot about how far she’s come since her comeback.

All this makes me think Our Leesh could be back up there in Sam’s side of town at some point too – after all, it is the WTA. Look at that top 10 – move over, girls, and make some room for Leesh. As for Sam? Top 5, baby.

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