Aussie Girl in Paris: The Power of Persuasion

June 16, 2010

Oh didn’t I tell you?

I know Roland Garros was a while ago, but this lady used her powers of persuasion to get into Phillipe’s side of town for the rest of the ceremony.

Conversation went something like this:

Man in fancy cream pants and cream cardigan (Roger wimby style): NO! It’s over! You cannot go in!

Me: I came from Australia. Please. I’m going in.

Man (still in cream ensemble): No, you cannot! You cannot!

Me: Listen mate, if you come to Australia you can get in, now I came to France so please let me in… I just want to take one picture, ok?

Man: Ok but QVICKLY!

Man I love the French. 😛
Pics if you will…


An Australian Girl in Paris – Rafa Takes the Crown

June 13, 2010

It’s been a week since the RG final and I never posted my recap. So here goes.

Red Clay

In the absence of Twitter, there’s only one thing a certified Twitter addict can do while watching tennis. In fact, there are several things she can do, and that is what I did:

1) Scream and shout to all and sundry who are present regarding the status of the game. Whether that involves a few choice explosions of FFS (elucidated, of course) or some well thought out prayers, they are all uttered to fellow spectators audibly. For some reason, this is not necessarily as appropriate as shouting it out to the Twitterverse.

2) Write notes in your iPhone for posting on a blog later.

And that’s what I did.

The legends match over, it was close to Rafa time, and I needed a prime position. I knew there was no sense attempting a Phillipe Chatrier debut – although Rod Laver and I have been firm friends for years now, Phillipe and I needed a bit longer to become acquainted. After all, he’s hella more expensive, and I’m a poor traveling blogger, after all. So I meandered around Suzanne Lenglen for a wee bit before ending up stuck in the midst of the marching band. That’s right, they have a fancy marching band at Roland Garros, complete with brass buttoned uniforms and choreographed movements. It was like being at Buckingham Palace in the middle of a tennis tournament.

I took the opportunity to explore the glory of the clay while I waited for the crowds to pass. Streams of spectators were taking their baguettes et jambon and heading to the stands in the annexe courts between Suzanne Lenglen and Phillipe Chatrier, while others who were lesser fans of the marching bands, squeezed through a hole in a hedge that looked kinda Alice-esque. I may have attempted to cross over onto the red clay at one point or other because I was adamant that I wanted to TOUCH it. Red clay, after all. DIRT.

Securing a prime position for the big screen event was paramount, so it was early when I headed to Show Court 1, where chairs were set up on court and a huge screen set up to televise the match. Being ‘seule’, I once again found the optimum position and grabbed it – front row, centre in the stands, and right next to two lovely American boys of the backpacking, frat boy variety.

AJ and Joey proceeded to show no visible sign of irritation at my incessant commentary, in the absence of my usual tennis-watching company, namely, Court13 sisters M & LP; fellow Australian Open regulars RK & JK; and of course, the Rafaloving, Sodhating twitter verse.

We had some special visitors with us on Court One at Roland Garros – the ball boys. Dressed in their adorable red-clay appropriate maroon outfits, minus the incredibly attractive sunhats that are mandatory at the Australian Open, they entered with their minders like a group of school kids on an excursion – and proceeded to enamour the crowd with an array of songs that reminded me of summer camp. The only problem? They were all in support of Soderling.

Not just in support of Robin, mind you. The Robin cheers were so loud, they were nearly as loud as the disgusting boos we heard for Rafa when he came on screen. Recalling the fateful day last June recently documented on this blog, I recalled that Roland Garros are underdog fans – but couldn’t believe the little ballkids who hang with Rafa all day every day could have something against the gentle tiger.

I have decided to kill the ball boys, despite their adorableness. Robin’s prematch interview informs us that he enYoys playing here. I always knew he says enYoy. Tennis dictionary addition. Rafa comes on, and he gets a few cheers, so things are ok between me and the ballkids for now.

It may have been raining all morning, but now its not just Melbourne that can boast ridiculous weather – in Paris its suddenly sunny, and I have taken upon myself to teach my new American frat boy friends about wearing sunscreen. Their burns from yesterday’s picnic at the Louvre have turned an ominous shade of tomato and I’m aware that all of the American travellers I’ve met so far have been unbelievably fair. I introduce them to my trusty friend also known as Sunblock and describe the joys of slathering refrigerated aloe vera on sunburn. Suddenly we’re all old mates, sharing chips and Doritos and discussing the SodHate/RafaLove conundrum. For the record, they’re SodLove/RafaIndifferent bandwagon, and I’m not too pleased about that.

The match begins, and I realise there is a spoiler alert for this match – I can hear when a point is completed by the cheers coming from Phillipe Chatrier. Even worse, I can generally imagine whose point it is based on the decibel level – Robin’s cheers are way louder than Rafa’s. I also discover that the Roland Garros crowd have absolutely no problem with cheering on the error of an opponent. As per my policy, I’m trying not to clap on unforced errors – the rule is only double faults at break point, set point or match point – but when in Rome… I mean Paris.

The French scoring is making me laugh a little bit. The word for Let, First Service is entirely different and I like making up what I think it sounds like. I also adore how on the screen, break points are called Balle De Break. Ballbreaker extraordinaire, that’s what you are.

Rafa has a bit of a beard showing. Seriously, along with Uncle Toni, I’m not sure if I can handle all the hello, hello blown up to lifesize in HD. Uncle Toni is staying classy and doing what I try to do – clapping on opponent’s points. Today, however, no can do, Robinskies.

The net cord is having a field day today but at least Robin has grown up a little and learnt the art of the apology. In fact, he’s grown on me now with that apology. Maybe we bonded when I supported him for three hours straight when he sent Roger home.

Egalite is kinda cute. I like saying Deuce in a deep voice, but egalite makes me feel all French. Which I’m already feeling, surrounded by ballet flats, Haagen Daaz, and damn those baguettes and cigarettes! It’s like an accessory around here and I haven’t got a single one.

Rafa breaks. It’s time to consolidate, but the evil Roland Garros crowd won’t even let him serve.

Sorry Robin. Rafa holds serve with some beautiful tennis and I get the feeling that for the second time running, while Robin played fabulously to get into the final, he will once again be outclassed by his opponent.

We’re at four – two in the first set with Rafa leading with the break, and an amazing rally gets Rafa to deuce. Now I remember – I love clay, and dammit I love finals. The level is just sublime. Play for me, boys.

The iphone keeps changing my notes on Rafa to Nasal instead of Nadal. I don’t like the looks of that.

Robin’s first serve has been awol all match, but after about nineteen egalites, he holds and we’re at 4-3. The first set is nearly over but I’m not moving anywhere. You would think I had enough tennis watching experience but for some reason… my eyes are squinting without sunglasses, I’m getting burnt without a hat, and I’m scorching in my sneakers instead of wearing thongs. I need another water bottle and a toilet break wouldn’t go amiss.

Eat me, Rafa. That animal look of hunger during a point is like a tiger in the jungle and I am loving it. Double faulting at break point? Not so much. Thankfully, kids behind me are cheering for Nadal with the cutest French accent in the vicinity. Take that, ballboys.

Rafa. Being that tomorrow morning you will be the number one tennis player in the world, it would be kind of handy if you could get your first serves in. I mean, if you want to.

Cannot believe he blew three Sps. Stewpod, stewpod Roland Garros crowd. And its about to rain over here…. I love watching live and feeling the conditions. Knowing that each gust of wind that blows through my hair is the same gust of wind that blows the ball into the net. Thrills!

What a shot! I se a yellow, Aussie Open Optus “What a Shot” sign in the crowd at Phillipe as we get back to Egalite.

I love Uncle Toni.

Second lucky net cord for Robin giving him confidence.

Hell, French men. Sweeeet.
At change of ends.

Rafa looking at sky. Methinks it might rain. Ballkids are trying to do a Mexican wave. I’m going to compare and say they can’t do nothing like MCA can.

Cedric tries to get the crowd to shut up. It’s like the bloody cricket. Rafa won’t even serve. Oh hello Robin, you agree with Rafa? Cute. Everyone, SHUT UP.

I exchange twitter accounts with my new American besties. They’re trying to explain to me why its important to join a fraternity, and answering my questions with “I can’t tell you that”.

Sod serves and it’s a fault. Double it, please?

Three balles de set. Less one. Uncle Toni still claps. All class.

Rafa snarls like a tiger. I love that man.

Takes the second set.

Rafael Nadal cannot lose a grand slam final when up two sets to love. Discuss.

Revenge on 2009? Indeed, so beautifully appropriate. I love clay. I love this match. I also reckon that Sod’s level here is better than Fed’s was in Madrid. He’s giving a goof gith and playing more interesting rallies, longer points, better shots.

But here comes the choke. Play begins, and Cedric is being a complete kindergarten teacher with the RG crowd. I can hear them from here.

Around Court One there are flags for every country – but where’s the Aussie flag? Just asking.

Thought there’d be a rain delay but no – here comes the sun.

Rafa holds. Hey you guys? I think we have a match here. Down love two? Then again, Sod is badass. Now that he has nothing to lose he could go all nutso on us and start taking risks that turn the match.

Sodawater is not at all fazed. I guess if he holds here and breaks back he can get the next set.

Shirt change. Oh no. wrong shirt change.

Let me put it out there. Rafael Nadal Parera. This is a very important service game for you and your career. And dignity. And love. Though we will love you anyway.

BP for rafa. I am going to call this my own personal championship point.

My seatmates and I are debating American cockiness and discussing Italian travel plans. I love Europe.

Advantage, Soderling. Americans are convinced he’s said “How about that, Soderling.”

Jeu Soderling. Rafa, hold. Please.

I said its banana time, and sure enough it is. Joey wants to know why Rafa doesn’t take bigger bites. I have a you tube clip to point him too.

Its funny because we’re outside but the crowd is quieter than they are inside. Except the two little ones behind me, vamoosing with the ballboys.

Mexican wave now is rivaling MCA.

Rafael Nadal. Serve pour match. That’s the championship, bitches.

Watch out world. Rafael Nadal is back. He’s bungee one. He lost to sod on this court last year and now he’s back and better than ever, revenge has never been sweeter, he’s bawling his eyes out.

My favourite part of presentation ceremonies is the umpire.
I love how he’s thanking his supporters and ONE OF THEM IS ME.

That’s what happens when you watch tennis live, bitches.

Pics to come.


An Australian Girl in Paris – Part Deux

June 9, 2010

An Australian Girl in Paris – Part Deux

We’re skipping tennis tales from the final Saturday of the French. We all know what happened. I jinxed Sam, I know I did. I know C-Note took the blame, but I have to be honest – it was me. I was in the same city, and I must have messed up the vibes or something. I don’t want to start enumerating my sins like C-Note did, but I know, I know. The only good news is, at least now Australia is slightly aware that we have a tennis star who is wreaking havoc throughout the globe. And at least now when Sam starts smashing up the US hardcourt season, people will take notice. And with Jarmila Groth and Anastasia Rodionova now both firmly back in the top 100, our country can take off with its tennis supporting again. I mean, we got a tennis related topic on the 7pm project, for heavens sake. If that’s not called making it, what is?

It’s time to hear about Part Deux – An Australian Girl in Paris. I had seen Roland Garros, and I knew of its beauty and glory. I had experienced the heady thrill of walking down the tree-lined streets of the Bois de Bolougne and examined the back entrances into the Roland Garros player area accordingly. I had scoped out the toilets, the Haagen Daaz stalls and the beer prices, and I was pleased.

So when two former college tennis players at my hostel expressed a desire in attending the French Open final with me, it became a bit of a party. Tennis bags packed, we were up bright and early on Sunday morning, only to be greeted by a downpour that stilled my heart as it erased my plans of tennis tans, picnics in the sunshine, and of course, dry conditions easing Rafa’s path to world domination.

I need not have worried. Twenty minutes after the downpour, my American mates and I were riding the metro like pros. On arrival, it was time for me to employ my favourite game, most recently used against Thai spruikers on the streets of Chaweng Beach.

Ticket Scalper: “Chercher place pour la tennis?”
Me: “Oui”
Ticket Scalper: “how many you want?”
Me (still walking): None
Ticket Scalper, continuing to follow me, “I have three, for you, three hundred euros..” but they can’t hear the end, because I’ve kept walking. They’re glued to their territory, and stare wistfully as I continue marching to the entranc.e

This time, however, I had to backtrack when I learned that even groundpasses sell out at Roland Garros. That’s right, those twenty dollar pieces of joy that we print off Ticketek at the last minute in Melbourne? Cos an arm and a leg at RG, and aren’t available even on the last day, when the only attraction was a junior boys final, wheelchair final, and the legends doubles.

Well, once I was in, I understood what the fuss was about. The legends doubles, let me explain, featured none other than the fabulous Goran. GORAN!

Utilising my limited but still fabulously accented French, I let the lady at the top of the stairs at Phillipe Chatrier know that I was “seule”. Margaret Court Arena style, she seated me and enabled me to catch the last few games of Goran, Michel Stitch, Andrei Medvedev and Yvengny Kafelnikov finish their legends doubles final.

It is a truth universally acknowledged among the Court Thirteen girls that Legends matches are grossly underrated by grand slam attendees. They provide all the best parts of tennis, without the nail biting anxiety: You get showmanship in shots as the old boys try to prove they’ve still got it, using spin to take the pain off the ‘oul knees. There’s hilarity in commentary, as old rivalries and friendships are made fun of in plain view of an audience after years of locker room suppression. There’s the celebrity factor, as living legends play the game the way we watch it as kids. And of course, the joy of live tennis – NEVER to be underestimated.

This time, we also had a bonus: Ovary Alert. Andrei Medvedev’s three year old son wields a mean racket. Check out the pics.


An Australian Girl in Paris – Part Un

June 9, 2010

An Australian Girl in Paris – Part Un

Readers of this blog from the January era may recall the thrills and adrenaline experienced every year by myself and my tennis-watching partners in crime, L and M. We stake our claim on Melbourne Park early in Week 1, and by the end of Week 2,we’ve camped out in style and made our way into every court, stadium, nook and cranny.

It’s the dirty time of the year, and I’m on Fabulous Tour of the Universe TM. Which meant only one thing: travel needs to be arranged with tennis in mind. While setting up shop in a sports bar to watch tennis with litres of beer and friendly bartenders has worked until now, for the final weekend of Roland Garros it was time to take it up a notch.

It was time to go to Paris, and view La Vie En Paree. I had to know the important things about the tournament: How much does a beer cost? How pretty are the uniforms? Where are the practice courts and which is Rafa’s favourite? Most importantly, where are the toilets?

One of the most striking things about attending a tennis tournament is the colour. Tennis has embraced fluero colours more than most sports – they’ve got the Day-Glo yellow tennis ball, the flashy fashions on the field – I mean, court – and the sweet hues that rival any Pantone book on the purple Hartru of Indian Wells, the blue Plexicushion of Melbourne Park, and of course, that glorious red dirt at Roland Garros.

The most difficult task, of course, was to attend a tennis tournament without constantly comparing it to my spiritual home and tennis birthplace, Melbourne Park.

Which didn’t suit me when I exited the train at Bois De Bolougne and was bowled away by the colour differences – instead of bright blue and orange, I was faced with luscious dark green, from the trees that line the streets leading to Stade de Roland Garros to the leaves that hang over the walls of the courts. Complemented by the Roland Garros red, the burnt orange clay colour that accents all the logos and shows up brilliantly on the court. The cream of the officials’ uniforms, the muted tones of the Haagen Daaz logo, all scream French, classy, cool and collected.

Arriving at Roland Garros on Friday, I noted the streams of people leaving the stadium but knew that there was still close to a set of tennis left to complete for Jurgen up against my boy Rafa. Turns out the ticket box was closed, tickets can’t be reused, and I was close to tears. Until some well-practiced high school French came to my rescue, and suddenly I had evaded several black suited security guards and was in the holy grail, the region of Roland Garros.

Passing by the Haagen Daaz girls selling ice creams and the everpresent gangs of roaming ballkids, I was in the main circle area between Court 1 and Phillipe Chatrier, where a big screen broadcast of Rafa and Jurgen was in progress. Let’s be honest. I can’t say I saw much of the tennis. There were French men in their jeans, blazers and loafers, lounging around with women in sundresses and cardigans. The volunteers and workers in their cream silky dresses with burgundy sashes and ballet flats stood guard at the entrance to the court with men in cream trousers (trousers are the only word for these) with very RogerWimbledonesque cardigans. Everyone in sight is eating a baguette or smoking a cigarette – usually both. The colours are vivid and dazzling. I’m stunned by the bright green and cream, but what I really want to see is a dark red clay court.

So once the match is over, and Rafa lets Jurgen know who’s boss, I’m negotiating the steps up to Court 5 and photographing the clay through the holes in the cyclone fence. I want to touch it, feel it, even taste it, Francesca-style. I’m in Roland Garros, babies.

Even the rubbish bins have my name on it.


Don’t tell Rod, I’m with Roland Now

June 5, 2010

I’m on a train, biatches.
What kind of train, you may ask?
Oh, the train that is taking me to ROLAND GARROS.
It’s not the same around here. I haven’t got my trusty Sandringham line taking me to Richmond station within eleven minutes, or the baby train that takes my lazy bum behind Hisense to come in the back way through Garden Square.
I don’t have my stack of Ticketek ground passes, printed from the Internet with bright blue logos and black barcodes and folded haphazardly.
I didn’t pack my tennis bag, full of water and sunscreen and food for the way.
I just arrived in the hostel, dumped my bags, asked for directions and hightailed it to the metro.
I’m inclined to consider the MasterCard ad right now.
Metro ticket – free, from a kind couple who gave us all day Paris transport passes at the airport.
Roland Garros tix – who the hell knows?
Sunscreen – I’m still using the free Ambre Solaire we received in our Garnier giftbags at AO09. Sadly, I’m not even kidding.
A beer – exorbitant, but expected.
Being at a different Grand Slam?
Priceless.

See you soon, Roland!


STOSUR POSTER

June 4, 2010

THIS IS ON THE FRONT PAGE OF HERALDSUN DOT COM DOT AU


Welcome to the jungle, Australia

June 4, 2010

Well, this is pretty exciting.

Being that in the past, my lovely little blog was one of the only mouthpieces of Australian Tennis that I was aware of – even The Age tennis homepage still has Aussie Open pictures on it – (aside from the excellent work they do at tennis.com.au which I recommend you all bookmark) – it’s been exhilarating to see all the support creep out of the woodwork for Sam.

Her semi was televised live on free-to-air TV in Oz – far cry from her Round 4 matchup against Serena at the AO, when she was cut short for – let’s get this right – Home and Away.

The guys at SEN, sports radio, 7pm project, Herald Sun and the Age are finally all over it. In fact, I finally got to see something I see rarely outside the Australian Open – a little bit of tennis on the front page of the online newspapers.

That’s how I like it!


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