Summer sun, something’s begun

July 28, 2011

I’ve taken my itsy-bitsy teensy-weensy break from tennis that had you all bawling your eyes out and unable to watch the green grass or the patriotic displays without me, and now with Wimbledon, Davis Cup and that weird break-in-the-middle-with-nothing-of-significance-going-on over, it’s time for me to talk tennis in the state of the nation.

It’s summer in the United States, and being that I’m actually located in the land that is Up and Over, I’ve had a chance to finally grasp the concept of the summer swing. See, it’s turned hot in the east coast of the Americas, and I’m not talking hot-sun-blazing-off-sparkling-blue-courts-in-Melbourne-Park-hot, which in my humble opinion is totally doable because, let’s face it, anyone can step into an oven and handle the heat for a few hours; but serious, sweat-inducing, brain-melting-and-coming-out-of-ears swampy heat that radiates from every surface in the city from sidewalk to building to sidewalk again because there is absolutely no space to breathe in this town, and makes a sauna look like a pleasant whiff of steam. It’s hot, let me just say.

So while the hot’s been hotting and the sun’s been sunning I’ve noticed that suddenly, they’re playing tennis again, and this time, it’s at timezones that make you realise – um, hello lovers, it’s summertime!

This week, the tennisoids are back and making us happy again, both East Coast and West Coast, which means – tennis soothing me to sleep again! Oh, right, and also, potential live tennis visits, American media coverage, some bizarre concept of a US Open series that I still haven’t quite wrapped my head around it – and another Slam only four weeks away!

Let’s skim over the fact that the irony of life will have me missing most of these live tennis opportunities and examine the excitement we have ahead of us:

– He’s number one, he can’t be number two: In case your only source of tennis news is this lovely blog, even when defunct for two months, I may as well warn you now: Sit down, grab a cup of tea and take a deep breath, because if you though the #1 player in the world is only applicable to gents whose first names begin with R, apparently not. It’s out with the Rafa and Rogers, in with our beloved Nole. Novak Djokovic, Number One. Can’t say I don’t like the sound of that.

– Aussie, Aussie, Aussie: Aussie tennis update has been all silent on the ladies side but good things a’brewing for the boys. Wimbledon had “Our Bernie”, the irksome little brother one likes to shove away and ignore but then can’t because he’s actually kinda cute at times, show us his real stuff and not only blow away the competition, causing upset after upset on his way to the quarterfinals, but also show through some surprisingly well-articulated press conferences that the kid’s grown up. He’s playing great tennis, he’s giving good quote, and he seems to be a fitting replacement for Our Lleyton, who’s not even in the Top Hundy anymore.

– These kids are alright: Wimbledon also heralded a new era in Aussie sport – heh, look at me all cliched and stuff – when aside from Bernard Tomic making headlines, we did ourselves a junior sweep. Ashley Barty and Luke Saville both took the Juniors titles in Girls’ and Boys’ Wimbledon, respectively, and Mama couldn’t be prouder. Great kids, too.

– I like them boys: Irrelevant to anyone other than myself who’s not a completely shallow tennis fan, but some of my favourite boys have been showing good results lately and that makes me happy, if not particularly proud. Welcome back Mikhail Youzhny, Feliciano Lopez, Janko Tipsarevic, and recently, the gorgeous Ernests Gulbis. If that won’t make this upcoming stretch worth watching, I dunno what does.

– So, on that note – who’s heading to DC next week? Methinks a little daytrip is in order.


‘Tis a Tennis Lurrvin Nation, we are

May 5, 2011

Instead of actually catching up on the insane week of tennis which is somehow – shockingly – only halfway complete, I thought I’d draw your attention to another, just as important piece of tennis-related news recently gracing Australian shores (and expats who keep up to date with Australian news online for fear of missing out on conversations in dinner parties in ten years time).

Turns out a study done by an infidelity-driven website in Australia has gleaned the most popular names on those laminated (per Ross Geller) “Lists” made by married couples as to which celebrity they are allowed to sleep with outside of their marriage.

While the ladies list is topped by a former Miss Universe and several international supermodels (Jennifer  “Former Miss Universe” Hawkins, Megan “face of everything hot” Gale, Elle “The Body” McPherson and Miranda “Victoria’s Secret” Kerr), the next are a little surprising: After television presenter Melissa Doyle goes Queen of the Aussie WAGS, official CAB and let us not forget, Mum of Mia, Cruz and darling little Ava Sydney: IT’S BEC HEWITT! Though she’s listed as Bec Cartwright on news.com.au, for the record.

Just to put that in perspective, with 6% of the vote, Bec ties with Naomi Watts, and is just 1% ahead of the fabulously lovely up-and-coming-in-America models slash actresses Abbie Cornish and Rachael Taylor. Guess all the Aussie boys fancy themselves swinging a tennis racket with a lady in diamonds cheering them on courtside, I suppose?

The Aussie girls aren’t blameless either. Tailing off at the end of a list that includes hotties such as Hugh Jackman, Simon Baker, Ryan Kwanten and Eric Bana, 4% of the list said they’d sleep with…. Mark Phillippoussis. I guess if Paris Hilton went there… Or if you have a nice long memory, you might recall this:

Well done, ‘Straya.


Tastes Like Candy

May 3, 2011

I’ll catch you up on my tennisy thoughts in the morrow, but for now… how spectacularly finger-lickin’ tasty is tomorrow’s line up in Madrid? Buh-bye, sleep.


Olympics Practice

March 12, 2011

Has anyone else looked at the Mens dubs draw for Indian Wells and noticed a scent of something slightly Davis-Cuppy and highly Londoney?

Looks like all the boys have gotten together with their countrymen for what looks to me like a serious Olympics practice time. Seriously, 15 out of 32 teams are all patriotic and homeboyish.

I mean, even Fed is doing it with his mate Stanley, and we know they only do that when there’s a chunky piece of gold necklace on the line.

Spain has about seventeen viable teams, though the only to win a title this year were Tommy Robredo and Granola Bar. Rafa is back with Marc Lopez, provider of doubles titles. Nico and Ferru have teamed up, Montanes is with GGL, and Fernando Verdasco is – not with his usual boytoy bestie Feli Lopez, but Marrero. Seriously? There goes the Davis Cup practiceness.

Other partnerships? Let’s go. Team GB has the Muzza Bruzzas; and Team America has Quizner and the Brybros. Boring.

The Polish mafia are together as always with Frysternberg and Matkowski, and old Israeli chaverim Yoni and Andy have reunited. Julian Benneteau is missing his DC partner Llodra, who’s ignored the theme and stuck with Ziki, but he’s teamed up with Gasquet instead for some Frenchie fun. Cilic and Karlovic are putting every umpire’s tongue to the test, and there’s even a Brasilian team I have honestly never heard of – Soares and Melo? Finally, the Indian Express are still on the Team Reunited Tour, Pico is Argey Bargeying it up with Chela, and the best part – we get the King and Queen of Karaoke Awesomeness, Nole and Troicki.

Lots of bromance, lots of besties, and lots of patriotism in the air. Tastes like a World Cup but I see five rings in all sorts of pretty primary colours.

LONDON 2012, BABYPIES.


Let’s Get Sandy

March 10, 2011

I’ll be honest. For most of my tennis-following life, March and April were kinda empty for me. After the fun and games and perpetual high of January, things were pretty quiet on the home front stretching all the way until the clay season. I’m going to be perfectly honest and admit the embarrassing fact that the blame lies almost entirely on that pesky piece of latitude or longitude or whatever they call the fancy stuff that makes up time differences.

Honestly. And that’s the third time I’ve used that word in this post, so I mean it. American tennis tournaments were not made for hard-working albeit nocturnal Aussies. Clay works perfectly for me: Up late at night, studying, watching tennis, going to work half asleep, and it all works out. American tourneys, on the other hand, require an early-to-bed, early-to-rise, perhaps-I’ll-call-in-sick approach, which never really sat well with me. Sure, the US Open meant livescores and streaming radio in the workplace, but as for the others – forget it. USA, who? (I lie, I apologize, I’m sorry, I really love living here now, I promise, don’t hurt me…)

That all changed last year, when I found myself in New York on holiday in the months of Feb and March, casually coinciding with Indian Wells and Miami. Suddenly, I could spend all afternoon watching TV and had no problem following the little American stint that precedes clay.

And I was hooked on these lovely tournaments, where everyone is still fresh as a daisy and we still don’t know precisely how the year is going to pan out and all sorts of rankings are at stake because no-one’s played in forever, and the sun is shining across the coast which makes even the grimmest New York day appear as if spring is around the corner.

So, that makes me pretty pumped for the week ahead. To the California desert, ladies and gents! And I know it’s not exactly sandy, but that’s what I think of when it comes to desert, so bear with me, shall we?

Let’s do this, BNP Paribas!*

*Note: I’m still not quite sure how the whole BNP Paribas-tennis thing came about. The first time I’d ever seen a BNP Paribas sign in my life was on a street in Lyon, France, and I got so excited I actually made my backpacker friend stop and take a photo of it. It’s all over the tennis, but, seriously – who are they targeting? Perhaps my marketing segmentation knowledge is limited, but I don’t quite get it. Suggestions welcome, maybe I’m missing some huge chunk here.


That’s My Girl!

March 4, 2011

Not sure what the rules are in blogging about what happens after you write a really fabulous, high quality post, full of humorous witticisms combined with actual sporting analysis (okay, that part was a lie), sprinkled with interesting facts and sounding light and engaging throughout. Yup, it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it (generally it’s not me). Okay, so I finally blogged about the awesome news that is Jelena Dokic doing well again. I mentioned the high points of her career, I referenced her lows. I even perfectly summarised the Damir situation.

I then inserted the pic, and started waxing lyrical about the excitement of her Malaysian success.

Jelena Dokic
Thanks, crappy grainy picture from 2009 Australian Open. You so weren’t worth losing a post over.

So now my brain is working overtime and telling me that I’ll get my chance to write another Jelena post, after tonight. Tonight when she plays in the QUARTERFINALS. Of a WTA EVENT. Against another Serbian player I am growing to like, BOJANA (Bojangles to her mates). So obviously I’ll be writing another post on this tomorrow, and there’s no point posting this half-assed piece that laments my WordPress incapabilities and doesn’t even mention the awesomeness that is one of my favourite female tennis players doing well at the moment.

But I will anyway.

Let me just say, to quote a particularly noisy Australian tennis fan who filled the screens at Garden Square during a blissful Cinderella-esque quarterfinal run in January 2009, against Dinara Safina:

COME ON, JELENA!

I love you.


I’m back.

February 21, 2011

Not that I’ve been anywhere.

Well, I did somehow manage to teleport myself from the sunny blue courts of Melbourne to the icy concrete sidewalks of New York City, but that hasn’t hampered my livescore-app-checking, scoreboard-watching, late-night-streaming, getty-browsing antics. I’m here, and I’m tennis blogging, just for you lovelies.

I do have a few housekeeping announcements to make, for starters:

1. The Australian Open, being the most awesome tournament of all time, and also the one I devote the most blood and guts to, is not over in my book. Because I still have heaps of photos, videos and indeed, juicy bits of stories for y’all, it is possible I will continue to mention it from time to time. Deal with it, embrace it, learn to love it. The summer is not yet over. Far from it.

2. I am a crap photographer, and I get tennis-blog-envy and retreat into my little cave when I see other bloggers posting awesome photo and video. I am now going to embrace my inadequacies and focus on what I love best – wordage. So, accept this as my apology for the rest of the year. The photos, if they are up, will be crap. If they are there at all. Just know I do my best (if clicking the little “enhance” auto-button on my iPhoto is considered my best).

3. After spending a life living in Australia, where 95% of tennis tournaments take place during the witching hours, my nocturnal self is finding it difficult to accustom myself to this world where tennis is played during the day. I can very well stay up for a night of tennis watching (hello, clay season) but I’m not quite sure how the employed do it. Watch scoreboard at work? Sure. But as for the rest, beats me. So apologies if my tennis watching in my new hometown is not up to scratch. I’m still as owlish as they come.

4. I love tennis. That’s just a public service announcement.

Let’s get back into it, shall we?


Court 13 Exclusive: This Is How We Party, Serbian-style

February 8, 2011

The last drop of vodka has been drunk, the last headache pill has been popped, and we’ve finally given up begging for a hangover cure and just ridden the wave. Novak’s win was just a short week ago, but the parties in Belgrade are still going strong, if a notable presence missing from Rotterdam is anything to go by.

Wanna see how they party? We know how it began, we know how it continued.. but we sure as hell don’t know how it ends.

Now lucky we are the snapparazzi with a crappy point and shoot, because we’re about to show you what we do know:

It started with this:

Forget a man in a crazy Serbian wrestling, or perhaps rowing? Costume. The Yavise Nole was happening and happening loud. Serbians to the back, Serbians to the front, and a helluva heap of Serbians to the side. FYI, Yavise Nole means something along the lines of “say hello, Nole”. Why he would say Hello when about to serve for a championship is beyond me.
Which he then proceeded to do.

And then thanked his lovely team, who we had such a great time papping all evening:

One of whom was happy to celebrate accordingly with the singing Serbians… his name is Uncle Djo.

By which time the party had begun.

Hardcore tennis fans may recall a sunny Sunday in Belgrade a few short months ago, where a country made sporting history, and promptly proceeded to make Youtube history with a series of golden celebratory videos that warmed the cockles of any Serbian fan. Viktor Troicki jumping on a car and dancing to trumpets? Why, thank you kindly.

This blatant display of gorgeous bromantic patriotism had us at ajde, and the Davis Cup envy only grew after Nole raised the championship trophy and thanked his country. Lucky we had the chance to be in Davis Cup video round 2, when the Serbians followed Nole to the broadcast compound in Garden Square.

Nole’s as good a party whore as the rest of us, so clearly he couldn’t be left out for long. Between interviews, the champion was standing on the platform, shaking his fist and singing along, cheering for his countrymen who were so beautifully proud of their sporting hero.

So much so that down came the shoes, those gorgeous red and blue and white Serbian symbols of awesome, thrown down to the two biggest cheerleaders of the group.

Don’t worry, we scored ourselves a photo and a feel.


PAPPED

January 31, 2011

There’s one thing to have lovely seats, and get to watch fabulous tennis up front, and dance around with the Serbian army.

But the beauty of a slam final is all the other people who stand up and take an interest, because it’s a Slam, and it’s a final. And those people, who dot the audience, are sometimes of the famous persuasion.

So we decided to pap them.

I have now buried all journalistic integrity and will share with you accordingly the fruits of my surreptitious iPhone use combined with deftness and dexterity with my point and shoot. Excuse the fuzziness.

Celeb spotter extraordinaire, LP spotted Eric Bana in the crowd. Having a lovely chatskie with Vince Colosimo.

Before all that happened, of course, this lady arrived.

Molly was there too… but I was actually papping the Serbians at the time.

Alicia looked lovely.

And shared secrets with the lovely Renae Stubbs, also in the same row.

 

Who else? Oh yeah, just a player box filled with the most awesome Serbs you’ve ever met.

And Ana.

Yeah. That’s called papped.


What Ajde Looks Like

January 31, 2011

Buzzed is the only way to describe the feeling of a Grand Slam final and its aftermath. You spend all week, roaming the outer courts, watching two random people from countries you can’t point out on a map, with last names you can’t pronounce, hitting a piece of yellow fuzz with a wooden implement strung with netting, and somehow it’s all significant. When that same scene gets played out in an arena watched by thousands of people, with millions of others watching on TV, commenting via social networks and writing about it in newspapers, all of a sudden it’s elevated to the next level. That tiny match you watched on an outer court, with only a few stray family members, a coach, and some off-duty ballkids watching? That was all part of it, all spinning that huge intricate web that somehow led to this time, this place. Now.

That’s how we headed into RLA tonight, feeling like the antics of Rally for Relief and the incessant court-hopping of Rounds One and Two were more than just a few weeks ago, but knowing they all somehow knitted themselves together to get us here, to watch these two champions take each other on.

Suddenly it all made sense – let’s be honest, the Hiisense debacle that insisted on slaughtering every Serbian that came in its path? It was a sacrifice, an offering to the tennis lords who dared deem Serbia worthy of a grand slam. The cool breezes, the rainy patches, the lack of the typical Australian heat? It was a nice reprieve for two men who spent their leadup to this tournament gearing up for precisely that type of weather, and then sailed through the final day, when the mercury hit over 40 (that’s over 100 for you northern folk). Suddenly it all came together, and we found ourselves in Rod Laver Arena, watching Novak Djokovic take the Championship over Andy Murray in three gorgeously played sets of brilliant tennis.

Not that, of course, that’s all we did. Being the girls that we are, far more comfortable on the outer courts than we are in Centre Court, we found it disconcertingly awesome and straight out of our tennis fantasies to find ourselves on the outside of Team Djokovic’s box, in an area dotted with celebrities, while our two favourites battled it out. So we did lots of papping along with educating our neighbours (Jake Garner: Correctiontheballwasgood; Neighbour: What did he say? Me: Correction.. The ball was good… I watch too much tennis, don’t I?) and then we cried when Nole won.

True story.

Pictures, you want? Okay, here’s what Ajde Looks like.

We arrived, and Jake was there. Jake was standing in his blazer, waiting around.

Then Jake stood in his blazer, waiting around, with a child. The child was a Tennis Australia prodigy. I think. I wasn’t really listening. There was awesomeness to be absorbed.

Then Jake stood in his blazer, waiting around, with Muzza at his side. They were waiting for Nole, who was doing this:

Yeah, I know my pics are grainy and you can get prettier ones from Getty and whatnot. But this is my story and I’m sticking to it. Wanna read on?

We were really busy trying to get a glimpse of this lady here. Ain’t she pretty? And ooh she had such lovely bling on.

Nole was playing too. Even with the neverending ball toss.

He played bee-yoo-tifully. Like, the best tennis I’ve ever seen. Which doesn’t speak much for my quality tennis journalism, but let me say this. He was on fire, from the top of his recently-grown-back-spikey-shaven-head to his Sergio-Tachini-clad-Nole-emblazoned-tushy to his super-duper-extra-traction-Serbia-coloured-Adidas shoes.

He was on fire.

Not that Andy wasn’t either. All rumours of a choke are hereby dismissed by yours truly, because i was close enough I would’ve smelled the bile. This was no choke – this was awesome meets awesomer, and Andy was out-awesomed.

The Ajde Army may have helped:

Particularly this handsome young man:

Or maybe this fine lady:

Though Muzza wasn’t completely alone in his corner. Aside from having a fabulous Mum, he had such gentlemen as these, one of whom consistently had to remind him: “It’s your Slam, Andy, this is your tournament!” Um, okay.

Aside from Team Serbia singing from one group to another throughout every change of ends, there was lots of papping to be seen, with Eric Bana and Vince Colosimo having chats down the bottom, Molly Meldrum watching riveted from the top, Dave Hughes looking antsy to our right, and Alicia Molik and Renae Stubbs holding animated conversations mid-point to our left. That doesn’t include the riveting people watching enabled by an excited Serbian army located immediately next to Novak’s box, begging Ana for autographs, shaking hands with Djoko family members, and somewhere, somehow, involving an Orthodox Priest. Not quite sure how he scored the invite.

And then this happened, and we all lived happily ever after.


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