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.


And The Crowd Goes Wild

January 19, 2011

There’s a reason the Australian Open is the greatest slam of all. (What, am I biased?)

It’s not the happy slam because of the beer gardens everywhere, the costumed fans, the easy access to transportation, the gorgeous sunny spaces and the sparkling blue courts. It’s not the friendly staff everywhere, the fun off-court entertainment and the variety of outer-court matches.

The Australian Open is what it is because of those amazing fans that make up the best tennis watching crowd in the world.

The crowds.

Melbourne Jewish community doing their thing for Dudi Sela against Del Potro.


The crowd gathering in Garden Square to watch Alicia defeat Roberta Vinci at match point. Only drawback: You can kinda tell how a point is going to end, because the cheers erupt from Rod Laver behind you a second before the TV shows the end of the rally. At the same time, you gotta love that.

“We are yellow, we are blue, we are Swedish, who are you?”

The Swedes, always hands-down best costumed at the Open, going insane for their man Robin Soderling on Margaret Court Arena. As for me? I was watching Carlos Ramos, and noting that Robin’s black outfit with fluoro yellow trim was looking decidedly evil, particularly if the yellow was substituted for red. Flames. Owww.

And my favourite thing about the Open, hands down: The Hellas Fan Club at Marcos Baghdatis matches. Granted, earlier I’d seen some stupid Greek kids, wrapped in flags, asked to sing for a Channel 9 camera. They promptly belted out a very obviously anti-Turkish racist chant, which had all the nearby Greeks in titters. The grownups do it better, and they did, all through five sets of Marcos against a random I cannot name. Sorry. And yes, I now have favourite Greek chants. No, I cannot tell you what they mean. But I do know it’s not worth watching Marcos anywhere else other than the Australian Open. The crowd belongs to him.

Marinko’s Main Men: A crew of who I could only assume were Marinko Matosevic’ mates cheering their lungs out for their boy on Court 6 against the Lithuanian army cheering their boy Richardes Berankis. Sitting next to his couch, I could only just mumble “oi oi oi” to their Aussie Aussie Aussies, but was also busy listening in to Pat Cash’s commentary. “Great serve,” he sez, before elbowing L out of the way. Marinko put on a great fight but lost the match, but those Aussies were on fire. “We love Marinko because he is Victorian!” Love.

Tsonga on Margaret Court Arena

Blurry for a reason. Margaret Court Arena is known as the hub of insanity. The Bay 13 of Melbourne Park. MCA at night? Take the craziness and double it. MCA, at night, with crowd favourite Jo-Wilfred Tsonga?

I’m talking hardcore.

The Frenchies had forgotten compatriot Mikey Llodra on the court next door, so we did the dutiful and watched the lovely Mika – always fun for some volleying action – before heading to MCA for the fifth set. And I was afraid for my life. The picture above is blurry – if you were there, you’d know why.

And finally…

A packed house at 1am on Rod Laver Arena getting behind our man Lleyton Hewitt. I hate when matches are called “thrillers” and “epics” but usually because I’m jealous I wasn’t there. This match had everything: The ancient rivalry, the two big players, gorgeous tennis and a passionate, formidable, fired-up crowd. And the essential RLA late finish just made it all the more Aussie. And similar to the Tomic loss at 2am last year, we all went home unhappy. And then waiting in long taxi queues in the freezing.
Because that’s what we do, tennis fans.

Fresh Tennis, It Does Exist

December 19, 2010

I lied.

At the end of my last post, I was all “no more tennis until next season”, boo hoo, but I will admit, hand on my heart, that I lied.

Sure, the days of poring over pictures from glam player parties, skimming endless postmatch pressers and waking up on Sunday mornings, half hung over, trying to catch a final are over. But what what what has been happening in my spiritual home this week?

None other than the Australian Open Wildcard Playoffs, which can mean only one thing: January is in the air.

Less than thirty days off, and I can already smell the sunscreen and the chiko rolls. Richmond station is lying open in wait and the blue signs are already going up all over town. Hughesy and Kate are in on the action and I can bet you the ads are already up all over Aussie radio.

I’m freezing away in Brooklyn but in Melbourne the sun is shining. Australia’s brightest and best have convened on Melbourne Park, and the Wildcard Playoff is underway.

All of our faves were there and I’d like to give a shoutout to the lovely Ronnie, tennis buddy extraordinaire, who made his way down to watch our girls and boys in play.

Kudos as well to the fabulous people at Tennis Australia, who streamed (and are still streaming!) the whole shebang online for those of us who couldn’t bask in the sunshine, hail and thunder and check out real! live! tennis that matters! even during the off-season.

For those of you who didn’t watch, here’s a little bit of what happened:

– The boys played a 24 strong tournament.
Bernie didn’t play. People are upset about that, just like they’re upset about everything he does.
– We had lots of familiar faces. For those of you who like to haunt the outer courts during the AO, cheering for any wildcarded Aussie dubs team or junior in sight, some of these names will be familiar to you. I’m looking at you, Sean Berman.
Challenger fans wet their pants with excitement. Tennis that matters, with challenger-level players? Pass me the smelling salts. My Twitter feed has given me hope in the human race outside the top 100.
– Biggest upset: Carsten Ball. He’s on our Davis Cup team, but looks like all the other young ‘uns are also hungry and hitting big. I’m focusing on the positive here: Nice big talent pool we have?
– Most of the top seeds made it through, reminding me that yes, this is men’s tennis after all. Welcome to the final, Marinko Matosevic and Pete Luczak. Looch reminding me that yes, it was worthwhile for me to stand out in the hot hot heat cheering him on back in Flushing Meadows. Because seriously, the man plays mean tennis. And Marinko giving us hope for a generation.

Next, on the ladies side:
– The ladies played a round robin that for those of you who struggle at the YECs and WTFs, forget it. I struggled on this one, but I can tell you this:
– It’s refreshing having the ‘hover-at-the-edges-of-the-top-hundy-for-most-of-this-year‘ girls aka Anastasia Rodionova and Jarmila Groth well ensconced in automatic entry territory. It’s given a chance to the other girls to come through and get a chance at the wildcard, including hover-at-the-edges-of-the-top-hundy-at-year-end girls Alicia “Alicia Alicia Alicia, Alicia Alicia” Molik and Jelena “Why do I love you so much” Dokic. Comeback Queens, apparently.
– The semis were a ripper lineup, with Roland Garros Qualifier Queen Sophie Ferguson up against Dinara-Scarer Olivia Rogowska; and abovementioned Our Leesh and Our Jelena battling it out.
– Congrats to Olivia and Jelena for making the finals, and now, let us switch on the livestream and see how it all pans out.
– Aussie Aussie Aussie! Nuff said.

Bring on January.


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.


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


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?


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).


All the Aussie Ladies (All the Aussie Ladies)

February 7, 2010

Apparently we should be proud of the fact that our Aussie girls are good enough to be in World Group II. At least we don’t completely suck.

Plus we’ve got Alicia and Casey back in the swing of things, and they’re our girls.

And of course Sammy is there, to give them a talking to when needed.

So we gave Alicia a go, cos that’s what we do. First Rod Laver Arena at Prime Time, then she gets switched from doubles with Stubbsy to a real grown up match.

I didn’t watch the match, but looks like we had some struggles from Our Leesh.

“What was I thinking leaving behind the free facials and spangling sequins for this?”

Leesh did tell Hughesy and Kate one morning before the AO that she prefers playing to commentating. Apparently it’s a breeze – get up and have a coffee instead of going to commentate all day. That might be what she’s thinking right about now.

Our Case didn’t fare too much better.

I’m glad Leesh was there to comfort her.

Don’t get me wrong – I love these girls. They’re our girls, in their Target-wearing, Garnier-slopping, Dancing-with-Stars, AO-video-narrating ways.

But of course Sammy came out, guns blazing, superstar that she is.

Girls, she says, I’ve got this one.

So while Sammy rocked it out on court, Case and Skippy had a look and decided that all is not lost for the Aussies after all.

So the ladies had to try for a doubles match.

Lucky we still have the winning team of Sammy and Stubbsy in the cupboard to pull out when the going gets tough. These girls have won 3 titles as a team and a fair few more with their respective doubles partners so it was a good go from the beginning. They won in straight sets, 6-4 6-2.

We like to pretend we’re good at tennis because for so many years we were. The fact we have a (nearly) top 10 ranked player in Sammy and a huge doubles player in Stubbsy means we got past this one, but what will happen next time?

Come on Aussie, Come On!


Better late than never – Day 2 recap

January 21, 2010

Day 2 Recap – Better Late Than Never

It’s 3am and I’ve just returned from what was once again an epic match. I think I need to stop using that term – epic match – because so far all I have seen this tournament has been just that.

I haven’t written on this blog in two days, but for my tweet peeps out there, you would know that the last few days have just been one thrill after another. From racing around the outside courts to watching the Magician’s swan song, catching the last set of Soderling’s upset and supporting Baghdatis with the crowd, and checking out the many talented players on the outside courts, Day 2 was a whirlwind. Let’s not forget my exciting catch up with two of my favourite umpires on tour, and of course, the EPIC late night thriller between Youzhny and Gasquet.

Day 3 was a little quieter, with my day job taking over and the majority of the day session observed via the genius IBM slam tracker. It was only later when I came up to Rod Laver for a supposedly innocent Round 2 night session that the action began. Let’s put it this way – it was lovely getting to watch a final for the price of Round 2! Then I assumed the night would end off quickly, with Cilic demolishing Aussie upstart Tomic – but what a surprise. It’s now 3.19 am and I have decided to write up more details of the Day 2 and 3 highlights.

You ready? Here goes.

Now usually in Australis come AO time, Day 1 is the day to go. The area is packed with Swedes, Serbs, Aussies and Russians decked out in their national colours and covered in face paint, or even better, zinc. (If you haven’t got zinc where you come from, you need to check it out. It’s like this sunscreen face paint stuff. Potent and awesome, reminiscent of school sports carnivals.) Everyone is wrapped in their flags and the vibe is so thick you could cut it with a knife .

This year on Day One, thanks to the temperamental Melbourne weather, the crowds weren’t as predicted. Now that didn’t turn off the hardy Melbourne crew – instead, they all turned up Tuesday instead. So we had a record crowd Tues, which was amped up again on Wednesday. By the time we got into the grounds, the place was teeming with the vibrantly dressed crowds.

The problem with Days 1 and 2, aside from overcrowding, is the incredible choice of matches available. Everyone is on the outside courts, the show courts are definitely the most fun, and of course you get the big names on centre court that can be watched in the gorgeous Garden Square. This year, Grant Slam Oval has been set up to shorten that annoying walk from Hiisense to Rod Laver and is full of deck chairs, bars and massive flat screens. You could sit there all day with a glass of wine and a good match on.

The girls and I started our morning with a lovely surprise – Baghdatis and Soderling having a hit on Court 9. Soderling is our favourite enemy on CourtOneThree thanks to that fateful night in June when he stole the heart of our beloved Rafa and proceeded to eat it for dinner. But he was hitting with Marcos, who is basically part of the furniture in Melbourne Park and beloved by all. We tried for a signature on my shiny new copy of the Australian Open program but he was in a hurry – the match against Lorenzi was scheduled on MCA later.

We continued perusing the outside courts – Ana Ivanovic was finishing up on MCA and the queues too long, so we headed to Court 2. Aussie wildcard Nick Lindahl was finishing off his match against Nieminen from the night before. Interestingly enough, young Nicholas beat Bernard Tomic in the wildcard playoffs, but in comparison, his sojourn at the Open wasn’t as exciting as Tomic’s. What was exciting, however, was the sight of who was in the chair on Court 2- None other than favourite umpire of all time for our crew, MR CARLOS RAMOS!

If you are hardcore tennis fans, people, you will understand the joy and the excitement of seeing Mr Ramos. For those of you who don’t, I will save it for a guest post that L plans to write, explaining the umpire enigma. Being that the lovely M had already met Mr Ramos the day before, I went over to him as he walked off court and mentioned I was her sister. Of course he remembered her, and told me he’d be on court in 2 matches – the upcoming Soderling match. I of course had no interest in dealing with said player coupled with the irritating Swedish chair squad but would do anything to see our Ramos.

Then the news came over the wires – with Israeli crowd favourite Dudi Sela playing over in the HIisense courts, my clever mates in the stands had spotted Rafa practicing on his favourite, Court 16. Believe me when I say I have never run faster. On our way, we passed Court 17, and who is there flaunting his skinny chest, none other than Andy Murray. So we’ve got Murray on 17, Rafa on 16,  and it’s a feast of young virile men under the age of twenty five. Oh, who happen to play tennis, like, really really well. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

We left Murray playing footy or whatever he was training in that day and came to the crowd by Rafa. Standing by the court triple-deep, with one side closed off, L and S hatched a brilliant plan. Climbing atop the little concrete pot plant tree thingies courtside, L had a perfect view of not only Rafa, but the magnificent Uncle Toni in his sunglasses, clenching his racket. Methinks he doesn’t like our Aussie sunshine – not sure why its not as good as Mallorcan sunshine, but maybe he detected the lack of ozone. Then Rafa decides to leave, but being the gorgeous soul he is, there are autographs happening. And the next thing you know, I have gracefully forgotten my age and am pushing and shoving with the rest of them…..

The rest is history….

Well, not really. Two minutes later Andy Roddick strutted on court and the practice fest continued. With Sela on his way to a loss, we moved back toward the outer courts and caught the end of Santoro’s match. It was really special to see a piece of history in front of our eyes. In his traditional tennis whites and with his old-fashioned grip, the Magician said his last goodbyes to the Grand Slam circuit after participating for the span of 4 decades. The match had been delayed due to rain the night before, but now with the sun shining brightly overhead, the stadium was close to full as the crowd gave a standing ovation, shouting “Allez Fab!”

After a quick look at the schedule, the matches on Margaret Court were too tempting to overlook – Aussie home favourite Casey Dellacqua, renowned for making her way through the 2008 Open with no sponsor and Target clothing, was making a comeback after shoulder injury. Her match would be followed by another home favourite, or adopted son, Baghdatis, whose matches are always a huge party with the massive Greek presence supporting the Cypriot.

I think at this point I started to envy those watching at home. I was missing good matches  – big matches – because the lines were out of control. James Blake on Court 6 had no access and there was no atmosphere at the Federer big screen. The MCA queues were so impossible that the girls at the door had to let people in individually as others left their seats. So I went for a stroll around Grand Slam Oval and tried to catch what I could – Andreev was doing unexpectedly well and there were signs of strain for the unflappable Mr Federer. I gave up though when I heard the girls had finally gotten seats in MCA. I’d get to see Marco, and Casey had won which made it a happy day.

The minute I got in I was instantly wishing I spoke Greek. Nothing like a hundred odd followers draped in blue and white chanting “Marcos Baghdatis” to inspire some ethnic envy! The Aussie Freakinators were still going at it from the afternoon’s Aussie match and the vibe was completely electric. Baghdatis just loves having his crowd at his feet and he milks it for all he’s worth. The Greek songs were sounding amazing and for the eightieth time I wished I knew even a little bit.

Luckily I was just across the way from Soderling v Granollers. Even though Ramos was on the chair, I honestly couldn’t stomach staring at Robin’s awkward, grinning face. The man just gives me the creeps. But lucky I was doing my tweet thing for @betfair_aus, and the fabulous RD_TennisTalk gave me a heads up that I was about to see something very special if I just ventured ten metres north.

And sure enough I did!

Let me flash back to a night some of you may remember – or it might have been day – a night back in June 2009. I was merrily doing my university assignment while listening to RG Radio and occasionally checking my Slamtracker screen. I didn’t really know who this Robin guy was, but I knew one thing, which was that Rafa is invincible. Having watched the AO 09 final, I really thought the crown had been passed on, and there was no stopping the Spaniard. To see him start losing was a shock to the system, and I think there was a point I thought I might be dreaming. I headed to Twitter – as always, my group audience is there for validation – to check I was seeing right. Yes, I was. I couldn’t find a good link to watch it onscreen, but hearing what was happening was close enough. Watching Soderling’s irksome, superlong runner-up speech at the final had me close to nausea and his post match comments irritate me to this day.

So I can’t say I was unhappy to see the Swedish cheer squad left speechless as the lovely Mr Ramos gave, “Game Set and Match, Marcel Gronnellers.” I think I may have cried… or at least hugged L in a very excited manner.

Now we were tired and hungry and had no idea what to do next. Like kids in a candy store with too much to choose from. We headed to the outside courts where we sat with the lovely Melanie Oudin, watching her do well in that first set before it all went downhill, eating dinner and checking out the rest of the evening’s schedule.

After that it was a whirlwind. I wanted to see Moya since the end was nigh, and check out Ferrero at some point as well. Dent was playing, as was Ginepri, and we passed by a fabulous final set between Koellerer and Veic. The guys were trading insults and the Aussie bystanders were three deep. One of my favourite things about the outside courts is the Aussie tendency to pick out anyone – any random player in the entire tournament – anglicise or Aussify their name, and pick them out to support them. Exhibit A, in 2009, had been our favourite, Dimitry Tursunov. Unhappy with our Russian nickname for him, Dima, the Aussies passing by had dubbed him “Darren”, or “Dazza” for short, and were making it known they thought Dazza was a top bloke.

Koellerer had taken similar honours and with his messy hair flying and aggro temper unleashed, the Aussies were roaring for their new best mate “Dan” all through the third set tiebreak and on to the last two sets – where Viec won, probably because his surname was unpronounceable to the self-proclaimed cheer squad.

We moved around form court to court, and then I chanced upon, once again, favourite umpire ever. This time we got to chatting, and let me just say that Carlos Ramos is just as lovely as he looks in the chair. Totally sweet, very nice and funny and really interesting to talk to. He discussed Agassi’s book with M, having both just read it, and gave us some insight into life on tour and working for the ITF. I’ve got to say it, I love the guy.

Moving to Court 14 where two Spanish players were in battle, I found we’d really hit the jackpot in terms of umpire stalking – here was Enric Molina, other favourite umpire of the tour! This time we got to casual chatting, where I let him know that he does great Youtube (you know he does…) and he was riveted to hear about the spectator benefits of visiting the Aussie Open.

It’s moments like that, sitting on Court 14, that I realise why I love the Aussie Open. There is truly nothing like sitting out on a far away court, with only two rows of chairs and a handful of spectators, watching the sun start to set and hearing the call of the line judge and the thwack of the ball. This is tennis at its best. It’s an international tournament and the outcome means so much to say many – yet right now, over here, in this little corner of Melbourne Park (and trust me, court 14 is a corner), it’s just this little point that matters.

It felt that way even more a few moments later, after Hernandez retired and the next match began. Having just returned to the court after a brief visit to quasi-countryman Robbie Ginepri (we’re half American, but whatever, don’t hold it against us), we found a chair umpire setting up shop but no players in sight.

“Any idea who’s playing now?”

“Umm, the Italian girl.. and that other one.”

Great! That was really helpful.

The lovely Mark from security was heaps more helpful. He happily confirmed that indeed, there had been an ‘altercation’ over at Court 10 earlier, when I had witnessed a stream of yellow clad jackets head in one direction – and that yes, the word ‘altercation’ is the one that is utilised by security professionals. He also confirmed that the inciter of the alteraction was likely to have been the same drunk guy who had irritated me earlier. There’s nothing like tying together a story’s loose ends! Mark wanted us to take his schedule, but since the court schedule had actually been rearranged, it didn’t help us much.

The girls had come on court, and weren’t being very friendly. Even when I shouted out, “What’s your name?” to the girl in the pink skirt she didn’t crack a smile. I wonder why! But L and I felt sorry for these two girls, alone on Court 14 with no one but a singular coach for company. So L picked green, and I picked pink, and we vowed to cheer those girls to the end!

Well, as far as we could. The scoreboard was finally updated and I used the wonders of modern Google Mobile to find out their names were Alberta (Brianti) and Varvara (Lechenko). Now, cheering “C’arn Alberta” isn’t too difficult to roll off the tongue, but try saying Varvara and you’ll get what I mean! Needless to say, we didn’t stay very long. Of course I couldn’t leave our two girls without some type of support, so two very kind Court Services kids offered to step in – or more like, I asked them, and made them promise they wouldn’t leave.

The idyll on the outside courts was over for us – there were still a few battles going on, and I found out later I had missed the ballkid peeing pants on court during Daniel v Falla, despite passing by hundreds of times during that match. But our time had come to see what we thought would be Gasquet finishing off Youzhny, even though as the granddaughters of Russian immigrants, we’re quite fond of letting a Russian song or two into the fray at sporting events.

We came just in time for the turnaround – Youzhny was wrapping up the third set and the calls of “Allez Richard!” were getting a bit much. The skinny teenager in front of me wanted tips on pronunciation of the very difficult European name Mikhail.

It’s like Michael, sez I. Michael, but in Russian. So, pretend you’re in Russia, and say Michael.

That didn’t work.

Next attempt:

It’s like Mick. You know, Mick, the nickname for Michael. And then Ale, like, beer that you drink. Got it? So it’s, Mick, Ale. Mikhail. Right?

Clearly not.

We got lots of “come on Michael!” a few “Youse-knee”s, and in general all types of cheering to get the Colonel back on his feet. But back on his feet he was, and we sat it out through one of the most exciting tennis matches I’ve ever been at.

First of all, there is no holding back the crowd at MCA. Rod Laver might be Centre Court, but he’s got nothing on lady Margaret, who was envious when he won a tea set and she only got a mere token after they won the slam together back in the day. Margie knows how to party, and the Aussies had turned around for the underdog as they characteristically do.

After the third set tie break, we settled in for what looked like it’d be a long night. The noise from RLA stopped and started as Alicia sadly cashed in her chips and lost all chances against Julie Coin, but once the match was over the crowd swelled again and Youzhny finished off the last two sets, with difficulty. We missed the last train, but what else is new when you’re at the tennis. I do think that something needs to be done in conjunction with Connexx – I mean Metro – and the Aussie Open but that’s not my dept – or not tonight at least.

I wanted to do you up an update on Night 2 but it’s already the morning of Day 4 and I need my beauty sleep. Match update will come, and so will pics.


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