Fb.Me

December 19, 2010

All the cool kids are doing it these days, so I figured we should move this blog into the land of The Facebook, where uploading pictures is as easy as a click and you can all share your wondrous brilliance right back at me.

So check out the Court Thirteen Facebook page, and while you’re there you can see the treat that is pictorial goodness.

Seventy-three tasty images, fresh from M’s camera and my iPhone, taken at the Australian Open 2010. They may be a little grainy, but the moments are pure priceless.

Let us know what you think.


Moments of Joyness

February 2, 2010

Well its once thing to hang up your sunhat (yes, I did purchase an Australian Open branded sunhat on one emergency sunny afternoon) and say, tata to a summer of tennis, it’s time to reset our body clocks and watch random overseas tournaments on livestream with Portuogese commentary. I mean, I will most certainly be falling into that category in a week or so.

But for now, we’re Aussie girls, and we don’t get tennis very often. (Watch us count the days to Davis Cup against – that’s right – Taiwan – in March.) So we’re going to milk this a little while longer, with a few more recaps and photos from the summer of tennis.

It doesn’t feel like only three short weeks since the girlies and I loaded up on sunscreen, confirmed our (MY!) credit card details on Ticketmaster and packed our everpresent “tennis bags” for what promised to be an awe-inspiring summer of tennis.

Here are some of our favourite moments from what has been an incredible whirlwind, of train rides and ticket “appropriation” and umpire chasing and sunburn and phone-charging in RLA concourse and toilet queues and big screen cheering and Aussie Aussie Aussie and hot Spaniards and live bands and IBM Slamtracker and EPIC EPIC TENNIS.

It started out with Hit for Haiti, where we remembered just why we love this sport, even if we only get it once a year. It was described so perfectly by one of the tennis writers I read avidly but who’s name I can’t recall, who reminded me it serves those tennis geeks among us who just love to remember that these people actually have, you know, personalities. And stuff.

Hit for Haiti

The teams squaring off on each other...

Kim & Andy

Kimmy & Andy

Team FabulousSo we had Kimmy and Andy sizing up Rafa, Novak, Serena and… who’s that in the yellow? Why it’s L L Lleyton… Awkward, anyone?

It has been uttered, perhaps blasphemously, that Hit for Haiti was probably the best part of the whole two weeks. I’m inclined to agree. Here’s hoping they do the same every year.

What else happened during the week?

– We nearly melted from the rain, and we got to know Little Bernie just a wee bit better….

Day 1 brought all the rain... and the dressed up awesome people of Australis to MCA.

We became riveted by the racquet stringers in the middle of garden square

And watched “our Jelena” crack it, despite being surrounded by a Stadium full of Love (true story).

On Day 2 the sun was shining, so we abandoned our post in the RLA concourse and went out to find adventures. Which we did. For example, one particularly hot, Spanish adventure on Court 16, who proceeded to sign LP’s tennis ball binoculars, my AO program, and essentially our hearts for good.

And our favourite celebrity on the circuit….. FETTE TONI!!

Some of his mates joined him too.

We watched the Magician’s Swan Song…

Caught up with Target-wearing Casey

Sang “we just had a barbecue noweh, noweh” and other assorted Greek favourites with Marco

Located our favourite umpire…

And watched Soda Water get bitten by of all things, a Granola Bar!! Happiness and Joy!

Found some hunky Spaniards on Court Fourteen, always a favourite location:

And most importantly, harnessed the power of DAVAI MIKHAIL to prevail over intense fifth set cramps.

To be continued


Day 4… still no pics. If you read on, I’m impressed.

January 25, 2010

Day 4

I think it’s now become clear to all of you that I can’t stay away from the Aussie Open for too long. On Day 4, I’d decided to be a good grown up and head back to the day job.

That’s until the lovely folks at Betfair offered to send me to the tennis – again – if I tweeted for them. Being that tweeting to me is breathing, it wasn’t hard to make a decision.

This time, I was front and centre on all the action – Corporate gold tickets, four rows from the front on centre court, not far from the baseline. I had lovely views of Nole, Lleyton and Carlos Ramos. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Coming in to RLA was bizarre, it gave me that feeling I usually get halfway through week 2- and only on day 4. It’s that “get me a sleeping bag and find me a tent, I’m moving in kids” feeling. Seriously. Sometimes I go to Melbourne Park during the year for a concert or show and feel like I’m  home again. This time, I had been away less than 10 hours – from 2.30 am after Tomic match, to 11am in time for Novak.

Novak’s been waltzing around quietly for most of week 1, and that day was no exception. He lost it a little in the first set but then kept on waltzing. Or like, hip hop waltzing. I think he liked my Ajde Nole, but the corporates around me thought I was clinical. Do they not speak Serbian?

Chiudinelli has some really vocal supporters right across the way from me. They look like Team Roger with a name change, all red and white like inside out nurses. They’re singing “Q Dinelli” really loudly, which is good, because otherwise I’d have no idea how to pronounce the dude’s name.

I have the best seats in the house –  technically – but the scoreboard is really hard to see. I keep getting them wrong. I think it’s break point, but really we’re right on serve. How embarrassing.

Can’t figure out who’s in the chair. Is it my good mate Enric? I think I’m the only tennis fan who looks out to see who’s in the chair at matches, and a good ump means a good match. Please tell me I’m wrong. I’ll feel much less like a loser.

I’m checking on my phone and I can see Baghdaddy isn’t doing so well against Ferrer. This is not good. However, I’m in Rod Laver on amazing tickets, so I’m not making a sprint to Hiisense to see it. Even though there is nothing like a Hellas fan club chant to make your day.

Aussie Ana’s on Margaret Court Arena, and the shrieks are getting louder. The MCA crowd know how to party, and partying they are. A little check on my phone Scoreboard tells me it’s more like suicidal howls. Then again they may be Gisele fans, which could explain the cheering.

Novak’s finishing up the match but first goes for an “equipment” change. Yes, that means his shoes. Now, I worked in footwear for nearly five years, and last time I checked footwear would go in the “apparel” category. So please, next time, I expect to hear “apparel change”. Thanks, Tennis World. I knew you’d listen.

Novak’s about to  finish off the match, but he decides to take a pisstake at Hawkeye. Classy. I love it.

He clinches the match and it’s time for Aussie favourite Sammy. Now I followed Sammy through many a witching hour through her golden run in Roland Garros, but now that she’s on home soil she’s lost her allure somewhat. At Hit for Haiti, there we had all these glitzy and glamorous tennis players bantering and hitting with the best of the best, and Sammy was like the little lost girl on the edges. Doesn’t mean she isn’t fabulous, but I’m all for cheap thrills and she don’t give ‘em to me. So I bailed, and went to find the Hellas who were sure to give me a good show.

And I did. Now the rules at Melbourne Park mean that Hiisense is available with a  $20 upgrade from a ground pass – but no rules regarding Rod Laver tix. Turns out nothing would help as Hiisense was sold out. So what did this resourceful lady do? Swap tickets with a stranger of course!

All the ladies and gentlemen are sitting outside the food court, watching the match on TV. I start with a general public service announcement: “Is anyone not planning on going bck in to this match?” No answer.

I try again. “If you’re not going back into this match, I’d love to see it. I have tickets to Rod Laver Arena.” I know the Williams girls are both up in the next two matches, and most ticket holders for the day are after Venus and Serena. Not Baghdaddy and Ferrer grunting like old men.

One lady looks up. I start my sales pitch again. I kind of leave out I have RLA tix. She hears me and buzzes. “What if I want to go see Stosur on RLA?” I relent. She looks nice. I haven’t got my phone on me – it’s dead, and charging in the betfair tent. But she looks lovely, and I’m a trustworthy Australian. So we swap tickets and I go on my merry way.

Of course, the Hellas don’t disappoint. I go home that evening with “We just had a barbecue, nowe, nowe” in my head – and for those of you who know the greek words, please don’t ruin it for us – M and L have made up their own lyrics and they’re quite passable in a crowd.

Baghdaddy’s match finishes and I race back to RLA to catch L L L Lleyton. I’ve had a love hate relationship with the man for as long as I can’t remember. He was our golden hope but he was also annoying as hell. He got us in the papers overseas, but for all the wrong reasons. Then he married a soapie star and that just made him all the more irksome. But now he’s playing good tennis, so we like him again. Aah, I’ll never decide.

But the green and gold boys were out in full force, having cheered Sammy to her previous win, and they were gunning for Lleyton. The two rows of USA cheer squad in the house had not a chance. Their cheers reminded me of being in overnight camp. “What’s his name? Donald Young. Where’s he from? USA.” Puh-leeze! Oh, and the “boom boom, dynamite.” That’s straight out of year seven bunk competition.

After Lleyton cleaned up nicely, with a lot of loud COME ON’s making me feel like it was back in 1999, I wanted to head to MCA because beautiful Tommy was battling it out with Tipsy and I really love Tommy. I loved him since Lleyton made him cry, and if anyone knows which match I’m referring to please remind me? It would have been circa 1997-8 methinks. Tommy still won, but Lleyton made him cry. Good times.

Tommy was at Kooyong and I did try to do my stalkery “Tommy! Hi Tommy!” before he went on, but he was too nervous eyeing off Novak against the Channel 7 men. Then he went into his freaking out, talking to himself between points – of which the only word I could understand was a rude German word which shall not be repeated on this blog. I was unimpressed with his language, but agreed entirely with every word – Tommy Tommy Tommy!

Turns out the match was fraught with nervous tension but of course the MCA queues didn’t budget and I didn’t make it in until afterward. Oh wait, except for the two tweens who emerged right at match point. In their little shorts and Australian flag singlets with little handbags perched on their bums, they were all excited for their day at “The Tennis”. But they LEFT the court at MATCH POINT after an epic FIVE SETTER between TOMMY and TIPSY and as such, they should have their tennis watching license revoked from them. They deserve no such privilege.

It was Fenja’s turn on MCA next, but at this stage the exhaustion had set in. For some reason, living in the same timezone as a grand slam is more exhausting – for more details, see previous post. So I watched Fenja play nicely, and I made friends with a lovely Danish/Spanish gentleman sitting next to me. Then I spent a few moments in Hiisense to watch Jo Willie, pushing past all his tween fans but not making it in time for an autograph. Then I figured out what the irritating helicopter had been hovering over MCA – Prince Bloody William!

Turns out all my clever match chasing had let me head to the opposite end of the complex right when the Prince headed to RLA. But who am I kidding, I was still in a 500m radius, so I get something for it right?


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.


Day One in the Town

January 19, 2010

I have lots of favourite colours. I love green, I love purple, and I love blue – that deep, teal greenish blue that looks great on a summery dress. And in that family of greenish blues, there is one blue that I love for a completely random reason – it’s the Australian Open, Plexicushion blue. The blue that’s used in all the signage, all over the venue, on the Tshirts, tickets, towels and plastered on buses in Melbourne. It’s the blue of the plexicushion on court and it’s the blue that reminds me I’m home.

And home I was!

Except today, for reasons I’ll never know, the Melbourne weather in all its unpredictability decided to go one better. It said, I know you smartarse Melbourne people, what you’re like. You’re the eternal optimists. You’re the kings and queens of “she’ll be right, mate”.  You spend three days in a heat wave saying “cool change supposed to be tonight, isn’t it?” and wait for that cool breeze and inevitable torrential downpour. You head through the cold winds of the winter knowing that by afternoon, the sunshine will come. You expect the weather to change, because nine times out of ten, it does.

Until today!

Today, for some unknown reason, the rain came… and stayed… and went away for a moment… and came back… and goddamn it I just wanted to watch some bloody tennis!

For the exciting Day 1, the three of us like to get the full ground pass experience. This means no need to waste your hard earned dough on the spectacles in Rod Laver or Hiisense when chances are there’s a top quality match being played on the big courts at Margeret Court Arena, Show Courts 2 & 3, and even the rest of the courts, including of course, our favourite, Court Thirteen. So while M and I had work/study commitments for part of the day, L headed down this morning to see what kind of adventures would be found on day one of the Happy Slam.

With the rain coming hard and fast, play was delayed initially, but the eventual clear up came and all us Melburnians breathed a sigh of relief.  For example, you may refer to the previous post on this blog. By the early afternoon the skies were clearing and L was relaxing on Margaret Court, watching Wickmayer v. Durgheri and loving the antics of the legendary Freakinators. Highlights include comments on Wickmayer’s little practicey bits…. “Forehand…. Backhand…. Forehand… backhand….” And so it went. Then the rain came, and then it went, and then it came, and the guys started mopping up, and just as play was about to resume…. The rain came back again. Lots of fun and good times.

Well, it actually was, because while all this was happening, my clever sisters M and L had taken a breather inside the warm and cosy Hiisense foyer. Where clever L happened to pass a tournament celebrity in the eyes of CourtOneThree, and many who love this great game. We’re not talking players here, or even a past legend of the game. We’re talking the man of the people – umpire Carlos Ramos!

“Mister Ramos!” M shouts, and jogs over to where he is. He is, as should have been expected, delighted to see her. Mr Ramos is a gentleman and gave her the time of day, and more, despite admitting to jet lag and having to ump another match that night. Which reminds me – did anyone see Carlos Ramos umpire a match on night 1? Thinking it might have been one of the ladies’ matches in Hiisense…. Hoping for another rendezvous with the Great Man before the week is up, so for all spottings Ramos, make sure to tweet in this direction!

Roundabout this time the rain stops for a moment or ten, and I made my way into Melbourne Park. Can’t describe the joy, but I can say it wasn’t the same joy as when the sun is shining, the beer gardens are full, the people are streaming…. Okay, not going to get into a huff about this or anything. Twas still a great day of tennis! Found the girls at MCA and watched a whole two – maybe three – points played by Australia’s newest hope, Bernard Tomic. I was intrigued by this guy because to hear the Australian media talk about him, you’d think he was the saviour of the planet.  For more on this, see “Why an Article about an exhibition match is news” in Saturday’s Age. Not that he made it very far – that lovely rain started again and this time it was for real. The Freakinator’s tastefully choreographed “Umbrellas up! Umbrellas down!” wasn’t going to work this time so it was sardines all around inside the foyer at RLA.

http://www.theage.com.au/sport/tennis/why-an-article-about-an-exhibition-match-is-news-20100116-md9f.html

Being just before seven, all the evening pass holders were picking up their champagne, fish and chips (apparently that combo was a hit) and then queuing up at door 18, watching the Del Potro match on screen and shouting insightful comments to their singlet-wearing friends. It took fifteen minutes to crawl from door 8 to door 12 where M had made her way earlier, and got me trying to think up some sort of maneuvers game for crowded situations such as this. I’m sure if the Freakinators had been on hand they could have come up with something. Perhaps, “everyone in blue, start walking. If you’re in green, crawl on the floor. Those of you in red, climb on the backs of those on the floor.” It could have helped the situation.

Starting to understand where all the Wimbledon attitude comes from. Being rained out for a day is unfun. Wimby in January – well, it was an experience. The realisation that this doesn’t usually happen and was more of a translation of the Extreme Heat Policy rather than an activation of a Wet Weather Policy made it all the more irritating.

DelPo finished off the young American and with Hiisense nearly done for the day, we started debating whether they might move an MCA match on to Hiisense. It was at this time, however, that the skies cleared up, Nadal started playing, and the options became endless again. We could go watch history being made as Grandpa Magician aka “Allez Fab” Santoro sang his swan song. We could find out what Bernard was made of and cheer on a countryman. And of course there was Rafa up against our boy Luczak playing on big screens everywhere.

We headed back to MCA, and found a kid I can only describe as a “gangly lad”. Sorry, it reads straight out of Enid Blyton, but its true. The kid hasn’t yet figured out what to do with his body – but what he does do, he does okay! Sitting behind John Tomic wasn’t so okay though. Every messed up point and I was bracing myself for a Damir Dokic style meltdown. All the mums and dads and grandpas of the Tomic extended crew were there as well, and lets not forget a heap of children. As Johnny bent down to say something to the little girl sitting next to him I could only hope that said child would prevent any blasphemy from being uttered. Once again, shoutout to the fabulous Freakinators for livening up what was a great match but bloody freezing and insanely windy. The Ants go Marching had a revamp with “Tomic, Tomic” as the refrain, and that brought our boy home in straight sets. I didn’t forget my Tomic family fear, especially when the match announcements came (sure enough, Dementieva had moved to Hiisense and we were all welcome inside on our ground passes) and some clever camper yelled a loud “Shut Up!” in hope of a Tomic interview. Couldn’t see who it was but being that it came from a very close vicinity to my right side, I wouldn’t put it past my friendly neighbourhood Tomic family member. Classy!

With the next match on MCA scheduled to be Aussie qualie Ebden up against crowd favourite Monfils, we were again spoilt for choice. The Santoro match promised to be a classic, and of course Rafa is Rafa. Garden Square was filling up and Luczak wasn’t doing all too badly, considering.

Santoro won out, and we were back there to sit up front with our tennis friends Florian and Florence, muttering in as much French as we could muster. As M and I discussed how our house looks (“ma maison est assez grande et de style traditionnell”) and what we’d eaten for breakfast (“petit dejeuner”) using our eloquent levels of high school French, I sensed some stern, French eyes on me. The French face-painted crew cheering on Santoro were still shouting “allez Fab” and other lovely unintelligible chants. The Croations were going at it for their new young gun Cilic. And behind me was a stern faced man with a pass around his neck announcing himself as the coach of Arnaud Clement, clearly unimpressed with the private school education of an Australian young woman.

It turned out even all the Croatian song and dances couldn’t keep the rain away, and we heard the inevitable news, “Play has been suspended for the rest of the evening.” Still unsure where the fomo-inducing noises were coming from – my guess is on court 10 or 11 somewhere to the back of show court 3 – but wherever it is, we will find it tomorrow and ensure it is a party we are part of! I do kind of rue the fact we missed watching Gonzo today, apparently the “Chi Chi Chi, Le Le Le, Chile Chile Chile” could be heard at MCA and reminded these ladies once again, that its that happy week in January.

And it was a happy day – all things considered. We even got to thaw out in the end by applying the classic Ticket Procurement Method ™ outside Rod Laver Arena and watching the Jelena match start to finish. It was sad. I don’t think I want to talk about it anymore. From one Aussie girl to another, Jelena, we love you. You need to love yourself, and realise how much we love you, and the sky is the limit. Last year, the three of us sat in Garden Square among hundreds of Aussies and watched our recently returned Princess Jelena win back our hearts. She fought and she won, and even as she lost that quarterfinal to Safina, we were all fiercely proud.

(This might be the spot where I mention the fact that as we chewed our nails and tore our hair, the girlies and I got screened on national TV. Oh, and did I mention it was the most watched television that week? Surprising, isn’t it, what happens when the ladies from CourtOneThree are on TV…)

I thought she’d come back better than ever, but basing on recent form and the performances over the last month, we know she’s got a bit of a way to go. The thing is, that way to go is nothing to do with her physical shape and everything to do with her mental abilities. Jelena, Jelena, Jelena. I don’t know what happened on the plane last week and I don’t know what happened yesterday on the court with Tony Rochus. But we really, really love you. Us Aussies really do. We want you to be happy, and if you can make us happy by winning some tennis to do that, so be it. If you’re unhappy playing tennis and want to be happy doing something else, then so be it. But whatever it is, just make sure you’re happy.

Tonight, Jelena looked completely miserable, and it just ripped my heart out. Sorry about the lack of technical tennis talk, but this is a girl who represents the heading of today’s Tennis page in the MX, a free newspaper distributed on Melbourne public transport. “Tennis – We used to be good.” Babe, whatever you are now, it sure as hell isn’t good. I don’t care if you’re not good at tennis anymore, but please be good – just be good, and happy, and wonderful.

And now enough with the pop psychology for today. I’m sure there is more for tomorrow.

I’d love to say what a fabulous day tomorrow will be, and all the great matches we have lined up, but seriously, its nearly 3am, and I’ve gone on forever already. I’ll be tweeting from there for Betfair_aus so make sure you check out www.twitter.com/betfair_aus and www.twitter.com/rishegee for updates on who, what, where when. I mean, you really don’t want to miss out on Baghdadis practising shirtless on Court 15, do you?

PS. I still need to write down more of the hilarious quotes from Hit for Haiti yesterday.

PPS. M is going to post up pics. Seriously, she is. And they’re good. Just hang in there. I can add in some of my crappy ones but seriously… hers are fabulous.


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