Allow me to wax lyrical: Jelena

March 11, 2011

Last week after I’d written a long-winded post on my Jelena Dokic love and joy, I found myself at the wrath of WordPress and took it as a sign. No waxing lyrical meant I would post on it tomorrow, when, sure enough, she won the quarters and made the semis. Three days later, all with short posts, she was past the semis, into the final and then – what do you know, I was suddenly granted permission to wax as lyrical as I saw fit.

Turns out it’s not so easy to write purple prose praising a tennis player you’ve admired since your teens when you’re blubbering your guts out. Sometimes it takes a few days to simmer and stew. Jinxage aside, let’s talk about my girl.

She did it, ladies and gents. SHE DID IT.


My girl, Jelena Dokic. First favourite female tennis player. The lady I have supported, followed, cried for, been overjoyed for, and now, done both simultaneously: Jelena. She’s had a nation behind her, and managed to slump, scale heights, and slump again, all in front of our red-raw-applauding hands and wide-open-eyes.

In 2009, L & M were lucky to be present when she made her amazing run to the quarters, beating Kleybs in front of a packed home audience. I was at a work function, but the texts told me everything I needed to know. As a nation, we were behind our girl. She seemed to have finally made it out from behind the plait-wearing-seventeen-year-old, yanked from nation to nation, and the scary man she called father who also lent his name to an Australian comedy show segment.

During her quarterfinal against Dinara, we sat in Garden Square and participated in what is to this day one of my favourite experiences watching tennis at a grand slam. Jelena’s QF was all about every single person in Garden Square, from the Heineken bartenders to the kids playing near the busts of Tennis Australia Walk of Fame peoples – everyone was cheering their guts out. (Granted, we also managed to get ourselves on TV doing so, which was kinda nice.)

Look, she lost the match that night, and that was kinda the end of that brilliant resurgence we saw for a moment. I remember M and I in deep discussion over her ‘rescue’ from Damir into the hands of brother duo Tin and Borna. We talked about how strong she had to be, how amazing to get back and train after all the depression, the injuries, the difficulty, the serious, lets-call-a-spade-a-spade TRIUMPH OVER ADVERSITY, bizness. She did all that.

She then had to cope with flack as shortly after, in an interview with Sport and Style, she insinuated Damir physically abused her. Suddenly, the scary Serb was back all over Australian newspapers, and this time, we weren’t laughing the way we used to. Back then, it was kinda funny, harmless, he was just a douche and not much we could do about it. Now it was personal.

Threats of bombing the Aussie embassy will get you in serious shit, and that’s what happened to Damir Dokic. He’s out of the picture for now, but lawd knows what kind of turmoil Jelena goes through day to day, having all this seriousness, this intensity, this absolute CRAP THAT LIFE HAS THROWN HER behind her.

But I’m not here to wax lyrical over the shit she’s gone through. (Though I did do just that on Monday morning, when I returned to work buoyed up and inspired, and proceeded to tell all my workmates the above story, in detail.)

Because, you guys, SHE DID IT.

First time in nine years, and Jelena Dokic – that’s her there, kissing a trophy. Winning a title. Raising her arms in triumph. Doing all those things even I, as a fan, never thought I’d see her doing again.

If I recall correctly, there’s a post I did in my first few weeks of blogging, during the AO 2010. M, L and I were witness to her frankly shocking performance against Kleybs on Rod Laver Arena, the first night of the tournament. I remember wondering we can remind this girl, with all the love in the stadium behind her, that she can do it – she can DO IT – while she instead shakes and quakes and forgets how to actually hit that ball.

Now she’s back, and the numbers are oh-so-pretty. First semifinal in forever, first title in forever, first final in forever. Stumbling home at 5am on Saturday night, waking up bleary eyed at 8am to find myself dozing on and off during the match, I was bolt upright and wide awake during the last two games and found myself going – damn, she’s hitting that ball well. That only lasted as long as it took for my eyes to cloud over because darling tennis-loving readers, who I hope to hell only read this because you get me when I tell you – I was a blubbery mess, bawling my eyes out. The few tears that snuck out at match point became serious blubbering, and I was skyping L and showing her my tears and dancing with joy because OUR GIRL DID IT.

She’s Jelena Dokic, guys. She’s my countrywoman, she’s my lady tennis player love, and most importantly: She is my inspiration.

Pics: AP Photo
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Davis Cup Envy: Why I Like Bernie Boy

January 25, 2011

I’m a little late to the game, but it’s time for me to say my piece about little Bernie.

Tomic, that is.

I talked a lot about this boy last year, having been one of the few brave-hearted souls who stuck around and braved turning into pumpkins to watch him take on Marin Cilic in 5 sets in the 2nd round. That was 2010. In 2011, Bernie’s got the formula down pat, taking on two Top-50 players of extraordinary hotness (which seems to be completely relevant, Jeremy Chardy and Feli Lopez, to be precise) in his first rounds and setting up a Saturday Night Hot Date with the Prom King himself, Rafa.

While half of Australia mouthed off about the glorious future of Australian tennis and the others rolled their collective eyes at the spectacle BraTomic was making again, I sat quietly in the corner (perhaps mumbling to myself). Not even a Tweet was uttered. Because, while I had no interest in seeing Rafa crash out early, and in my heart of hearts hoped he would be the sole survivor, I also was quietly, calmly, excitedly, happy to see our Great New Aussie Hope do well.

Pic: Reuters

See, there’s this condition I’ve recently been suffering from, and every day I spend at Melbourne Park it gets harder and harder to overcome.

It’s called Davis Cup Envy.

It started on Day 2, when I found myself at my 2nd Serbian match of the day, at the House of Ajde on Court 18. I screamed myself hoarse for Ruski favourite Dimitry as he was swiftly taken apart by Viktor Troicki, and marvelled at how only a few short weeks ago, I’d been Ajde’ing him from my Brooklyn apartment (bed, shall we be honest?) at the Davis Cup final. Finding myself sitting with some members of the Serbian tennis contingent with no knowledge of who they actually were, I spotted Nenad at the sidelines and later, on returning for Janko’s match, saw the whole crew again. The next night, at Novak’s match, as we slipped into the rows behind the player box, spotting Papa Djoe’s and Marion’s head, we found our Serbian friends yet again. And the twinges began.

The next night, I whet my appetite at Mikey Llodra’s match against Chela before moving into full-Frenchie-frenzy on Margaret Court Arena as Tsonga’s supporters grew in strength and noise. After days of watching Frenchie stunts all over the grounds, it couldn’t be denied. The twinges were growing closer together.

Several days later, congregating on Margaret Court Arena to watch Nico (Nico Nico!) being ushered on the Spanish Armada, killing him off swiftly and silently, the twinges intensified. By the time I was at Tommy’s 3rd round match on Friday afternoon, my coach magnet having me sandwiched between Marc Lopez and Tommy’s own coaches, the Armadians vamosing in a sea of red tipped me over the edge.

I was in serious Davis Cup Envy territory.

The Argentinians, the Spaniards, the Frenchies, the Serbians. They all bring it out of me.

I want me one of them find cups, and I want it now.

And having a kid like Bernie around gets me closer and closer to that day.

In a sport like tennis, that’s all about individual, we don’t often get nationalistic. The Australian Open differs from most other slams, that all of a sudden everyone’s face painting and flag-swathing and reminding everyone that their auntie’s grandma’s petsitter’s boyfriend is from Montenegro. Actually, just kidding. Australia is an awesome place in that 99% of the people you will encounter down the street tell you they are from another country, and it’s not uncommon to ask someone, “What Nationality are you?” same as you ask them their name. But despite the huge volume of navy flags and green and gold facepaint around the joint, it’s the Serbians, Greek Cypriots and Spaniards who have something to dance about while us Aussies dance to a dying tune by the time the second week starts.

So let’s stop whingeing about his whingeing, and set a nice example. The boy plays interesting tennis, and he’s going to make it real interesting in the years to come. I’m behind him. And if, somewhere in the mix, he gets to pose in a green-and-gold tracksuit with a pretty silver cup? I believe my symptoms may subside.


STOSUR POSTER

June 4, 2010

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


Welcome to the jungle, Australia

June 4, 2010

Well, this is pretty exciting.

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

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

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

That’s how I like it!


Tick ‘Em Off, Sam

June 4, 2010

Last time I posted, I generated a light and easy ‘to-do’ list for our resident superhero, Slammin Sammy – or as she has now been coined, Bullstosur, or whatever else the viewers of the 7pm project decide.

Let’s tick them off, shall we?

– She killed Serena, with blood and guts and gore. Seriously. Serving for the match and being broken? Saving a match point in the third? Finally getting a break at six-all in a no-tiebreak third set? I call it gore, blood, guts, sweat, tears, and sheer awesome.

– She cakewalked to the final, all over JJ, who I for some reason was worried about. I may have been on a plane at the time, so the pure awesomeness of the occasion has not sunk in yet. But she did it.

What’s next, let’s see? I’ll recap from my last post:

– Get a Grand Slam Title.

Let me explain, folks. That’d make it the first Grand Slam for an Aussie woman in a thousand years or ten. When Our Jelena and Our Alicia were doing well, we still didn’t have a GS, and now we have a lady who will be top 6 as of Monday – and highly likely a Grand Slam champ. Up there with Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Margaret Court. I can see the Sam Stosur Arena looking purdy on some Australian tennis centre… or am I getting ahead of myself?

– Make it to the Top 5.
Well, let’s see. I may or may not have spent a considerable amount of my limited, traveler’s time spreadsheeting the maths. And let’s see. Top 6 as of Monday, that’s guaranteed whether she wins the title or not. But top 5? Could be possible by the time we hit the green stuff. Which, for those of you who weren’t listening, is already happening next week. All the sooky boys who lost on the red shiny stuff are already off to Ole Blighty to practice.

And finally… WORLD DOMINATION.

Can she do it?

Um, hello. She beat JUSTINE HENIN, on RED CLAY.
She ousted SERENA WILLIAMS, the NUMBER ONE seed.
She thrashed JELENA JANKOVIC, former world no 1 who is going through an EXCEPTIONAL clay season.

Yeah. My girl rocks.

See you in Paris!


Off With Her Head!

June 1, 2010

In case I haven’t said it before, I love Samantha Jane Stosur.

She makes me happy, and makes tennis watching worthwhile.

And she chopped off Justine Henin’s head today, full of blood and guts and gore.

There were those who said Justine was the queen of clay, the ruler of Roland Garros, the leading lady, the future of the French Open, the cliche of the cup.

But Sam had SF points to defend, so she wasn’t going down easy.

It’s attitude and composure time, she sez, it’s time for me to show the universe how awesome I am. Because awesomeness is her middle name.

I didn’t watch the match, but she made me happy.

Next stop, Serena.

Laundry List for Sam:

Kill Serena. Slaughter her with blood and guts and gore, and bundle her out of the tournament, just like the tennis writers always say.

Defend your SF points. Shouldn’t be too hard. Dani or JJ. You can DO it.

– Cakewalk it through the final. Get your first grand slam.

– Make it to the top 5.

– Dominate the universe.

Love my girl.


Anyone else for a citizenship?

May 31, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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


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