10 Reasons Why We Love Clay!

April 22, 2010

This week heralds a time when the colour of our screens change and life becomes happy and breezy again.

Here are a few reasons why we love it when the dirt of Europe takes over our lives and makes tennis full of joy, love and laughter.

10. Sliding is Sexy

9. The View’s not bad from here


It’s one thing to be a jet setter and travel all over the world on your yacht and private plane.

It’s another thing to be a tennis fan, where you can head over to the most gorgeous countries – and some pretty boring, grey ones as well – and get a glimpse of what they have to offer.

So far this year, we’ve been tempted to do things like play with lions in Joburg, swim with dolphins in Miami, and play golf in the desert (by far the most daring activity of all).

Clay season takes it up a notch. Is there anywhere you wouldn’t want to be?

The View from Monte Carlo is salivating:

Nice makes you want to take a spoonful, cover it in hot fudge and dig in.

And I love the ancient statues in Rome right up against the brick-red clay.

8. Longer Rallies make pretty watching

I love it when you settle in to watch that first clay match and just like the players have to readjust their game, we’re readjusting our watching eyes. The rallies are longer and for those of us who like to watch, it doesn’t get much better than that.

7. Rafa on Fire

There are reasons this sport was invented. This is one of them.

6. Time Difference makes ALL the Difference.

Australians all let us rejoce for we are young and free….

Free. That’s right. We’re so free that we’re on the other side of the world, a 24 hour planeride from most – except a handful of Southeast Asian countries, some islands for occasional holidays, and a random nation that copies our every move and then whinges about it.

We’re also desperately alone every morning as we venture into the day ahead, stealthily creeping into Monday, or Tuesday, or the 1st of January in the knowledge that we are going where no man has gone before. We take it on the chin for those of you on the other side of the dateline, because we’re hardened up Aussies and we like being adventurers. But sometimes, when you’re all still having a party up on Sunday and we’re stuck into Monday morning, it brings on the yuckness.

That’s where Clay season is made of joy, because come 6.30 in the PM, we can sit round the Teev with our dinners and our glass of wine and have a night made of fun right in front of us (or at least, after MasterChef. And for those of us without Fox Sports, in front of the Livestream). If you’re going until the late match, you only  need to keep your tired peepers up until the relatively earthly hour of 2 or 3 am and then off to beddy-byes you go. Thanks Europe.

5. Umpire Love

Any self respecting tennis nerd will admit that aside from having a host of player crushes, the favourite umpire fan clubs are still reigning strong.  Readers of Court Thirteen from Australian Open days (oh yeah, we still have more pics to show you from that) will recall that these particular ladies are fans of the gorgeously adorable Carlos Ramos and his Spanish bestie, Enric Molina.

Which is why the clay season brings umpire stalking to a whole new dimension, when the adorable man in chair gets off his fancy high horse and comes down to examine the line. Also provides many opportunities for cutesy umpire convos.

SO much more fun than the hawkeye “oooooooh”.

Unless you’re Gonzo….

4. Sammy is an Aussie and she plays on clay.

For anyone out there who isn’t Spanish or Swiss, it gets pretty irritating after a while when your country harps on about how title starved they are.

Aussies are no different, with a favourite topic of discussion being whether we will ever have a homeboy raise the trophy on our home slam ever again.

It’s also a rife time to whinge and complain at how hard it is to play on clay when you just haven’t been brought up with it, and for Aussies, Americans and Brits to shut their eyes and take a nap until grass season starts.

But for those of us backing Aussie Sam, it’s been a lovely time and the winnage is just going to continue.

C’MON SAMMY!

3. Spaniards Rule (always). And even more, on Clay.

Watching the hottest guys in existence, play deep into tournaments week in, week out?

Yes please.

2. Quarante-Trent

Say anything in a French accent and it will sound tres chaud. Just try listening to the scoreline being called after Jeu, Set, et Match.

1. Rafa Nadal

The King of Clay deserves two entries.

Please let me see more of this in the next few weeks?

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Further moments of joyness, with some nailbiting thrown in

February 2, 2010

I think I was supposed to be inside RLA that day, watching Lleyton and Sammy do it for the Aussies. But Baghdaddy just put on too much of a great show. Let’s hear you sing it now… marco le ole.. Ah as if I can pretend I know the lyrics. M has made up her own fabulous version. I know one word is “parking lot”. The one I can guarantee to get right is Marcos Baghda-tis (clap clap clap clap). Awesome.

It’s worth the ground pass just to see those guys go.

Here’s Nole, before he had a sore tummy…

Our Lleyton, finishing off Donald Duck and shutting up the Americans behind us “dynamite goes tick tick tick” like summer camp all over again.

Fenja doing his best to make a glorious twilight tennis match boring – how? Lucky for MCA crowds.

Taylor and Jo Willie leaving little breathing space in Hiisense with all the testosteron-erone present.

The next set of matches gets its own post. You will see why momentarily.


Kooyong – The Spiritual Home

January 17, 2010

The Aus Open hasn’t even begun, but already we’ve had two glorious days of tennis that makes me think things can’t get much better than this.  Wednesday at Kooyong was the perfect day, and one which Colin Stubbs should be proud of – it’s a shame the rest of the tournament went a little unplanned. And today’s charity match at Rod Laver was beyond epic. It was the reason I follow this sport. It had every element – the funny bits, the human bits, the amazingly well played shots, and the incredible crowd camaraderie that you only get at the happy slam.

It started on Wednesday, day one at Kooyong. With a lineup of 80% top ten, we figured a day one trip meant the chance to see everyone play, even if it wasn’t at the ‘finals level’. Turns out we made a good decision, with all the withdrawals happening on day two.

As a newbie to Kooyong the exciting factor was all a bit much. First, I got excited because I realised how close to home it was. Then, I got excited with my free cardboard visor from the lovely people at AAMI. Then, I got excited because we were sitting so close to the court. Then some more excitement abounded when I hear Portuguese being spoken behind me and noticed no corporate insignia on the box – clearly we were hanging with Del Potro’s contingent (at this stage still not confirmed)! Then play started, and it was like January was only last week, not a full twelve months ago.

Well, I say that because the smell and taste and feel of being near a tennis court was still just as awesome. But you could tell a lot had happened since last January. Let’s start with the lovely Juan Martin, who strode out to the court with waves and cheers and loped out like the tall man he is. Aside from the US open final, which I had only listened to thanks to an unsympathetic employment situation, the last time I’d seen the man was in the quarters at Rod Laver, where Roger finished him off nicely in the late hours. Not many people stuck around for that match with my little RLA corporate tickets appropriation tactic doing nicely. But it had been a nice match to watch, very balletic on Roger’s part. Seeing Juan twelve months later, he’s come a long way baby. He was unapologetic finishing off Lubjcic, which was fine with our crew who were “sick of” old Ivan after seeing him a fair few years in a row at Kooyong. Each to their own. I was sick with excitement over the fact it wouldn’t be long before I got to view my beloved, Fernando Verdasco, in the flesh. The anxiety came and swirled around, I was like the girl going to Chadstone to queue up to see Taylor Hanson back in 1997.  We went through the motions for the next match. After all, it was time to see Novak, and my co-bloggers on C13 are pretty big fans of Mr Djokovic.

I decided to support Tommy though of course, being the classy lady I am, completely unimpressed with the level of German swearing coming from the south end of the court. Nole played fabulously and that was when M and I realised we would make fantastic careers as tennis commentators. Being that this blog was not in existence at the time, I can’t say I wrote down all the observations we would have loved to share with you… but hey, there’s always next time.

As a newbie to Kooyong, I was warned that come lunchtime, the corporates start getting noisier as the wine is being poured. I realised what was going on when halfway through Tsonga vs Soderling I heard an adamant, “Cash flow mate! It’s all about cash flow!” coming from the box behind me. Corporate entertaining at its best. I think I was still shaken from having been close enough to Fernando in the flesh. Top moment was when Gonzo hit the lineslady and ended up patting her on the end, Fenja hanging over the net shaking in laughter.

I left Kooyong wondering why on earth Aussies don’t come along to what is one of the best tennis days out. Sure, it hasn’t got the flashy excitement of the Open, but if you’re into your tennis, you can’t go wrong. Six out of eight are top 10, the tickets are a mere 30 bucks, parking aplenty, and you get way up close and personal. And for the little teenybopper inside me, I got me piccie with Novak, my autograph from Fernando, and I was happier than a tween at Jonas Brothers. Stay tuned for the accounts of the Kooyong veterans who might have more stories for you. Meanwhile – here are some of my pics. M will fill in with the rest from her talented lens.

Del Potro

When they say the guy is tall... he seriously is damn tall!

Novak Tommy

Novak and Tommy talking to the boys at SevenGonzo in action

Fenja

Up close and personal with The Fenja

Tsonga

Jo Willie and his French utterances


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