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

February 8, 2011

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

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

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

It started with this:

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

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

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

By which time the party had begun.

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

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

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

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

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


What Ajde Looks Like

January 31, 2011

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

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

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

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

True story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was on fire.

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

The Ajde Army may have helped:

Particularly this handsome young man:

Or maybe this fine lady:

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

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

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


Grand Slam Gallivanting: Day 1, Part 1

January 18, 2011

And then I went to watch the kind of tennis where they actually write down what you do on these big thingys that blast the numbers out in lights and on chalk and on iPhone applications and scoreboards across computers everywhere. The kind of tennis called Grandslam tennis.

Turns out being day one, we were in for chockablocks, which as a tennis fan, is amazing because it means people are loving my sport. But as a tennis fan, it sucks for me because I want to see my boys, dammit!

Bypassed the showcourts and arenas, just missing out on Sammy Q’s epic fail against Kubot. With the hopes of America failing left, right and center (or courts 3, 5 and 7, to be precise) I skipped the flailing Fish and went straight for Ryan Harrison. I fell in love with my giant-sized Justin Bieber at his epic Grandstand match against Stakhovsky in the US Open, but was completely disappointed to see that Mr America had also imported a serious atitooood to Aussieland.

To be precise, whingeing about the wind. Comparing the conditions to winter in Florida. In a decidedly whingey tone that seemed to question why he bothered coming out to Australia at all.

Ryan Harrison

Because it’s a grand slam, dude.

Felt a tall shadow behind me and looked behind to see none other than my favourite wildcard and current top-rated Frenchie (in my all-important book, to be clear) Benoit Paire behind me. Figured I’d say hi but alas, the English was limited. The hotness? Not at all.

Benoit Paire

Meandering about next was when things really got interesting. Stopping by to see Xavier Malisse take on Pablo Andujar, I ducked around the corner to find a full-blown fight between some red-shirted Spaniards and security.

My humble understanding of the conversation I cheerfully eavesdropped included a situation where Xavier, unhappy with the Spanish noise-making, had motioned for these spectators to shut up. This was allegedly mid-point, although he had already won the point. Or something. Either way, the red-shirts were adamant that being that he talked to them, they had a right to talk back. And when he asked security to take them away, he should’ve first contacted the umpire. Props go to the lovely Aussie blokes who heard out the whole story and soothed them in that gorgeous Aussie way (beer cups in hand), along the lines of “Yep, but those are the rules… Yep.. I know it’s ridiculous… Happened to us too… but you gotta abide by the rules.”

I love my country.

With time to kill before the long awaited Serbian-army attack, I came to see Rebecca Marino, up-and-coming Canadian girl who was looking just lovely.

Rebecca Marino

And lunge-y.

Couldn’t decide where to go next, but luckily my decision was made for me as I contemplated the scoreboard:

Rainbow-suspender clad Kangaroos, playing the trumpet to the tune of “Tequila!” in Garden Square. Too good.

Waiting for entry between change of ends behind the lovely Pammy who was looking quite the frazzled Mom, I headed in to catch the end of the five-setter between Mardy Fish and Victor Hanescu on Show Court 3. I love our Aussie audiences. The same guys cheering “Victor, Victor” were also the ones clapping enthusiastically when Mardy won a point. Two young girls clutching plastic cups of Jacob’s Creek were enthusiastically cheering for Fishy, and over on the other side, we heard “Fishy, Fishy, Fishy, Oi Oi Oi!”

I settled in near Pammy and the Fish family. Pascal got into a few narrow scrapes, being in a huge show court without Hawkeye, and Victor switched on fire the moment a match point arrived.To quote the kids nearby, “This guy should just always play as if he was on matchpoint.” My three-game stint turned into a half hour ordeal as deuce after deuce rolled by, the Aussie kids cheered the ballboys “You’re the best roller I’ve ever seen, woooo”, and Mardy was – well, looking really svelte, if I must say. Tee hee hee.

And then Pammy ran – nay, sprinted – for her post-match interview. It was funny. I laughed.

Then I heard a thump and a thud. It was Nikolai Davydenko, falling down down down the rankings. Alas.

 


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