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.
When they say the guy is tall... he seriously is damn tall!
Novak and Tommy talking to the boys at SevenGonzo in action
Up close and personal with The Fenja
Jo Willie and his French utterances