Day one of the Australian Open. No more pretending. Usually Day One arrives and we race onto the premises like thirsty men gasping for water, after a tennis-deprived year. Come today, it was all of a sudden a lot simpler. A week of rain-drenched qualification rounds, a heritage session at Kooyong and an epic tennisgasm at Rally for Relief, and all of a sudden it didn’t seem so strange to waltz toward Melbourne Park at 2pm instead of the recommended 11am.
It’s amazing how much more Grand Slam watching is possible when not actually at a Grand Slam. So this morning, instead of racing between courts and beginning the inevitable descent towards Grand Slam Battery Drain TM, I sipped my coffee, caught up on my life, and watched split screens with IBM Slamtracker and several streams.
2pm, on the premises. Sauntering through the Hiisense gate. Apparently, people still haven’t figured out that it’s okay – actually, recommended – to enter through the gate at Hiisense even with a ground pass. The lines are much shorter, you walk straight indoors, and most importantly – you get to substitute the long, boring (except for the cool bits when you get to play “Recognise the Herald Sun sports editor” on their way back to the train) walk along Olympic Boulevard with a stroll through Grand Slam oval to get from Hiisense and Courts 16-22 to the bulls’ eye, Rod Laver, MCA and the rest of the gorgeous plexicushion surfaces of blue.
Being in the Hiisense neighbourhood also affords you the opportunity to visit an area I often neglect in my Australian Open visits – the hallowed practice courts of Courts 16, 17 and I believe 19. These babies are all the way on the other side of town, but they’re way juicy. The big guys practice there all day long, and you’re often bound to catch a glimpse of Rafa, Roger, Nole or Andy.
Or no one. For precisely 40 minutes today, while I twiddled my thumbs anxiously alongside Mrs Tipsy and a Serbian tennis-related person (best description ever), L constantly ran out to Court 16 to “see who was out there.”
Turns out no-one, except for a swelling crowd… waiting… and waiting. Staring at an empty court.
Lucky we got in early and had the chance to check out these guys in practice:
So I went to this practice session thinking it was Dmitrov, and had this post written up that it was him. Turned out I kept my eye on the right guy, because this kid ended up making it through the tournament doing something good, but honestly, I’m horrible at recognition. I just like to pretend I got there first and discovered him while he was fresh. As us tennis fans are wont to do. Thanks to @naughtyT and @grassisforcows for recognising the error of my ways.
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Vika is awesome. She’s gorgeous, she’s funny, she’s sweet, and she’s wearing a lovely pink kit this tourny.
And she was hitting the shit out of that ball. That’s my tennis insight for the day.
With my little practice perve done, I was ready to mosey through the new, bigger and better Grand Slam oval – a great place to take the kids and family, actually – and join civilization on the other side.
Where I promptly encountered this gentleman, to find my heart skipping a beat (or about seventeen beats) and my eyes fill with tears. Sorry, fangirl alert.
J TO THE M TO D TO THE P