The Other Side of Town: Practice Pics, Day 1

January 18, 2011

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:

Milos Raonic

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.

Victoria Azarenka

This portion is proudly brought to you by “Silence the Haters” association.

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.



He’s back.

I cried.


Your job is easier

January 18, 2011

Like any good exho featuring the hilarious antics of Andy Roddick (I’m actually being serious), there comes the predictable umpire/linesman ribbing, and today was no exception. Andy was insistent on proving that the linesman’s job is easier, and even had him come up and serve for us.

Between tennis players posing as catwalk models (Caro), in the photographer’s pit (Nole and Rafa), calling lines (Vika and Andy), playing soccer (Nole and Muzza), being a proud father (oh wait… that’s Lleyton), and even baseball (Andy), the guys tried to prove to us again and again that they’re good for anything but playing tennis.

But we know the truth, sez we. You kids are tennis players, and here’s the Class of 2011 picture. Stop giggling.

Rally for Relief Stars

Like any good wedding photographer, I did the bit where you zoom in bit by bit.


Courier, Lleyton, Rafter, Murray, Ivanovic

Courier’s sad because he’s not with his best mate “Rog”. Why does he call him that?

Vera, Caro, Rafa, Andy Roddick, Kim

Ah, the racquet clutch. Perfect defensive position without looking too “arms-crossed” in an awkward situation. Like when you and your numerous “classmates” are forced to lineup for a cheesy pic. Why clasp each other’s stomachs and kiss on cheek politely if you can’t even put an arm around for a photo op?

Roddick, Clijsters, Henin, Federer, Stosur

Obviously, Roger has the friendly arm-wrap down. Dammit. He’s touching Sam. HE’S TOUCHING MY GIRL!

Tennis stars at Rally for Relief

the family all together

Looking gorgeous and playing gorgeous tennis vs looking at gorgeous pictures? My job is easiest.

Rally for Relief: Part 2

January 17, 2011

You can’t have too much of a good thing… So here’s the second lot of pictures and storytales from today’s epically awesome piece of tennis joy.

Let’s start with the favourite snap of the day, of which I may or may not have several more in the arsenal:

Analysis from US Weekly’s Body Language Experts….

Moments before the shot of the tournament, pretty much:

Let’s just say shutter speed is not my strong suit.


I believe the boys just hugged. Wooooooooot. Wait, you mean you haven’t seen that pic? Gasp.

The two Andys, being awesome. Muzz, being kinda funny. Everyone, playing tweeners. Because they can.

Ana: “Okay, so can we discuss the tactics in Serbian?” About to pull another muscle, not in her abs…

As expected, the Andy footfault reference.

Vera being funny. Who woulda thunk it?

Run, child, run ,far far away.

Paty recreating ancient days of school sunhats in the playground.

Lleyton being a dad.

Justine getting all clucky. Like a real person.

Caro making kids cry. Mirka unimpressed.

Nole in the photographer’s pit…

Andy manipulating the net. I can’t get past the hat and sunglasses.

Nole doing the polite thing and kissing the umpire. Um, Jim Courier, the umpire.



You will now be charged two bucks for the above picture of Hewitt children.

Pictures: @rishegee (that’s me). I know they’re fuzzy, but do me a favour and link me/ask me. Gracias.


Tennis is the best, chuck out the rest.

January 17, 2011

Rally for Relief was basically a portrayal of all that is awesome in our sport.

Par example:

It started with Johanna Griggs, who waited patiently for all the kids to be quiet. The announcement for each tennis player came with plenty of cheers, but we were sad to see the Rafa and Roger announcement in one breath. Did that mean that the cheers for Rafa really went to Roger? A conundrum.

The kids made their entrances, and we kept our eyes peeled for awkward exchanges. None of the same standard as Lleyton/Kim last year, sadly.

Ana strolled on in her purple ensemble, complete with sexy capelet.


Ana and her capelet, ready for her ride to the ball.

“You! What are you  doing here?”

To be joined by Nole, who clearly had sympathy of those of us who missed Hopman and treated us to a peek of the mixed doubles awesomeness.


A man among boys… ahem… girls. Watch me strut.

Then a mini Justin Bieber that none of us had heard of sang the Aussie anthem, we blinked back tears, and Ms JG gave us a speech. Anna Bligh probably had the biggest cheer out of everyone to be announced – Rafa and Roger included.

Spotted: The Andys having chats. Vika and Vera pretending to be very engrossed in Julia Gillard’s speech.



The camera followed Nole around, who as per last year, was dumped with the ladies. Jim Courier, attempting to explain the scoring system, had everyone stumped. “Okay, you call the score,” was Novak’s compromise.

And in some weird alignment of the tennis gods, Nole and Justine were paired up. Strange is not even the word. “Justine, make a winner,” was Nole’s tactical suggestion.

Apparently Pat was ringing in for some extra help.

Classic moment of the day. Nole playing drink in hand, lying on the floor.

Not sure what’s going on there. Do you?

Nole’s specially-procured towel, courtesy of the camera.

Wardrobe malfunction, Ana Ivanovic.

Get girlie with Caro, then.

Andy Roddick. Serving. Because that’s what he does.

Nole and Lleyton. This was NOT one of the epic chest bumps of the day.

Justine feeling like the uncool kid at school. I could’ve sworn she missed a shot and Nole looked at her and mimicked the way she should’ve swung. Coach Novak? Methinks so.

And the classic line of the day: “Novak, get behind me.”

Part 2 to come.

Photos: @rishegee. Please don’t reproduce without asking/linking me like nice people that you are. 🙂

Can You See Anything From the Back Row of the Australian Open?

December 22, 2010

Yesterday, this was one of my search engine terms:

And my heart just went out for the poor soul who typed that into a search engine and came across, of all expert webpages, my humble little site.

So let me honour this lovely visitor by divulging everything there is to know about attending AO, and let quell his/her fears in one word: YES.

Yes, you can see from the back row in the Australian Open. Yes, you can see from pretty much anywhere you get seats, even the nosebleeds. Excepting Hiisense (not a favourite of mine, with a few awkward spots blocked by railings and whatnot), you are basically guaranteed a great view wherever you sit.

Don’t believe me? Allow me to show you:
Australia Day at the Australian Open 2009

That, dear friends, is the view we had from the corner of Rod Laver Arena on Australia Day, 2009. It was retirement day; when first Vika Azarenka decided to get sick halfway through kicking Serena’s ass (even extracting some profanity, we love a code violation from Alison Lang); then La Monfils couldn’t make it past bestie Simon due to a bum wrist. The final match of the day was Nadal/Gonzales, and there’s nothing a like bit of “chi chi chi, le le le” to make the nosebleeds feel as good as the box. Honestly, we saw great, and I just want to tell this lovely visitor of mine that he/she is in for a fabulous time. In fact, we were next to a little camera in that back corner, and from then on any shot on TV reminded us that it was coming from “Our Camera!”

So do yourself a favour and get over there. Or have I not explained myself clearly enough?

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