Team VA's Wonderings

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Allez Monfils

I'm going senile. There were 2 things that I wanted to put in last night's post that I only remembered as I walked to a rainy Melbourne Park this morning. After all the singles actions, I had a walk through the outside courts for a spot of evening doubles. Found a totally random ladies doubles match, involving 4 players I’d never heard of and settled in. Good stuff it was too and a reminder that there’s a lot more to this than the show courts. I shall do my best to follow the winning Russian/American combination. It was also cool to see the players wander off court, into the public walkways and make their dinner plans. I think the tv effects mikes are responsible for much of the Sharapova grunting debate.

By the way, today is day 5. Play has been suspended on 3 of those days-twice for rain and once for extreme heat. Just as well the rooves on Vodafone and Rod Laver makes those courts all-weather, while the lights make them all-hours.

For the record:
Novak Djokovic bt Danai Udomchoke 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-1
Even when Darren Clarke's match involves one of his big mates, I've not seen sport played in such good spirit. When Udomchoke put away the volley that won the best point I've seen, Djokovic ran to the net to high five him. There was a lot of respect and fun out there.

Twice, Djokovic led by a break in the third and he served for the match. Afterwards he showed what a top bloke he was. Here's the guy who caught the racket he threw in the crowd.

In his post match interview, he thanked the big crowd for coming 'I guess you've only come because it's raining'. When asked how far he could go, 'I don't know if everyone knows, but is Federer next. I played him twice, he won. But it's OK I won a set!'. Shame his tournament is nearly over. He's a nice all court game, I'd look out for him at Wimbledon.

Amelie Mauresmo bt Eva Birnerova 6-3, 6-1. At 3-3, Eva had had the better of it; she was playing well, had had the only 2 break points and had won more points. I began to think this might be the first match where I saw a favourite lose and a winner I'd never heard of. I think Amelie heard me, cos once she broke serve, the can of whupass was open.

After beating Mauresmo here in the 99 final, Hingis unguardedly said 'it was like playing a man'. Words which seemed more unwise, as her opponent is a lesbian. What Hingis was saying is that Mauresmo is big and powerful (at a time before almost all the top women fitted that description).

There's a great deal more finesse and shotmaking in Mauresmo's game than that power would have you think. If she and Hingis can meet in a repeat of that '99 final, it should be a pleasure to watch.

Elena Dementieva bt Maria Elena Camerin 6-1, 6-3. One set of this was enough for me and I went to watch some doubles. The men's is too much testostorone for me, but Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama played some great stuff till I returned to the Vodafone. You get very close on the outside courts.

And get a view of the city.

Richard Gasquet bt Gael Monfils 6-0, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. By degrees topsy turvy and sublime. Monfils didn't looked interested for a set, but seemed spurred into action when someone shouted 'are you saving yourself for the second set'. At one point the score was a bizarre 6-0, 1-5; Monfils was marginally the more spectacular, Gasquet substantially the more consistent. Two more players with pleasing all-court games. From what I've seen (i.e. no Roddick), the brute force seems more a feature of the women's game. Perhaps this is the Federer effect on the men.

Straight out afterwards with Helen and Andrew for what became a messy night, where we met a bunch of random of Aussies, who we outlasted. Only one left by the time the camera emerged.

Vince Spadea update: because of the rain he's not been knocked out of the doubles yet, tho the number one seeds will get him packing his bags. I've not had a phone call, but I did get a 'what are you doing tonight text' and Niki joined some of the mayhem. As the psycho uber-Christian nerd (?Joseph?) in Road Trip puts it, 'they all come back in the end'.

Anyone who's enjoyed sport in my company will know I have many opinions on how spectating should be done. I felt bad yesterday leaving my seat for a set and I've missed the first 3 games (of the first set) for the last 2 days; I think this is poor form when there are so many people who'd love to be in my seat. I think it's disrespectful to leave your seat empty. However, I am a small time offender as half the reserved seats in the Vodafone are empty at any one time. These are seats where people have specifically paid to be here. Perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad on day’s without weather problems, when maybe there would be empty seats in the rock up and sit down section, but there was no play on any outside court today, so the Vodafone and Rod Laver were the only places where there was any play. There were people queued all the way down the stairs and out into the rain, poor sods. I think they should have let them in, get the place full. I am convinced that the corporates are to blame.

I also wonder why some people are here at all. My neighbour today needed a lot of explanations, including match points , break of serve and scoring. When she was reading the paper, I think one of the people in the rain would have got more out if it.

For the record
David Nalbandian vt Sebastien Grosjean 5-7, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-1 This was a superb match, which was billed as the clash of two fighters. When Nalbandian was serving to stay in match and was love 40 down, the Frenchman in front of me got his flag ready. After all, you don’t often lose with 3 match points. Well Grosjean did today. Straight sets would not have been a correct reflection of such a tight contest-when the tie break started, Grosjean lead by just 5 points (and 2 sets).

Because I couldn’t use my flash, I couldn’t fully get this, but you’ll get the idea. Check out the ball MAN

Aussie Kim bt Alona Bondarenko 6-3, 6-3
Another hour long training session for a top woman. Kim was so sweet in her post match interview, I could understand why they love her so much out here. Her support was magnificent and, for some reason beyond me, included some guys who kept chanting the tune to 7 nation army.

By this stage rain had meant all play on outside courts had been abandoned for the day. Originally Nikolay Davydenko’s match was scheduled, with James Blake to follow. I watched the first set and a half of the former game-he’s the world number 3, but it doesn’t grab you-maybe that’s why he has no clothing deal and looks like he shops at Matalan.

I was weary and had a feeling that the schedulers might try and get a bonus match on at Vodafone and I thought it would be Murray. By this stage the arena was far from full, so I didn’t feel bad about leaving my seat empty. I went for a walk to liven myself up and found that Murray was on after Blake. It would be at least 2 and a half hours. So I made a decision that only someone who’s staying 10 minutes away can-I went back to Helen’s, watched a movie and the Bill (which is hilarious-I didn’t know), while using the internet to keep an eye on what was happening on Vodafone (Blake and Davydenko both won in straight sets). Then I went back to Vodafone, arriving just as the match started.

Andy Murray bt Juan Ignacio Chela 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
I was momentarily concerned as I headed to the arena and wondered if they still admitted people at half 9, but it was fine. Once in, I saw they’d cleared one stand, but there were still a few thousand people there and a good (mainly Scottish) atmosphere. Chela put Murray out in the first round here a year ago. Maybe Chela was on top form then (he beat Hewitt in the next round) and was under par here (though he had already won 2 rounds); maybe Murray was under par a year ago. I think the way Murray dismantled Chela tonight shows how much he has improved in a year; I’m sure Brad Gilbert, who I watched nodding and clapping throughout the match (bit of illegal coaching?), would tell me that there’s much more to come. Murray was very impressive, he exuded control, won the big points and the match was over when he had another touch of the Henmans, losing serve twice in the third. It didn’t really matter, as by then he was breaking Chela at will. You probably know all this, as it was at a time when it could be nicely scheduled on UK TV.

It was also fun to be getting texts from those watching back in the UK; I reckon you’ll be able to watch again on Monday, as Murray vs Nadal has Rod Laver evening session written all over it. They’ve never played before. In his post match interview, he declared he had ‘no chance’. Then again, after the previous match he had installed Chela as favourite for tonight. Just 19 and already a master of deflecting the pressure of the favourite tag that all modern sportspeople seem so desperate to avoid.


  • is that a sneaky way of showing that you were actually in the presence of a lady of the female gender? Good work!

    Tennis sounds good. I've not watched any of it, sadly, although I have also luckily been able to avoid any cricket (Mal Loye? Seriously?)

    It's also nice to see that the Aussie Open t-shirt is in oranje too..... it's as if they knew you were coming!


    By Blogger swisslet, at 8:53 PM  

  • I'd forgotten how judgemental you are!

    As I came straight from Melbourne Park, this was the first time I had my camera on a night out-not that I got many photos.

    Due to the tennis, I too have avoided the cricket, wahey.

    Apparently there were other t-shirts, but I only had eyes for orange.

    By Blogger Poll Star, at 12:23 AM  

  • you'd forgotten I was judgmental? Where have you been?

    By Blogger swisslet, at 10:21 PM  

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