Team VA's Wonderings

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Martina, Maria and our Andy

Today's my last day here with a ground pass-I have reserved seats from now on. As the Vodafone arena today has Andy Murray, Martina Hingis and Maria Sharapova, I made sure I arrived early for a first come, first served seat (very nice it is too). Unlike yesterday, there's not a seat to be had with 10 minutes to go. Just for good measure, I think the home support for Alicia Molik will be raucous.

They had a lot more songs than their cricketing counterparts and were a lot more fun than the Barmy Army. I very much enjoyed the slow motion Mexican wave.

I'm not sure what's on Rod Laver today, but Agassi's retired and Federer's not playing, so it can't be as good.

For the record:
Martina Hingis vs Alla Kudrayautse
I really like Hingis and I think her comeback was the great lost sport story of last year. She's not tall, she's no meathead and she doesn't hit the living crap out of the ball. She caresses the ball and outsmarts her opponents. It's a triumph for skill and brains over mere natural physical gifts. It's inspiring for anyone who's not got the physique of an Amazonian. She's one of the players-along with Federer and Murray that I really wanted to see.

I'm happy to say she was a pleasure to watch-even her ball toss is graceful and precise. Hingis won 6-2, 6-2 and only lost the 2 second set games, when her brain was already back in the locker room.

I particularly enjoyed one of those moments you only catch when you’re there for the live stuff. Her opponent dropped a lob short of the net, but it bounced over and Hingis caught the ball and wandered back to serve. One of the things that Andre Agassi has left with most players is the need to examine 3 balls before serving, then discarding one; presumably so you get to serve with the very fastest ball. Yesterday I saw one player examine 5 before one serve (they’re only using 6). None of that nonsense for Hingis, she just served with the ball in her hand; I liked that in the same way as I liked seeing Shane Warne carrying his own bag.

Alicia Molik bt Kaia Kanepi 1-6, 6-3, 6-2. Good atmosphere, not the great game a lot of the crowd thought it was. Very bish, bash, bosh, hope it goes in. Hingis would have seen both off easily.

Andy Murray bt Fernando Vedasco 7-6, 7-5, 6-4. The match didn't really come alive till Murray was serving with 3 match points-he won it on the 5th. That said he hits some unbelievable shots and, crucially, plays the big points well. That said, he had a touch of the Henmans-dropping serve when 2 breaks up in the 3rd, as well as needing all those match points. Played in a great spirit-both players applauding their opponent's good play on numerous occasions. Murray thanked the support afterwards

Maria Sharapova vs Anastacia Rodionova
So, how loud is she in the flesh? Will I make it to the end of the match?

She's bloody tall.

Mismatches need more than this to interest me, although this was 6-0, 6-3 the 3 games all came when the contest was well over. Given that Sharapova was making about 2 unforced errors a game, it may come as no surprise that her opponent hit only 2 winners. I stopped noticing the grunting after a while, but maybe the volume was down as the effort was minimal. Given the nature of her play, it was even difficult to judge how well Sharapova was playing.

Patriotism to one side, seeing Hingis was the highlight of the day. Hope to catch her again. Maybe in the final………

Oh, and here’s the view from Helen’s apartment at sunset (camera sunset mode didn’t really do this justice), but still

(I'm not sure if you can really tell, but that's Rod Laver arena to the right of the MCG)

Don’t tell Helen, but I may never leave


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