05 March 2011

Day 5 at the Aussie Open: 21 January

Today's lineup on Rod Laver Arena was too good to pass so @annie_121 and I splashed out for tickets to both the day and night sessions. After three days of sitting in the hot Melbourne sun and racing to and from outer courts it felt great to know I had a seat in the shaded upper section of Rod Laver Arena. I was already very tan/burnt so it was fab to give my skin a break (and not sweat ALL DAY LONG!).

Sveta!
First up on RLA was the WTA's top player - Danish Caroline Wozniacki vs the woman who knocked her out of the warm up tourney in Sydney: Dominika Cibulkova. I had high hopes that Domi could challenge Caro in a similar fashion but I knew everything changes in the slams. The match was pretty snoozy but the next match was what Annie and I had paid the big bucks for: Svetlana Kuznetsova vs Justine Henin.

I love me some Sveta and can't stand Henin so I was really excited to see this one play out. I actually hadn't seen Henin play live before but I did see Sveta crash out of the ASB Classic in Auckland in January. I was hopeful Sveta could do it...and she did but not without making us sweat! Sveta is an incredible athlete but loses the plot regularly. But today, she was playing amazingly well, until she served for the match at 5-4 but of course was broken and the ladies ended up playing a super tense tiebreaker. Definitely glad I had a Heineken in hand. Sveta had two match points and then faced a set point before finally winning it 10-8. Happiness!

Sveta wins 6-4 7-6 over Henin
My fave moment of this match followed my first unpleasant encounter with a silly fan. When we first sat down in our seats I was hot - it's summer ya know? So I was using a paper fan to cool down and the woman in front of us turned around and looked at my fan, then at me and implied that I was disturbing her. Seriously lady? During Sveta's match I was starting to get vocal as the match got tighter, and also because everyone was rooting for Justine and I couldn't hear many cheers at all for Sveta. As the second set got quite tight I started to yell "Go Sveta!" quite loudly and grumpy pants in front of me turned around and really glared at me. I muttered something to her about people cheering for their favourite players at sporting events...

When I got back to NZ, I rewatched this match and was so pleased to discover my big scream was loud enough to be heard on TV. Proud.

Monfils
We skipped the next match - Federer vs Xavier Malisse - to get some real food in the city and returned for the night session. I was really excited to see Frenchman Gael Monfils for the first time - he's such a showman and I was keen to see him live vs Swiss Stan Wawrinka. My excitement went away quickly - this was the most boring tennis I'd seen in person. I don't know what Gael was trying to do but the number of long, bland rallies in the first set were torturous! It was like the players were getting paid per stroke - they patted at balls and did nothing to end the rallies. It was agony to watch so Annie and I gave up after the first set (which went to a tiebreak) and went outside for a break. We went back in during the third set when it seemed Stan was going to win. I was thoroughly disappointed by Monfils, and my mood was about to get worse.

Venus Willams was the second night match, and I was really nervous for this one. Venus suffered a horrible groin injury during her second round match. I was following that match on Twitter and everyone at the match said Venus was in agony and screaming in pain and they didn't understand why she kept going. But Venus had NEVER retired in a match with injury at a Grand Slam (and apparently not in any match in some 12 years) and she didn't want to quit. I knew she wasn't going to be in top shape for her 3rd round match with Andrea Petkovic but I hoped for the best.

Venus in her sparkly dress which didn't get much TV time
As soon as Venus took the court it was clear she was in pain. She limped onto the court and barely moved during the warm up. When they started the match, Venus served and didn't win a point - she wasn't moving at all. Only seven points into the match, Venus yelped in agony when she landed on her right leg and immediately walked to the chair to ask for the trainer. She sat in her chair, shaking her head. She would later say she wanted to come out and try her best and just hoped that adrenalin would kick in and she would be able to play. It didn't happen.

My night ended with tears. I was so sad for Venus who I've loved watching since she turned pro in 1994 and was gutted she was in such pain and had to quit. But what really set me off was the crowd's boos. I understand they were upset to miss out on a match but have some sympathy! I am sure a lot of people there had no idea the extent of Venus' injury and what she had to overcome to win her second round match. And Venus just does not quit so it's not like she has a habit of wimping out during matches. She was genuinely hurt and the crowd's reaction was just uncalled for. 



BTW - I continue to be a Williams jinx in Melbourne. Venus lost both times I've seen her play (2008 QF to Ivanovic and 2011 to Petko) and I was there when Serena lost to Jankovic at the 2008 Aussie Open (same day Vee lost to Ana). That was just a bad day all around in 2008, as S&V also lost doubles that day (and yes I was at that match).

1 comment:

  1. Hey Steph

    Enjoyed your adventures thus far, it must have been pretty awesome to watch so many matches, and to also get to see your favs practicing.

    Curt

    ReplyDelete