03 March 2011

Day three at the Aussie Open - 19 January

The famous forehand
I got Rafa's autograph!!! What more can I say about my second day at the Aussie Open this year. I still can't believe it really. I started my second day once again watching my main man practice. Rafa's practices are nuts. There are literally hundreds of people all trying to get the best positions for pics and autographs. I'm so lucky to be tall but it can be really difficult to get any decent photos and it takes heaps of patience.

After watching Rafa for about 15 minutes, I saw on Twitter that Venus was practicing on Court 17 which was on the complete opposite side of Melbourne Park. So I booked it over past Hisense Arena to watch Venus. I've seen Venus play quite a lot but the last time was 2008 Olympics (when she lost in the QF to Li Na) and it's so fabulous to be so up close to the players when they practice.

Bored Oracene
My favourite part of watching Venus was her mother, Oracene Price. This woman is hands down my favourite tennis parent since Karolj and Esther Seles. Between Venus and Serena can you imagine how many tennis matches this woman has watched? I love that she doesn't look worried or tense at matches - she usually looks bored which cracks me up. This is more or less how Oracene was during Venus' practice. She was almost falling asleep in her chair early on, then she ever so slowly got up and stood on the sidelines and quietly gave Venus some directions. But I did manage to snap a photo of Oracene yawning over the net at one stage. So funny.

Venus practices
I'm glad I got to see Venus play in practice, as later that day she badly hurt herself in her second-round match and when I did see her night match a few days later she'd only manage seven points before withdrawing. So sad for Venus. And I was really peeved with the crowd after her practice. It was a match day, so Venus was practicing a few hours before her match. Players have routines and I am a big believer in respecting them. When Venus finished, she chose not to walk to the other side of the court to sign autographs which is her prerogative. But people booed her for not coming over - I thought this was totally uncalled for. On an off match day I am sure Venus may have indulged the fans but not a few hours before her match.

Well hello six pack.
I had heard Rafa was still practicing so I went back to try my luck in getting an autograph and I timed it well as he was just wrapping up. Once it was clear Rafa was finished, he sat in his chair for what seemed like 1/2 hour before he got up to sign autographs for fans. Finally Rafa got up and started signing things while I took dozens of photos. All the photos I took when Rafa was standing up signing autographs barely had Rafa in them - I got part of his hair, part of some dude's head, random arms.
I wish I actually was this close!

But I did get this one of Rafa's pretty face up close. And then some stupid girl grabbed Rafa and really pissed him off. Seriously people, you piss off the players and you'll ruin it for everyone!

I got so lucky though that after this Rafa came back toward me and I just stretched my arm out over some dude's shoulder and shoved my programme in Rafa's path. And I got his autograph! I wish I could say I was face to face with Rafa but I didn't get my chance today.
Come back Juan Martin!
The rest of the day just paled in comparison to my exciting start. I watched Mardy Fish lose to Tommy Robredo - I really like Mardy but love that Tommy is having a nice run of it after a few dismal years (and he would go on to take a set off Mr Federer). I was superbly excited to catch a glimpse of the man JMDP (Juan Martin Del Potro for those unfamiliar with tennis nicknames) as he walked to a practice court.  I just love how accessible the players are during the first week of a Grand Slam.

Today was the first day I met the lovely @Rosie_Emma45 and she made sure I went to see her fave Andrea Petkovic play at the night session. We had great seats and despite my interest in watching 'Petko' play British Anne Keothavong it got so cold I had to leave. Lesson learned for the rest of my days at the Aussie Open -bring jeans as it can get cold at night.

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