31 December 2011

ASB Classic - it's on!

My blog will be a bit silent during the next two weeks as I am living and breathing the ASB Classic and Heineken Open.

It's been a fantastic first few days here despite some appalling Auckland summer weather. The players have mostly been in good spirits and I've been able to speak to most of them top ones briefly and hope to be able to interview a fair few of them during the week.

We had a player dinner Friday night, and it was fun to see some of the ladies really dress up. Svetlana Kuznetsova was probably the biggest surprise as she was in a short, fitted dress and killer high heels. Sabine Lisicki also had on some dangerously high heels. Some of the players really went all out which was great considering it was a chilly, rainy night so I appreciated the effort.

Yesterday we had a 'meet the seeds' media event so all top eight seeds were onsite to speak with media. I was able to introduce myself to Svetlana Kuznetsova, Julia Goerges, Flavia Pennetta, Roberta Vinci and Monica Niculescu and took photos of all of them. I wasn't brave enough to ask many questions but instead chose for casual conversation. Total heaven for a tennis geek tho.

So far we haven't had much of a break from the weather gods as the first round of qualifying was played completely indoors. Today (Sunday 1 Jan) we got six of eight matches completed. For me the biggest story so far for qualies is the young Americans. It's possible that 3 of 4 qualifiers for the main draw will be Americans which is pretty exciting. Alison Riske, Coco Vandeweghe and either Jamie Hampton or Irina Falconi are into the final round of the qualies tourney so will be interesting to see how they do tomorrow.

Today, qualies top seed Anne Keothavong won as did Czech Karolina Pliskova who was impressing the fans who braved the weather to come onsite. Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, all of 18 years old, also looked pretty sharp in her win.

Tomorrow's main draw matches include Christina McHale, Flavia Pennetta, Sabine Lisicki and Jelena Dokic. We've also got doubles action including Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina and reigning French Open champs Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka.

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