26 March 2012

Beijing Olympics memories - August 14, 2008

Waiting out a rain delay on center court
















Rain, upsets and disappointment - that was my Olympic tennis day on August 14, 2008. The quarterfinal day was meant to get started in late afternoon, but a lengthy rain delay is all fans were treated to for hours. I believe the 4pm session got started around 7pm - it was hard work. The center court wasn't entirely covered, but we sat for hours hoping for action. The center court matches were Rafa/Melzer and Federer/Blake then Venus vs Li Na and court 1 was Serena and Elena Dementieva.

When we finally got live tennis, I remember watching just a bit of Federer/Blake and then I ran off to watch Serena and Elena. I was/am a huge Serena fan and she was cruising a set and 4-2 up and it looked like she was on her way to the medal rounds in singles. And then all of a sudden she lost 9 games in a row I believe and lost in three sets. The few times I loudly cheered for Serena, I was on the receiving end of some mighty unfriendly glares by Chinese fans around me (either they didn't like the sound of my voice, or they really wanted the pretty blonde to win).

As I said before, this was a challenging day - rain delay, then I had to watch Serena self-combust so I was very bummed when I found out that Blake upset Federer and I missed seeing it!.I loved Blake and never loved Federer so to have seen that upset would have been amazing. Ah well.



Venus' match with Li Na was really insane. The crowd was insane. To be blunt, the Chinese audience at that time (maybe still) really didn't know how to watch tennis. They laughed when Venus caught her ball toss, clapped hard for faults and screamed out during play. At one stage, Li Na got so perturbed at the crowd she turned around and gave someone who'd called a ball out during play the evil eye. It was not Venus' night, tho she led 4-1 it was  not enough to beat Li Na and the crowd and she lost 7-5 7-5.

I still don't know why the organizers didn't start the session earlier given how backed up they were due to the rain delays but the 4pm start and three-hour delay meant live tennis was still going on at 1am. I went to an outer court to watch Serena and Venus play doubles against the Japanese team of Ai Sugiyama and Ayumi Morita. The court was very small and intimate and given the late (early?) hour there was a sparse crowd. Play had barely gotten underway when rain came again to end the night around 1.30am.

Some photos:



Serena with a lead, and then she'd start losing 9 straight games.


Blake taking on Federer


Rafa playing Melzer in the quarterfinals
Venus battling Li Na

What a crowd - 10,000+ screaming loud Chinese fans.




Very late night doubles action.



Outside view of center court

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