04 November 2012

My 2012 tennis dreams: 33 days of glory

This tennis addict had another amazing year, watching 33 days of live tennis! There was no calendar fan slam but I made it to two slams and actually worked in some way at four of the five tourneys I attended. Not bad at all.

Here is a look back at my 2012 tennis adventures:
  1. ASB Classic - 7 days
  2. Heineken Open - 7 days
  3. Australian Open - 7 days
  4. Western and Southern Open - 7 days
  5. US Open - 5 days
Got sunburned, but had a great position for a Rafa practice!
Favourite tournament: Australian Open.
I've written about how much I love the Australian Open, and nothing changed this year, my fifth visit to the tournament since 2000. It's always great to go back to tourneys you're familiar with as I've certainly learned the ropes to getting the most out of this slam. I so highly rate the tennis fans, food, weather, location, etc. And player accessibility with practices is great (other than the crazy crowds when watching Rafa or Fed). I will so miss going back to Melbourne in 2013.

Best match: In one of my all-time favourite courts, the Grandstand at the US Open, I saw Marion Bartoli just get into a crazy zone against Petra Kvitova. I find Marion just fascinating, and she is so intense when she plays. After badly losing the first set Marion just turned it on and ended up bageling Petra, who only won seven points in the third set. It was just awesome to see. I had media access at the US Open and I was seated right by Amelie Mauresmo, the new French Fed Cup captain. After many points, Marion would stare intently at Momo while fist pumping. It was so cool to be that close to the action and the crowd was loving how well Marion was playing. Good stuff.

Bartoli zoned in beating Kvitova at the US Open


Best match (runner up): Being a huge Venus Williams fan, I got to see her play in a few great matches this year. Even tho she lost to Angelique Kerber at the US Open and didn't really play superbly well, it was still amazing to be in Arthur Ashe Stadium for this match. Late night in NYC with a legendary American playing. It was hard not to enjoy this match. Venus had the break in the third set but ended up losing 7-5 in the final set. It hurt, but still was an amazing night.


Best doubles matches: Bryan Brothers, Cincy
I have seen a lot of doubles matches and other than Davis Cup final, I've never seen so much support for a team like the Bryan Brothers got in Cincinnati this year. Wow. Yes it was right after the London Olympics but the crowd LOVED the Bryans. It was wonderful to witness.

Most painful match: Li Na vs Kim Clijsters, Australian Open
Wow this one hurt me so much. I love Li Na, and don't love Kim. Li Na had the match, with four match points in the second set tiebreak. And she lost. As soon as that tiebreak was over I knew the match was too so I bailed to a safe place inside Hisense Arena where I could recharge my phone and drink beer.


My office at the 2012 ASB Classic and Heineken Open

A shout out to Auckland:

The ASB Classic is a small tournament and is near and dear to my heart as until March 2012, I had spent the past eight years living in New Zealand. I'm still the social media manager for the two pro tourneys there and this year the ASB Classic saw a few of the biggest surprises on the WTA this year: Sara Errani and Angelique Kerber.

Errani took out 2010 champ and 2011 runner-up Yanina Wickmayer before losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova, but she was still so impressive. Her fight was clear despite her small stature. And Angelique Kerber was battling top seed Sabine Lisicki when the former had to retire with an injury but Kerber made the semis before losing meekly to Flavia Pennetta in the semis. It's been amazing to follow Errani and Kerber this year as they moved up the rankings and made noise. Kerber ended up being one of a few people who beat Serena Williams this year, and she made a number of fans at the WTA Championships with hugely memorable matches against Victoria Azarenka and Aga Radwanska. Errani ended up making the French Open final, winning 3 or 4 tourneys and became part of the #1 doubles team. Hugely impressive year ladies.


Other highs and lows: 

Venus was all smiles after her first win in Cincy
  1. Biggest letdown: Juan Martin Del Potro vs Novak Djokovic, Cincy.
    The Delpo/Nole Cincy semifinal was just a non-event. Novak was just too tough. It was a bummer for this Delpo fan. But it meant I could live with leaving before the finals (14-hour drive home awaited me).
  2. My fave doubles team of the year: Sveta and Bepa. They won the Aussie Open doubles title - hard to believe after their 2012 disappointments but yes they won a slam! Ah I have fond memories of watching them, and watching Sveta basically try to hit every ball. Well, it worked!
  3. Fave matchup between two of my faves:

    Rafa vs Tommy Haas, Australian Open
    This was a great match, and tho it was straight sets it was close. I think most of the crowd loved both these guys and had no idea if they'd ever see Tommy play again. Of course, now the old man is back inside the top 25!
  4. Saddest withdrawals: Rafa from Cincy and the US Open
    I had a week's worth of tickets to Cincy and looked forward to seeing all my faves. Nah, Rafa pulled out. My mom was especially sad and I thought we probably wouldn't see him in NYC. I had media credentials to both tournaments and missed two chances to be in a press conference with Rafa. Maybe next year?
  5. Most bittersweet victory: Roddick def Tomic, US Open
    Oh, his last match couldn't be a loss to Bernard Tomic. And it wasn't. I got to watch Andy win his first post-retirement announcement match and then attended his press conference afterward. Brooklyn Decker actually sat a few seats away from me and a few other family and friends of Andy's were in that presser too. It was a lovely moment, but sad as well. I'm so lucky I was able to be there to appreciate Andy before it was all over.
  6. Oddest crowd reaction: Hisense Arena's booing of Tomas Berdych
    After the painful Li Na/Clijsters match, I sat inside Hisense Arena to beat the heat and charge my phone. All of a sudden I heard the craziest booing and noise - it sounded like a protest was taking place right above my head. I soon learned it was the crowd booing Tomas Berdych because he didn't shake Nicolas Almagro's hand after beating the Spaniard. Nico had hit Tomas with a shot during the match, and Tomas took issue. I have never heard such crazy booing, and seriously just for that? I have only ever watched one day of tennis in Hisense (
    but I picked a good one!) but I've heard the crowds are a little less civilized than those in Rod Laver Arena...
  7. Best match up of the old guard: Ferrer vs Hewitt, US Open
    Lleyton Hewitt doesn't give up. His prime was 10 years ago, he's a father of three and he's certainly got money in the bank. But there he was, out on Louis Armstrong Arena taking on world #5 David Ferrer. It was hard telling how Lleyton's body would hold up but for the first few sets the crowd got what it wanted - a wonderful battle! These two fought so hard, with so many huge rallies. It wasn't always the prettiest tennis but it had drama and some great shot-making and defense. A+ boys!
  8. Strangest match circumstances: Li Na vs Laura Robson, US Open
    Fire! Luckily it didn't stop play at the US Open

    It was a hot day, and all of a sudden dark smoke was billowing into the air near Louis Armstrong Arena. I was trying to find out what was happening - I believe I finally heard it was a fire at a nearby garage. It was rather crazy to see all this smoke but luckily it passed relatively quickly. Actually  given that Li Na was upset by the British teen maybe a smoke interruption would have been a good thing...
  9. Short and sweet: Serena Williams
    I saw Serena play two slam matches this year. In Melbourne, she beat Greta Arn 6-1 6-1 and in NYC I saw her double bagel Andrea Hlavackova. Serena is by far my #1 and I loved seeing her win but certainly would have enjoyed her a bit longer in these matches. I saw her play in her two wins in Cincy, but when I saw how her match vs Kerber was going I finished watching that one in the media room. Slam Serena was a bit more fun, tho over far too quickly.
  10. Venus - the epitome of highs and lows.
    Venus broke my heart when she pulled out of the ASB Classic in late 2011. It was made worse by the fact I work for the tournament and had to deal with the fallout but I knew she just wasn't ready to come back after her health issues. Then what a roller coaster year she had - some wonderful wins and some sad losses (that Wimbledon match. Oh. I wanted to kill the TV crew for following her back to the locker room).  Then, after her gold medal trip to the Olympics she played in Cincy and I was able to see a post-gold medal Venus. I nearly teared up during her first press conference in Cincinnati. She was so happy and was on a total high from realizing another Olympic dream. It was amazing to witness. Venus' smile lit up the entire room.