Australian Open: Taking no prisoners

The Australian Open is one of my favourite sporting events of the year so I was lucky that day one’s temperature wasn’t too bad for me to enjoy the “day pass”.  And a lot of people seemed to agree, the huge line of people waiting for the gates to open at 10am was staggering to see. There was one difference for me this year, instead of riding the bike, I was persuaded, in the nicest possible way by the good wife, to take public transport because of the forecast temperatures.

I got myself a shaded spot on Show Court 3 and made that my base for the day. I was comfortable, but I did wonder how much hotter it would be on the court as Laura Robson (GB unseeded 46 in world rankings) and Kirsten Flipkens (Belgium seeds 18) commenced. Flipkens asserted her authority on the game very early and it wasn’t till mid way through the third game that Robson won her first point. That seemed to give her a lift and her game improved but not enough to trouble her opponent. What I really liked about these two, neither screamed or grunted as they played their shots. Women’s tennis in the old fashioned way. Flipkens too good for the Brit, she won 6-3 6-0 in under an hour.

Next game on Court 3 was Australian Casey Dellacqua (unseeded 125 in world rankings) taking on Vera Zvonareva (Russia unseeded 95 IWR). Vera was twice the size of the Australian and she had a fierce determined look about her, she was taking no prisoners!!!  Casey looked as though she had been picked up from a country tournament in Maffra or some other town to make up the numbers for the Open. It was getting pretty warm out there on the court but the Australian chased everything down and produced some great passing shots.  She was too consistent and had a great win, 6-2 6-2 in about 50 minutes, and no blood curdling noises from either player.

Two French players were next on Court 3, Richard Gasquet (seeded 9) and Q- David Guez (Unseeded 177 IWR)   Hopefully these two have been able to get used the our weather, it’s about 31c in the seats and a lot hotter on court, back in France it’s about 35c colder. Guez is in a green/black outfit, Gasquet is in white and black but before long their shirts are wet from perspiration and sticking to their backs. Both players use the ball boys/girls as personal valets requesting towels on a regular basis so they can dry their hands and faces. Both players hit the with precision and their fitness can not be questioned in the heat, but like the previous two matches, it’s the one who can stay in the rally longer who wins. Richard Gasquet wins in just under two hours 7-5 6-4 6-1.

It’s 4pm and its not getting any cooler as Tommy Hass (Germany seeded 12) takes on Guillermo Garcia-Lopez(Spain unseeded 58 IWR). The umpire talks to both players before the match and they seemed to take no notice of him until he tosses the coin.  God knows what he was saying, maybe he was telling them about the sightseeing joys of Melbourne.  What ever it was they weren’t interested. Tommy starts in great form, he obviously wants to get this match over early however Guillermo has different ideas. Maybe coming from Spain he likes playing outside on hot days. As the first set progresses the Spaniard lifts his game and the German becomes frustrated with his. Hass displays his displeasure with his performance on a few occasions and seems to lose momentum. Garcia-Lopez takes the first set 7-5. When the scores were 5-2 to the Spaniard in the second set Hass called it quits.  Maybe he did listen to the umpire and he was keen to take a trip on the Melbourne Wheel. No, I’m sure he had an injury, anything would be better than the Melbourne Wheel.

No more games on Court 3 so it was” brave the heat” and check out some of the other courts. On Court 20  Pablo Carreno- Busta (Spain unseeded 61IWR) was battling Julian Benneteau (France unseeded 35IWR) in front of about 50 spectators. What impressed me apart from their ability to hit a tennis ball in a way that I could only dream of, was the number of racquets they have with them. At a rough guess  I would say a dozen each. Gees, as a below average country tennis player I would be lucky if a got a new one every third or fourth year!!!!  Good luck to them though, it must be tough being on an international tennis circuit The Frenchman won in five 6-3 3-6 4-6 6-1 6-2. A tough day at the office.

Next I checked out Court 19 where two Spaniards were playing in front of about ten people including me. Albert Ramos(unseeded 85IWR)) was up against Pablo Andujar.(unseeded 48IWR) Once again, big hitting, power tennis and lots of spare racquets.You really get up close to the players on these outside courts and you can feel their pain, joy and determination. Pablo won in straight sets 6-4 6-2 6-4

It was then that i made my first mistake for the day. On Margaret Court at 7pm the Cypriot God  Marcos Baghdatis was playing. I joined a long line of Greek/Cypriots to see the match. After moving no where in the queue for over an hour and a half  it became apparent to me that no one was leaving the stadium so no one could get in.  I left the line at about 8.30 and wandered past Show Court 2 and watched a younger version of the Williams sisters Sachia Vickery(196IWR) get beaten by a fellow American Lauren Davey  (67IWR) 6-3 6-3.

Times change at the Open, when i first stated to go it was full of Swedish fans, I only saw one yesterday and he looked lonely, now there are lots of Serbs and Spaniards and a fair  smattering of Australians of course.

It’s a fantastic day of sport and I wouldn’t miss it for quids, be nice if it was a bit cooler though!


  1. I am envious Rod. Even with the heat.
    You have to see those players live to realise how superhuman the ‘average’ players are. The top players belong in another universe.
    “Kirsten Flipkens” is one of the great names. I always wanted to say “come here my little flipkens” but I think I have left my run 30 years too late.
    Thanks for the report.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Rod fantastic report and spot on Peter B you have to be at the tennis to really appreciate the power and athleticism . Aust tennis desperately needs a player to come thru to the upper echelon who we can all warm too like a Pat Rafter ASAP

  3. Rod, the Aussie Open is a wonderful event. I’ve been a couple of times. The ground pass is the ticket to get. The last few years I’ve gone to the AAMI Classic. Kooyong is a charming old stadium.

    I have one if my kids to thank for the tennis viewing. I was never really interested in it until he developed a liking for the game and asked to go to the Open one year. Now I quite enjoy it.

    Very nice report.

  4. We’re barely half-way into January, and I don’t think there’ll be a better story in sport this year than the Canadian Frank Dancevic claiming he saw Snoopy on court before collapsed mid-match.

    “I was dizzy from the middle of the first set and then I saw Snoopy and I thought, “Wow Snoopy, that’s weird”,’

  5. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Good stuff Rod. Have been with my daughter a few times and thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere.

    Litza, could have been worse. He could have seen Red Foo.

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