Friday, March 14, 2014

The 2014 Aussie Open

After missing last year's Australian Open due to travel I was pretty excited to return to our family tradition of Days 1 and 2 at Melbourne Park for as much Grand Slam tennis as we could all possibly squeeze in. Mum and I stayed down at The Blackman for a couple of nights, and my sisters came over on the Sunday night to plot out our days ahead - which involves studying the schedule, deciding on which games each of us want to see as priorities, and pick a court to meet at in the morning. This is a serious operation!

So my pick for the first morning was Court 7, and the battle between Finnish Nieminen and Israeli Sela. A great pick and start to almost 48 hours of live tennis! We gritted through the first 3 sets of this match, oscillating between who we thought would take it out - stunned to see the end result after 5 sets later in the day.

Whilst over at Court 7, we had kept our eye on the proceedings of the Women's match on Court 2, and managed to time our court switch over there to settle in for the start of Aussie Ebden take on Frenchman Mahut.

One of the newest features of the Open was the sight of the roof on Margaret Court Arena (MCA), and from here we could see nothing without the Buddhist-temple-like roof filling our view!

The Aussie crowd were very good and vocal, and really powered the local hope along, watching him grab the first 2 sets with all his might!

By this time we were well and truly melting in the heatwave that Melbourne weather put on for that first week, and rejoiced at the fact that we always get Centre Court tickets for these days. We abandoned one Aussie working his way to a Round 1 win to watch another - a long time favourite, Stosur.

This 2 sets match inside gave us a sun break, if not really a heat break, as inside was just as stifling as outside with very little breeze. This year the heat policy, which we have seen enacted before, was not put into play until later in the week.

With Stosur through, I then went to watch an old favourite of mine - all one and a half sets of Germany's Haas before he retired hurt, and said goodbye to Melbourne Park. I met up again with the girls for another old favourite of ours, Cypriot Baghdatis, inside the new look MCA. Always the battler, Marcos just couldn't get much right in this match, and we saw he fall out of the tournament in this match, in straight sets.

Back fresh for Day 2, we went straight to Court 2 for Japanese Nishikori taking on young Aussie hope Matosevic. Another 5-setter, we again plotted our timing for a switch to Centre Court out of the sun and heat, for the Federer and Aussie Duckworth match.

My hope for this Open had been to watch my new fav player on the circuit, Delpo, play, although the gamble of getting Centre Court rather than mixing it up with a Hisense day loomed as an obstacle. When the schedule for Day 2 was released, I was delighted to see the big Argentinian slotted for the MCA. I ducked away to see the start of this match, as Federer was performing his standard magic!

I made it back into Centre Court after the Delpo win, in time to watch Hewitt and Italian Seppi battle out the final throws of their 5 set match....with the Aussie just not clinching it in the end. From what I saw, looked like another epic game.

Spilling out into the air, as the temperature had dropped a little, we all found our way to the Heineken Bar area and settled in for some wine and beer, a short break from the tennis, and some music - we had watched Saskwatch the night before, and World's End Press were on this second night.

When the Night 2 schedule was announced over the weekend prior, we had decided that we would cave in and buy the additional session. The return of Nadal to Melbourne Park, taking on Aussie Tomic, was too good to miss.

Making our way in, we settled in for what promised to be a good match, as the air got cooler, and everything was more comfortable. Nadal looked fit and determined and took the first set without too much bother.

And then, it wasn't really clear from our seats, but Tomic then spoke to the umpire, shook the Spaniard's hand, and waved to the crowd. He got a bit of a muffled boo as the full house realised he was retiring hurt. Not quite what we had imagined as the ending to our massive two days of tennis and heat.

Man, I love the Aussie Open! We are so lucky here in Melbourne to have it, and for it to be so amazing each year! I also love the family tradition we have of going along and soaking it all in. So good!

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