The first Friday at the Australian Open saw the start of the night sessions on Hisense Arena. The line up for our day and night session tickets was pretty good but we tried to pace ourselves a little as the heat zaps you somewhat and its surprisingly intense watching so much tennis. We were hoping for a roof closing but that didn’t happen until much later in the day and that was due to a sudden downpour of rain mid match.
Our long day began with a gym session to reenergize ourselves followed by the one mile trot to the arena to grab our lunch and head to our seats. We got to the stadium just as Li Na pulled off a rather spectacular victory having lost the first set and down a break in the second.
Closing the day session was Berdych against Damir Dzumhur, a 21 year old qualifier who became the first player from Bosnia and Herzegovina to ever play at the Australian Open. Damir had brought a large following with him who were very lively with their flags and chants but nothing in comparison to the Australian fans when they get going for their players. Sadly the arena security felt it very necessary to surround the fans with their people in yellow vests which drew comments from the locals sitting behind us as to the shame of the situation. Damir put up a fantastic fight with some great play and a really positive attitude and even got a kind of complement from Berdych in the post match interview, even if he couldn’t remember his opponents name (and Berdych wonders why he doesn’t have a great following?!?)
With a break of an hour or so before the night session began we headed to the food court to have a nutritious dinner of nuts, chocolate, beer and cocktails (sorry trainers) and to buy the very necessary Aussie open towels for when we next play tennis.
The night session began with a mens third round match between No 9 seed Richard Gasquet and No 17 seed Tommy Robredo. Tommy’s players box (a few seats along from ours) garnered a lot of attention due to the arrival of Tommy’s trainer and his girlfriend, Martina Hingis. Gasquet’s box was not featured on the big screen that often despite having Guy Forget’s support.
Gasquet dominated the first set and we thought we were in for a quick match but the heavens opened unexpectedly and after the rain delay he just didn’t seem the same guy. We also cannot believe how OCD he is with all his rituals, here are a few we noticed – he wants to use the same balls if he wins the point, lectures the ball boys and girls on how and when he wants his towel handed to him, touches the four points of lines when waiting to receive, will not walk on the lines, kept having his racket sent to be restrung, had balls given to him then immediately returned them to another ball boy or girl – it was exhausting watching him. He also appears to have a bit of a temper as he was not that friendly to the ball boys and girls. Possibly for these reasons we found ourselves rooting for Tommy who was throwing himself all over the court to get the win. The mega match went on for 3 hours 9 minutes and Tommy got the win so we were very happy.
The match we were really waiting to see was next, a men’s doubles with the Bryan brothers taking on the Brit Jonathan Marrey and his Australian partner Paul Hanley. Hanley is a great poacher at the net and Marrey has lovely placement of his balls but the Bryan’s are just so good and took the first set with just one break of serve then the second set on a tiebreak. David saved me from getting a ball right in the face thanks to a fierce ball struck by the Bryan’s (should have been on tv for that one)
As it was now Saturday morning a good deal of the crowd left during the doubles. Walking the mile back to our hotel around 12.30am we were rewarded with the much talked about cold front although the air had a distinct smokey odor and we speculated that this was why they had kept the roof closed for the doubles. The Melbourne heat wave has brought some major bush fires to the surrounding areas that are making headlines here. Hoping that the weather remains a little cooler for our last day of matches on Saturday as we get to see Andy Murray in action again.