It pains me to move on from any Super Bowl references, especially in the light of 2 facts – 1) The enormous response to Tuesday’s piece on my Pats making the Super Bowl, and 2) I have a link to share featuring the all-time great Super Bowl ads!
I’ll save the link for a week or so and move on, but not before acknowledging Michael Clarke’s 210 and Ricky Ponting’s 221. Just a superb effort and series from those 2 stars, although this is reinforcing Craig’s position in his piece about the haggard state of India’s bowling attack!
Regardless, Happy Australia Day!
To the tennis!
It only occurred to me recently that I hadn’t blogged once about the tennis at this year’s Australian Open. I’m sure this isn’t life shattering news to either the reader or myself, but the tennis is actually a hugely enjoyable part of the Australian summer.
It’s to the point where I’m actually not sure what captures the public’s imagination more – this event or the cricket. (Although to be honest, they’re both probably superseded by the Boxing Day sales…! And in this city, everything is a long way away from the AFL…)
So without further ado, here are the best, worst, and best and worst things about having to miss the Australian Open! The last one will make sense when you get there.
The best things to miss
Grunting – I can’t tell you how much this bothers me, nor can I adequately explain why this is! Let’s just say I was thrilled beyond belief when I saw this week that there was an article addressing this phenomenon and that some fans had taken to mimicking the overt grunters.
I’m happy for anyone to try any-thing to shut them up. It’s unnecessary, borderline cheating (some players do it deliberately to drown out the sound of the ball hitting their racquet and therefore hide their slice, topspin etc) and is annoying as hell.
Plus, it’s easily resolved. Dock a player a point for excess grunting, squealing or wailing and watch it disappear immediately!
Time delays – I don’t know how many players on the tour suffer from OCD, but having read Andre Agassi’s book – best sports bio ever – I have to think it’s quite a few. Rubbing your face with a towel, bouncing the ball 13 times before serving (true story), adjusting … well, whatever ‘needs’ to be adjusted, the list goes on.
This is not cricket and you are not killing time waiting for the bowler to walk back to his mark – play the game already! Thank you, I feel much better now that’s off my chest…
The worst things to miss
Roger Federer – It’s going to be hard to write this without seeming, well … watch this clip and you’ll get what I mean.
I love Federer, the way he plays, the manner in which he dominates, his character, and his grace. I flew into Geneva recently and the first thing you notice in the airport is this massive billboard with him spruiking some watch. Fitting.
(Although it did take Mrs E a few minutes of, ‘What’s with all the watch ads?!’ before realising she was in Switzerland. Traveling in Europe will do that to you, as will being pregnant…)
Federer represents everything that is good about tennis and if you add the fact that Novak Djokovic and Nadal seem to have his number, it just makes the Federer story all the more compelling. He’s vulnerable now! Something he hasn’t been in a kajillion years.
Almost my favourite piece in these 8 months was the one getting stuck into the Melbourne Cup. Passed out bogans in suits make for easy targets, so I have to confess that if you spend a day at the tennis and it’s increased emphasis on the boozing experience, it’s leaning a little that way, just without the suits.
Still, if you’re there in person, and I’m not just meaning centre court, you are in for a cracking day! It’s a true international experience – there are people from, or representing, innumerable countries, the weather is (always!) hot and you have to be up close to the actual players to appreciate them. The speed, power and accuracy with which they hit has to be seen to be believed. And I’m not even talking about the top ranked players. Just avoid the Serbian and Croatian meatheads. You might get set alight with a flare, or, you know, hit with a chair … again.
The best and worst things to miss!
You know those people or events you can’t stand but you just can’t bring yourself to miss them?! Lebron James, the Oscars, Australia’s Funniest Home Videos…!? You watch, even though they frustrate you or let you down. Or maybe you watch in the hope that something awful or embarrassing will happen to them, like defeat…
Rafael Nadal – Damn you with your good looks, chiseled arms and broken English, which the chicks love! But now that you’ve starting owning Federer, this is personal!
Go back to just owning the clay court tournaments and let Roger win enough Grand Slams so that we never have to hear Pete Sampras’ name again – we’re bored just at him being mentioned…! (Blogger’s note – ironically, Nadal took out Federer later that night. Damn it! Now Rafa, do the right thing and take down Djokovic as well.)
Serena Williams – This is not a love hate relationship. Not one bit. It’s only one way. As I’ve said countless times, we’re talking about a nasty bully who once threatened to kill a lineswoman by shoving a ball down her throat. As Sam Stosur decimated her in the US Open Final, who’d she take her frustration out on? The ref, of course.
And in the aftermath of such incidents, when the water has cooled, does she take any responsibility for any of her actions? In the true spirit of over-pampered American sports stars, ‘Hell no!’ It’s always someone else’s fault, she flat out denies it – although the on-court microphones clearly picked up the dialogue she had threatening to kill the lineswoman – or she puts it down to her passion, which of course, she likes to remind us, ‘the fans love’.
I miss watching her in the hope that she gets beaten. I know that she won’t go down gracefully as she successfully endeavours to create another controversy to drown out the real story that she was outplayed. And that makes for compelling viewing.
The Aussies – Like all Australian sports fans, I miss Pat Rafter. For the most part, we’ve endured Lleyton Hewitt. Success will do that.
Sam Stosur is a legitimately likeable star who dominated Serena Williams just a few short months ago in the US Open Final on September 11 – the most intimidating of all venues and circumstances. Yet she’s struggled to make a 2nd round since.
And now we have new gun, Bernard Tomic, who we’re not quite sure what to make of yet. (Blogger’s note – I tried to be nice and then hours after I posted this, Tomic is in a standoff with police. I’ll go back to being honest. He’s a tool…)
Australians love supporting their local stars through the tournament. We just need a couple of wins and we are on board that bandwagon. Or, shame on you, have you forgotten Casey Dellacqua, the story of the 2010 event?? I thought so!
They are exhilarating and infuriating to watch. We just want an Aussie to win the tournament win here, is that too much to ask?! After 35 years, I should think not.
So there they are. A great tournament, a great city and a great set of stars. I’m not losing sleep over it, but I do miss it. How couldn’t you?!