I began writing this blog and within 30 minutes, I had already accumulated 4 pages, speaking little about the match and more about the conditions we had to play under. I will try to condense it and maybe, you can all buy the book I am writing, later on.
After my first trip to India, which left me aghast and open mouthed, I realized my second visit would probably cause the same reaction. This time, I managed to talk another good friend in to traveling with me, little did she know what she was getting herself in to and after the experience, I am not sure she will listen to my opinion ever again. We landed late in Kolkata at 11pm and were greeted by the usual sounds and smells; sewage, sweat and car horns blaring. Thankfully, we were met by three Indian men, all varying in sizes, making me feel as though I was in a Benny Hill sketch. We pile into the SUV, 3 of us in the back and the 3 Indian men in the front, one balancing precariously on the gear stick. After travelling plenty of times, in countries without any rules of the road, I have become accustomed to dealing with dare devil drivers and this time, we were certainly not disappointed.
We careened through the quiet, dusty streets of Kolkata, dodging potholes, cars, people, and rubble, before taking out a poor dog crossing the road. This, I was to find out later, was only the start, as the following morning, whilst travelling through rush hour traffic, we slammed into a pedestrian, trying to play chicken with on coming cars. Thankfully, “it was a mere flesh wound” and he glanced off our wing mirror quite spectacularly! I realize, that hitting a dog and a human isn’t something to be laughed at, however, when in India, some things just seem funny and normal.
Amongst the chaos and mayhem, you have to laugh and thankfully, when we had a bus crash into the side of us, we managed to laugh our heads off and not worry about what might have been! You will be pleased to know, the bus came off second best, as the entire front end of it, fell off into the street.
When you think of WTA Tour, you tend to think of glamour, five star accommodation, great facilities, top players, great food, if only wish this was the case. We walked into the stadium; or rather, we tripped and fell over Indian men frantically trying to get the venue ready for the tournament to begin. It was now Friday, the tournament was due to start the following day and they had only built one court, which by the way was made out of ply wood and the other court, was hurriedly being measured out and painted blue. You have never seen anything like it and this forced us in to another fit of giggles, the elite tennis players were due here and just look at the place. Crazy! The practice courts were not much better and even more comical. The courts were in an old gymnasium, measured out perfectly, so that you had a meter on both sides and a wonderful wall, half a meter behind the baseline. This made serving very awkward, as you would take your racket back and hit the wall. If it wasn’t so bad, you would really start to question a lot of things, however it was so diabolical, that you simply couldn’t have wished to be anywhere else.
Most people, when they think of India, think of Delhi Beli. I was on a mission not to get ill, but unfortunately, this lasted 5 days, after daring to consume some of the food at the courts. Each WTA event caters for the players at the actual site. At this tournament however, the food wasn’t too appetizing and to make matters worse, not only did the dining room contain players and officials, but also the odd mouse, rat and frog. No need to wonder why we all left 5 stone lighter. The majority of players, were clever enough not to really eat during the day, which is obviously very difficult, considering you have to play a match. However, the hunger pains and dizzy spells are a lot nicer than the dysentery that a lot of us picked up. It’s incredible to me, that the WTA would risk putting an event in such a place, but after chatting with players who had been the year before, they said it had improved. This time round the roof was actually safe and large bolts weren’t falling from it, onto the court and players below!
I really could go on, but I should probably talk a little about my matches. I had a great first round, just what you need, when trying to get you used to playing on wooden courts. I won easily, a slight blip near the end as my concentrations levels dropped, but overall straightforward. My next match, however, was a lot tougher, a rematch of one of my greatest victories and memories at Wimbledon. Domachowska was obviously not a draw you would want and after playing her, I cannot understand why her ranking would have slumped to the level it has. Maybe after losing to me at Wimbledon, she had a mini breakdown, because after playing her and watching her following matches, I can’t see what has gone wrong. I felt pressured from the outset. She was hitting heavy, deep balls and giving me no time to prepare, react, or attack. I was thrown of my stride straight away and I knew that this was the test I needed, to finally understand how I can turn matches like this around and put myself in the driving seat. Attitude wise I was happy with how I coped, after going 4-0 down quickly and struggling to win points, I could have cracked, but I continued to try to find a way round it. I almost did, I began to slice short, mix the pace up and for a time it gave me a slight opener. Unfortunately, calls didn’t go my way and what could have been a dramatic turn around and may have made Domachowska think, oh god she’s on her way back, I didn’t get the calls I think I deserved. The match score line looked worse than it was, I was in the match and the points were well fought, however she played well and continued to dominate until the very end. I was disappointed, but after not playing too many matches and being thrown in at the deep end with a fairly difficult match up, I could at least take positives from it.
The next few days for me were a bit of a blur, as I tried to survive the Deli Beli I unwittingly received from the venue! After my second experience of India, although it was an incredible adventure and certainly, a country everyone should see at least once, I think I will probably choose differently in future. I now have to survive a 9-hour flight to Korea, Imodium all the way.
But I, being poor, have only my dreams
I have spread my dreams under your feet
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams