Day 1 and Day 2 reports from the Oz Open.
Sorry, this took a week....I have forgottten a few things but hope this is still ok and interesting.
Before I give arun down on matches I saw - a couple of changes to note regarding the Australian Open facilities that need ot be noted.
1. Very disappointedly, they have taken down the 4 faced scoreboard outside Court 3. In stead, on a big screen, they update scores over 3 or 4 pages which means you have to wait around to see updates- annoying when a player is around match point. Screen quite good but don’t understand why they had to take down the old scoreboard.
2. Outside courts.
After Rod Laver, Vodaphone (now Hisense- what to they do anyways??) MCA and Courts 2 and 3, Court 18 was (still is) the biggest outside court. It is on the Hisense side of the facility. Next door Court 19, was (is still) the 2nd biggest. Because of the size, these 2 courts have had TV c overage. Not anymore. No Tv means some unusual choices on the courts over the days (with all due respect, Chan vs Hsieh drew about 1/6 of the capacity of the court) Why they no longer have TV here is unusual and frustrating.
Court 6 and 7 both were the size of Court 19. They both had TV coverage. Now only court 6 does and a tower was built at the back of court 7 to for camera’s. This angle means they have had to lower the fence at the back of Court 6 which means balls keep flying over,. Very very very odd. The old crane that was used for camera’s in the past did not need any of these troubles to occur. Court 8, which has a grass hill to one side, now has a larger temporary stadium (still overall not as big as courts 6,7 or 19 I don’t think) but5 now had camera’s. Maybe it is an electrical thing or a Health and Safety thing but I don’t understand why they would make this a tv court, therefore make the marquee players play there but frustratingly not have it big enough for people to watch. The grass hill was always full and you had to be lucky to get a seat.
Court 11, which used to be the same as court 7 in size is no I one row piece of crap viewing court like Court 5 and 10. All these courts must be hard to play at as p[people always walk past and quite distracting.
The thing I really don’t get (and again, maybe a health and safety issue or some other issue) Court 15 sits out the back of the complex –n WITH A STADIUM THE SIZE OF COURT 6, 7, 19 and 21) but the don’t use it!!!!! It is a [practice court that no one sits at. SO your watching a match on court 14, which again, is a piece of crap with 32 rows and people, are all standing on top of each other watching a match and you have a spare court with stands that are all empty! Court 4, next to Court 3 also has stands but is no longer used for matches (they stops I think 2 years ago) Because of the traffic going past there, I can understand it maybe a bit hard to concentrate for players and also, when a Safin or whoever needs to practice, it is close to the change rooms but also gives people a chance to watch them, But as for wasting court 15- it should be used instead of Court 5, 10 or 7. They could actually make it even bogger (Court 18 size) as they have room around it to do so.
Ok, enough of that. (well one more thing- scheduling of matches was really poor, players that should have been on show courts or one of the outside larger courts weren’t put there- referring to WTA matches- think the sexist pigs who schedule the matches have really got no idea on the players that draw interest other than the obvious (Williams ect) . For me very annoyingly, matches that I wanted to see all seemed to be scheduled at the same time (although I didn’t expect Craig Tilleyy to confer with me beforehand!! )
ON the Monday first up, not a lot of my ‘top fav’s were playing but still had interested in a number of matches.
Having never seen Mayr play before (but having read a quite a few people pay her out and say she had no right to be in a GS as she has most of her points form $25K challengers) I was keen to watch her play Schruff. Mayr was actually really good. She was very intense and hit the ball really hard-very one dimensional (like a Lindsay Lee Waters) but certainly can hit it. Schruff got off to a bad start- seemed very nervous- Mayr raced to 5-0 and I left Saw Schruff came back (on the new evil scoreboard) and thought she may have come back- But looking at the score- it seemed that was the extent of the comeback)
I then went to see Nat Dechy, who I really like, against Kutuzova. Was keen to see Kutuzova, having really only seen her on TV at the French open play Dementieva once (were she started well but then fell away dramatically) Kutuzova didn’t come to Oz last year and maybe through injury, has really not shown a lot for all the hype and wildcards she received maybe 3 or 4 years ago. Kutzova wore a fluro yellow dress with ruffles on the bottom. Certainly had the physique that draws attention from the media. Both ladies were very even. Kutuzova could hit the ball a little harder but was more in consistent , whilst nat D was a bit better mover and concentrated a bit harder. Saw the first set, which Nat deserved, and left (wasn’t surprised VK fell away 60 in the 2nd- don’t know how mentally storing she is) Nat’s husband watched on and I saw Nicky Escude (very svelte) for the first of many times for the next 2 days. No reason why VK can’t reach top 100 though.
Walked past new crap court 7. This is an eg of very poor scheduling. Even to the most ignorant person regarding WAT, you would see Sprem is from Croatia. Croatia generally means large crowds. So why put this match on a court that has no stadium. Then you would go, hmm Sprem. ….She was Top 20, has done ok in Aust before (4th rnd)….oh beat Venus in that controversial match at Wimbledon and got o the qrts there…been injured but qualified here….has an attractive hard hitting game.. even if she wasn’t Croatian, she may get a bit of a crowd with a that record… The you would go, hmm Pironkova, now she has made a bit of a name for herself…beat Venus here before (oh, it was before I was tournament director, so that doesn’t count) …hmm, but she is now Top 40…oh, beat Patty S last week in Hobart (maybe Craiog still thinks the only lead up event is in Sydney) and followed that up to get top the qrts….needless to say big crowd- not a hope to get a look in so I walked on. (um, why not put this on court 19 and put Mayr/Schruf on the smaller court??)
Headed to watch another player I am liking more and more, Alize Cornet against Kortysseva. Really interesting match . Both ladies hit the ball really really hard and they had a number of awesome rallies. Cornet is fun to watch, she has a bit of a laugh and smile- bit of a crowd pleaser. She has improved (obviously) since I saw her play at the Oz open in the last 2 years. Looks bigger and stronger. Maria K- who changed her grunt from her match I saw against ME Salerni last year-and looked pretty sharp even if she didn’t seems as aggressive/intense/angry as her match against MES –& even though it was her first match for the year (I didn’t think she’d come down under having wd inj form the first 2 weeks of the year)
Maybe a bit of a lull in matches, so cruised around to the LAcoste tent- love lacoste but the tent was v v disappointing, like the ugly outfits they put on the linespeople- prob Craig’s choice anyways…
Think I walked passed court 6- mega crowds (well done craig!) and saw through a crack Date and Kanepi- really fun long, hard hitting rallies from the few games I saw. Kaia did well to overcome the huge Japanese support.
Juyst my luck- I then had 2 or 3 matches I wanted to see.
Went to one of my all time fav’s Me Camerin- who started poorly to a spirited and flashy Gallovits- who- each time I see her reminds me more of Nat Zvereva in her style. I don’t mind Eddy but saddened – I walked to the court next to me to see Agi Szavay playing poorly against Voskoboeva. It was de ja vue. Szavay is obviously talented, her 22007 results show that but much like the match I watched last year- on the same court- against a tall Russian (Vos-ko is now pretend Kaz) – I saw a player who was not timing the ball, didn’t look like she was concentrating and struggled for the right shot selection. Like makarova last year pretend –Kaz hit the ball really hard and was making the shots. Like last year, Agi came back and I thought, all she now needs to do is get her nose in front and her free flowing 9ala Hantuchova/Mandlikova/Gig) game will go off. She never got her nose ahead and her game never clicked. Certainly moments of brilliance but just not on her game. I sat bnext to her boyfriends- the same dude I saw he hanging with when I left qualies last week. Prentend Kaz had a very special lady support8ing her who decided to sit right next to Agi’s special man. She was annoying, especially in her Eurp trash white crochet outfits and shoe biz white plastic shoes.
I watched that match and MEC and Eddy together. (I sat in the back row of court 13 and when standing up, had a great view of court 11) Like she always always always does (well at leats for me over the last 4 years) MEC came storming back and showed massive grit. Unlike her 06 performance against Bychkova and 07 match against Vesnina, once she got ahead in the 3rd set, at 3-1 1 she chocked, and Eddy came back strong, showing great strength, power and finesse (and as much as I hate to say it, class) . I sat next too her calm coach (who was good lokking –and he knew it-and from later observations, maybe more) (I moved over to court 11 once Agi lost)
So 2 bad losses. I then wondered over to new special tv court 8 to be even more sadeded to see Steph D in a whole lt of trouble agsint Sugiyama. The court was packed, had to stand at the end. When I arrived it was 4-4 in the 2nds and Steph certainly had her chances. She really really really played well- much better than her match against Eddy Gallovits on court 5 a year earlier. She has improved and looks fitter. She actually played a similat gane to Sugiyama and in the end the japanses player just played that game a bit better.
3 losses. No good!
Over to Court 3, where I saw Marion play trash mouth South. Having never seen Mel before, I was interested to see how she played. She actually took it up to marion in the 2ns (although Big girl on campus reckons she has sore leg form her WTA blog- I didn’t see it). Mel probably plays a bit to much like a junior still/immature-using poor shot selection. She could be a bit more mobile too. Having said that, she played well and with a bit more help/coaching, could make herself a perm top 100 player. Having watch he in Australia now for 5 or so years, I always forget how hard marion can hit it- much harder than what you see on tv.
Back to crap court 5 and Vivi. I lobve Vivi and am so proud she can still make a Grand Slam MD in singles. She really makes the most of her ability. I was keen to see Duque having never watched her before. Again, I had in my mind that Duque- for whatever reason, would be a small clay court hitting wall –like Dominguez- who co ididentally cheered on for her veteran country woman. To my surprise, Duque plays an attacking game and made a lot of ventures ot the net. She had her chances but Vivi played the big points well and went onto win the first set.
I watched another fav, Karin Knapp against the Aussie Wildcard Wejernt next. Karin is a cutie. I was so sad to see her have a heap of time off last year unwell. Like Szazay, she proved in 07 that she ahs game (and her Antwerp 08 event) but like last year against Dellacqua, she seems to not have a lot of full belief in herself. Wearing a gorgeous navy fila skirt with red and white pleats (much much better than the green and gold- a la Steffi Graf evil adidas circa 1989 bad pattern outfit that the rest of the fila gang is wearing) Karin was still strapped up from her injury form Sydney. Karin can hit the ball hard and makes some great shots but almost like Potty mouth South, she plays a bit immaturely. Maybe rust? I dunno. She should have won much easier against the aussie – who has talent but plays with an awkward style- she always seems unbalanced, hits a weird flat forehand- it reminds me of someone but I can’t think who…back to Karin- maybe it was the leg –she did seems to limp a bit- buit she will need to get more mobile if she is to crack the top 30.
I can’t remember who I saw next but the other matches’ I remember watching next was Jilly Craybas vs Mathidle Johansson. Mathidle was again put on court 10 last year and I feared it would be unlucky for her – like court 13 was for Aggy Szavay. I sat next to Nicky Escude again, who ate his nails the whole time. Last year, I had never seen MJ play and was excited she received a WC only to find her game against marta Domachowska to be a pathetic one, were she missed everything and to be honest I was kind of furious and thought the French Fed should have been too as she looked unprepared (she didn’t play any lead up events) and thought it was a waste. Well, same court but much different player. This year, she played a hard hitting aggressive game- very similar to Domachowska or a Pescke from the first shot. It was great tennis. Jilly- who, to be honest, has never been a fav but is still someone I admire for trying hard and getting really fit was completely left flat foot. Around the end of the first set, Sofia played AK on Court 7. So I jumped up into the back row of Court 7 so I could watch both matches. I’ll stick with Jill-MJ for the moment. The 2nd set, JC played much more consistent and MJ started missing a lot. This happened into the 3rd as well and Jill had a 3-1 and maybe a 4-2 lead. Johansson, who got down on herself but kept on battling and tring to bash the ball, came back though. In the end, she took the risks, she was the braver and she deserved to win. Jilly, who remained very calm throughout the match and seems like the librarian type who would never loose her cool, cracked it at the end- threw her racquet att he bag at the end, kicked it, kicked her bag. Emotions!@
Back to Sofia. For me, love Sofia but like players of her type that I have loved in the passed – petra mandula (seriously same game, style, physique) and even jana Nejedly, she can be frustrating to watch duie to a preserved lack of trying. Like Petra and Jana, over the years you would see them play a sublime match were they try and next game, la la land no care craps match. (I saw Petra upset Maggie Maleeva in a great 1st round match maybe 3 or 4 years ago- like it was great hard tennis- only to see her literally not try against a 150 WC at the time…Sania Mirza……same as Sofia, great 2006 Oz Open and seriously didn’t try in her first round loss to Sugiyama in 2007) After watching her blitz Marion last year in the first round I thought I was due for a la la land match. I had even more reason to think that after her poor outings this season. Although she lost, I was wrong. Quite the contrary. Sofia –in the matches I have seen her in, has been the one who can win or lose a match. IN this match against Kleybanova- yes, she had the power and went for her shots but she was often the one retrieving against her heavier, harder hitting opponent-she was the one retrieving the extra ball for Alysia to make the mistake. It was great tennis actually. Sofia had serious chances in the 2nd set but couldn’t close it out. I really hope she can use the same grit and determination throughout the next month to so, where she has big points to defend in Antwerp and Memphis.
It was getting darker and later now and \I had fewer matches to watch so jumped over to court 3 to see Chakvedatze and Keovthrong. I had only seen Anne play a little on TV against Venus last year but nothing other than that, so was keen to check her out. Without meaning too, I jumped up and sat behind…..Mouth from the SOUTH…Mel! Sitting with Elena B- who was handsy with her coach…if you know what I mean. Couldn’t believe it. Mel didn’t stop talking, few swear words..and like my time beforehand at qualies sitting behind her, I would hear her refer to players as “they are so funny” Anne was funny too. Anne tried gallantly and won the 2nd. Mel and Elena thought Chaky might crack it- cos she is so funny. But Chaky hits the ball as hard and flat as anyone I saw and soon jumped too 3-0 to me. It shows that Dokic really played well to bat her and that she still –AC_ still ahs to deal with the demons that make her go ‘off’ and stop her from being a top 10 player again. Elena timidly asked Mouth from potty South for a warm up hit tomorrow but Pots reckons ’better not, but let me know if you can’t find someone else” Potty mouths brother was again trying to capture some Kodak moments with his camera. Poor no matched EB!
I had enough of that and went back to Court 7 to see Rezai and Makarova. I had only seen these 2 players once before and neither were ones I really lied but I didn’t have a lot of choice so I sat down next to a French crew cheering for Rezai (not her family……..the younger boy- who looked like he was maybe 20 at most was Pavyluncnkova’s coach- or at leats that is what his ID said…the lady he was with would have been 35- very attractive typical French looking lady with adorable and well behaved children- maybe one was 4 and one- they looked exactly like her) Unlike my previous encounters with a sombre Rezai( I think it was 3 years ago walking around the courts and then 2 years ago in a 1st round match with Emilie Loit) she seemed much happier, much more at ease with herself….like someone who was in love- it was like she was in ,love with tennis maybe. She just seemed thrilled to be there. Maybe coincidentally , she didn’t wear a dreary all black outfit, instead a liberty patterned shirt (I know, weird, it was a shirt as in a ‘blouse’ pretty but not sure about the comfort) Anyways, Rezai started really well. She was hitting the was beautifully really hard and flat it was great to watch. The tall and awkward Makarova (who I ahs only seen against Szavay the year before and a few games of a doubles match she played with Sfar against Raymond Stubbs at Wimbledon on Tv) was outof sorts and frustrated. I heard a familiar sound though. The same Euro Trash Bad White outfit Ukraine Mail order Bride who was cheering Galina Pretend Kaz was there cheering for Makarova. After a satisfying first set, and given it was about 9pm, I decide to leave Aravene feeling confident she would beat Makarova- which would piss off Euro. So I left (and was devastated when I turned on the TV and got updated scores to see that Makarova came back and won- and made a double delight for Euro- Mail Order!!)
Day 2- Tuesday-----man, will write that tomorrow if anyone is interested…home time now!