IPEK'S AUSTRALIA DIARY
This was the first time I have been to Australia. My journey started in the capital. Canberra seemed too calm and quiet after Istanbul where I can pretty much say what day it is just by looking at the traffic. However, everyday seemed like a Sunday in Canberra since there was no traffic at all.
I had no partner going into Canberra since I had no idea when I was going to make it there due to visa problems. It took the Australian embassy three weeks before giving us the visas and therefore I was able to fly to Canberra only 2 days before the tourney was due to start. Because of this late arrival, I kept feeling dizzy for the next 4-5 days, with a lot of headache on top of it. I guess I should think it is normal since my body was struggling to get used to 25 degrees of difference in the weather!
I ended up playing with Andreea Vanc from Romania and we played against Serra Zanetti and Parra. We lost to them in 2 sets. I must say that the fact that I was still jet lagged and it was my first tournament of the year affected my game and I struggled. So did my partner.
I came to Melbourne on the Thursday before the tournament was to start and by then I was already pretty much adjusted to the climate. One thing that surprised me was that I didn't feel as excited as I was in US Open or as nervous as I was at Wimbledon. I remember feeling a lot more excited to see all the stars of the tennis world in the previous grand slams. I guess now I feel that they are just as human and similar to me so I just focus on my tennis rather than stare at their lives.
I partnered up with Julia Beylgezimer of Ukraine and we drew the 12th seeded Chinese duo, Zheng and Yen. We were the underdogs when we started our match on court 14 and there were so many Chinese spectators that it felt similar to walking in the Chinatown!
After losing the first set 6-2, we came back to fight and got the second set 6-2. We got back down 2-0 on the third set but after that we started to play really well and ended up winning the final set 6-4. I must admit that Zheng has an unbelievable backhand and Yen was everywhere on the court. It's not possible to deny the rising level of the Chinese players.
On the second round we were scheduled to play Santangelo of Italy and Russel of USA. I started the match very badly and then, even though Yulia played well and tried to hang in there, we lost the first set pretty easy. I sarted to play a bit better in the second set and we ended up winning it after saving a matchpoint. They took a "toilet break" whichI think was a good call for them. We lost momentum, started off badly and got broken in Julia's serve to go down 2-0. Then they got ahead 3-0, and then 4-1, and then 5-1, and then 5-2, and then 5-3 and we were up 30-0! Julia and I however then missed some very easy volleys and ended up pushing that last chance we had away. The fact that even though we played really badly and were still close proved that it was really a winnable match for us. They later beat 8th seeded Sugiyama and Dementieva to reach the quarters.
I think Yulai and I could be a good pair for the future since we found chemistry. We shall see when we get to play together again...
It all was another experience which is going to stay with me for a long time. In Melbourne, I had chance to spend a lot of time with a very good friend of mine and we actually ended up staying together. She is one of the top players on the tour and one of the nicest as well. The more I get to spend time on the tour with the top girls, the more I see how hard their life is: the loneliness and all the demands of the tour life...
I guess everything has a price and we all pay no matter what we chose to do... at least I'm doing something I love...