The Melbourne Park tennis complex in front of the Melbourne Cricket Ground as viewed from the Eureka Tower. The blue patches are the outside courts.
Tuesday 15 January was the second day of 2008 Australian Open Tennis Tournament but my first visit to any professional tennis event. Enjoying tennis but not being a huge fan, I attended without any major expectations.
The main Melbourne Park tennis complex entrance
On a warm day I joined thousands of tennis fans from around the world at the only grand slam event held in the Asia/Pacific region. As a holder of a ground pass, I could access all tennis courts except for the main Rod Laver and Vodafone Arenas.
The first match I saw was in the women’s first round between Japan’s Akiko Morigami and Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands on Show Court 3. Morigami won convincingly 6-2 6-2.
I stayed at Show Court 3 to see 10th seed David Nalbandian from Argentina thrash Australian Robert Smeets 6-1 6-1 in the first two sets. (Later I discovered the third set was far tighter with Smeets forcing a tiebreaker but still losing 7-6).
This match provided my moment of the day. A Smeets shot was obviously going to land in the doubles lane before the ball hit the top of the net and spun 90 degrees to land in Nalbandian’s court and count as a winner!
After 4 one-sided sets I headed to Margaret Court Arena where Korean Hyung-Taik Lee and another Aussie Chris Guccione were entertaining a more vocal audience. Despite Guccione playing at home, Lee won in straight sets 7-6 6-3 6-4.
Chris Guccione on the left hitting a shot towards Hyung-Taik Lee in the white cap
Outside the courts were the food vendors and sponsors’ tents. People waited 2-3 hours to enter “Garnier World” for a treatment and a goodie bag. I showed my MasterCard credit card at their tent to receive an FM radio. Aviva provided refreshing neck coolers to everybody completing their one question quiz forms.
All in all, a good day.
Watching tennis at the event provided a greater perspective than viewing the sport on television. Instead of just the tennis players, as shown on TV, in person I could observe the ballkids, line umpires, chair umpire, photographers and fellow spectators. The distances on and around the court were also more identifiable. These insights proved useful viewing the Australian Open final last night between Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.