Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Tennis

When tennis is discussed by Australians, it is not merely referred to as tennis, but as "the tennis". This is the case with other sports as well, but since tennis has been in the spotlight lately, that is where I've noticed the saying. So if you are watching the Australian Open on television, commercials or news advertisements will tell you what's on after "the tennis". If someone asks you if you are going to the tournament, they will likely ask if you are heading to "the tennis". If they are cheering for their countrymen or women, they might say "go the Aussies!". This is interesting, because when we left the signature mat out a little too long at our wedding reception, some of my high school friends wrote "Go Terps!" on the mat as they were leaving. Well that must have persuaded my Australian friends to comeback with "Go The Aussies!" on the signature mat. Now it all comes together nearly 5 years later, ha!. The addition of the word "the" is very interesting to me because it seems that, in most cases, the Australian language shortens words (brekky for breakfast, Oz for Australia, tinny for tin can, tele for television, etc., etc., etc.), but in this case they actually add a word. At any rate, I've picked up on it after watching loads of tennis over these last two weeks .

If you have any interest in sports whatsoever, you've probably seen some coverage of the Australian Open. The massive tennis tournament is held right in Melbourne, just a short distance from where we are living, so we thought we would take advantage of that and head over to check it out. We went on the first Friday of the tournament, which turned out to be a great day of competitive matches. It is surprisingly reasonably priced to get into the Open (I say that because everything seems to cost a fortune here), and we paid about $30 each, which gave us access to all of the courts (there must be over 20) except for the two main courts, Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena. Erik knew that a co-worker was going to be in attendance with her husband, so we joined them in some great seats at Margaret Court, which is generally considered the #3 court after Rod Laver and Hisense. They had been to the Australian Open before and mentioned that they had previously moved around during the day to different courts but had discovered that it was usually best to find good seats in one arena and stick with them throughout the day, as good seats are sometimes hard to come by the afternoon.

The first match was a men's doubles match and proved to be quite exciting. I say this because an unranked duo was upsetting a ranked Italian men's team, and one of the Italian guys was NOT happy about that. I presume he was cursing in Italian and he threw his racquet on several occasions. It was very entertaining! The doubles team that upset the Italians went on to upset many other teams, and they are playing  just dominated the Americans in the championship match!
Italians are on the right. Server is the racquet-thrower!
(FYI, you can always click on the pictures to enlarge them!)
In match #2 at Margaret Court, we watched the #8 ranked women's singles player, Radwanska, win over her unranked opponent. This match was entertaining because Radwanska had a great group of fans supporting her, singing songs such as "if you're Polish and you know it clap your hands", eventually getting the entire crowd to clap with them. Radwanska bowed down to them at the end of the match to thank them for their support!
Radwanska and her fan club.
The next match was Berdych, the #7 ranked men's singles player, who won the match and went on to face Nadal in the quarterfinals. The level of tennis in this match was extremely good, and it was phenomenal to witness up close how incredibly fast the men hit the tennis ball .
The crowd watching Roger's match as he plays inside Rod Laver Arena.
Tournament Brackets
In the middle of the Berdych match, we realized that the Bryan brothers, the #1 ranked men's doubles team from the good 'ole US of A, was about to take on the Australian doubles team on Court #2. Many people would be wanting to watch this match because Lleyton Hewitt, an Aussie favorite, would be playing. We decided to leave our superb seats in order to have a chance to witness a great tennis atmosphere. When we arrived at Court #2, there were lines of at least 20 people at each entrance (Federer had just finished playing in Rod Laver, so there was a massive exodus to go watch Hewitt around the same time that we were trying to grab seats). There was still about an hour before the match would likely begin, but we decided to wait around in hopes that we would get a seat between matches. After waiting for about 20 minutes, I saw bunch of people falling out of line. The women behind me received a phone call and she said "they moved the match", to the person on the phone. Fortunately we picked up on that right away and left the line to figure out where the match would be played. We found out it would be on Court #3, so at that point we were literally running through the crowd to get to Court #3 for a chance at a seat. Luckily we went all the way around the court (most people were too lazy to go around to the far side), and got prime seating for the match. The Americans beat the Aussies despite lots of "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie" cheering from the crowd. It was an impressive match to watch and I was equally impressed with the crowd's wave-creating skills!
Bryan brothers are in the navy and white uniforms.

My favorite Aussie fan at this match!
Game, set, match! Bryan brothers win this time, but end up losing in the Championship Match.
Hopefully we'll have a chance to attend the Australian Open a few more times before our time in Melbourne is up. Perhaps you'd like to come visit us in January next year so that you can see it for yourself?!

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