Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Melbourne diary 2011 - day 2 (the tennis)

Our main reason for travelling to Melbourne was to attend the Australian Open.  We were fortunate to receive 2 corporate tickets for the day session at Rod Laver Arena.  After a long-awaited sleep in (till 9am!) and a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, Mr Curious and I strolled down to the National Tennis Centre.

The first game on the schedule was between Vera Zvonareva [2] and Lucie Safarova [31].  I don't follow tennis closely any more and I've never seen either of them play, even on TV, so I went in with no expectation.

The first set was enjoyable, lots of rallies, but Zvonareva was more consistent and won the set 6-3.

Zvonareva

At that stage I thought the match might be over fairly soon.  Based on what I saw I didn't think Safanova could make a dent against Zvonareva's game.

To my pleasant surprise, Safanova came out fighting in the second set.  She made a conscious decision to be more aggressive, went for her shots, and made some spectacular winners.  I was very impressed with her reinvigorated game.  The quality of play was so high I was wishing for a third set.

Safanova

It was unfortunate that Safanova wasn't able to sustain that level of play long enough to stay in front.  It was like her mind and body ticked over to "tense mode" when she was ahead, and she would make silly errors, or miss shots that she was nailing in the previous game.  And Zvonareva was too good a player to let Safanova get away with it.

Safanova pushed the second set into a tie-break but lost it 9-7.  It was a shame for her, but that extra mental strengh was the thing that separates her from the top players.  She has all the tools (she was outhitting Zvonareva on many occasions) and was a joy to watch, I hope she can make it to the next level.

At the conclusion of the match, Mr Curious and I went for a walk around the complex.  I like going to the Australian Open in the first weekend because they were still lots of actions at the outside courts.

We watched Francesca Schiavone practised her volleying game, the day before her 4+ hours marathon match against Svetlana Kuznetsova.


As much as I enjoy the power game, I miss serve and volley tennis, and it was good to see someone playing beautifully at the net.

By the time we returned to RLA the second match was well under way.  Andy Murray [5] had already won the first set and was beating his opponent (Guillermo Garcia-Lopez [32]) easily.  Nothing much to report on that match.

Murray

The most exciting thing during that match was seeing the "spidercam" in action.  It was pretty awesome.  The wires must be so strong to support the camera and move it all around the court.  Apparently there are only 8 in the world!


We left the court before the Murray match finished to grab a late lunch.  This is what you get for almost $20 at the Bronze corporate lounge.


What can I say?  They make good margins out of food sale ;-)

The final match at RLA for our session was between "Aussie Kim" Clijster [3] and Alize Cornet.

Clijster

There was more life in this match but the result was never in doubt. Clijster won 7-6, 6-3. 

Of course she ended up winning the women's singles title by beating Li Na in the final - what a thrilling match that was!  They are both worthy ambassadors in the sport.

Mr Curious was checking results in the outer courts with his Australian Open iPhone app and saw that the match in Margaret Court Arena was getting interesting. So we left RLA to check out play between Marin Cilic [15] and John Isner [20].


The sun was beaming down strongly, it got the better of me and I managed to have a little nap at the court!

The atmosphere at MCA was very different from RLA.  The crowd was livelier - there were a few rounds of Mexican waves between games.  Since Cilic is Croatian, there was a fair number of Croatian-Australian supporters (a few wore shirts with Croatian flags but also carried an Australian flag).  Isner also had some vocal supporters.  In fact a few were so vocal they were escorted out of the court.


With two big servers, we knew the match was going to be a drawn-out affair and it was.  The third and fourth set went to tie-breaks which they split 1-set each, and they were both holding serves in the fifth set.  We were going to leave when it was 8-7, but Mr Curious said to stay for one more game.  It was a good call because Cilic broke Isner in the next game and won the match.

After a full day of tennis, we went back to the hotel for a cool shower, then head to old favourite Ezard for a late dinner.  We ordered from the a la carte menu this time (last year we had the degustation menu) and enjoyed the food and wine immensely.  Service was also better than last year with a knowledgable and eager waitress.  May I recommend the Wagyu Beef burger entrée and the fromage frais and rubarb cheesecake with basil pearls for dessert? Nom Nom Nom.

Hope I can write my last Melbourne diary entry before I forget about everything!

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  1. Oooh - glad you made it to Ezard again! We had the best meal when we went last year. So delicious!

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  3. Kitty, I was actually going to book another place but Mr Curious really wanted to go back, and I'm glad he insisted.

    Julia, we were in the 5th row behind the umpire, awesome seats they were.

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