Sunday, January 23, 2011
The Australian Open is taking place in Melbourne right now. To encourage the locals to attend, they offer a weeknight "After 5" ground pass for $20. You can't enter the main stadiums, but during the first week, you can catch a lot of good players on the smaller, outdoor courts. I went twice last week- on Tuesday, I lucked out and got great seats and saw two men's matches; Robin Soderling won his easily, but the second game between the popular French player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (pictured) and the German Philipp Petzschner was a lot more exciting. Tsonga lost the first two sets, then went on to tie it up and win the 5th. I had never seen tennis before in person, and it makes a huge difference seeing the players up close- the top men routinely hit the ball over 200 kilometers an hour, and you get a much better sense of how they can curve the ball and the strategy involved. Oh, and to be honest, I never really understood the scoring until my friend who I went with explained it to me, so that helped. I always pictured tennis crowds as somewhat subdued, but that certainly wasn't the case, at least at the Australian Open. People are quiet while the ball is in play, but overall it's a really fun and lively atmosphere with tons of international fans. I went back again on Thursday and watched a women's game between a couple of eastern Europeans. We tried to watch Andy Murray but couldn't get a seat, so ended up sitting on the lawn in front of the big screen instead- on a nice summer night, you can't really complain about sitting outside and drinking wine.