Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Aussie Open hangover

As I may have mentioned in these pages, I was quite upset at not being able to secure any Australian Open tickets. The closest I got to the action was being on the same pavement/sidewalk as Max Mirnyi on Collins Street, the night before his clash against Roger Federer. However, that didn't stop me from actually following and more importantly, enjoying it to the hilt. I have never been to the other slams, and knowing the traditions of Wimbledon and Roland Garros, those are probably marvellous places to be. What I do know is that the interest level among Melburnians (or is that Melbournians?) is something to be seen to be believed. The city is all abuzz with talk of the open, and everyone seems to be scurrying to the venue. I guess that certainly was the case this year, because most days set daily attendance records. Quite an achievement, considering it was pretty hot a few of the days, especially the first Sunday. Anyhow. It's all over now, and that's that. Federer in second gear was good enough most of the time. He was stretched a few times, but I do believe he was way below his best in those patches. He seemed to suffer a little bit from the lack of motivation, although his emotional outburst after receiving the trophy from Rod Laver belied it. Who, apart from a healthy Marat Safin, can mount a serious challenge to Federer? Federer himself, I would think. Staying motivated and fit for a sustained period is a challenge that some of the greatest have not been able to deal with. It'll be interesting for sure, to look at where Federer is about five years from now and look back. At the end of it all, here are a few snippets that I came across and enjoyed reading. CNN/SI's Jon Wertheim has increasingly become one of my tennis go-to guys and he's at it again with a great write-up about fifty little things that interested him. You can also find the story on Yahoo Sports, which is where I first noticed it. Fifty might seem an intimidating number, but trust me, this is a fun read. Here's the endearing story of a 'knitting granny' who was offered Australian Open tickets for her troubles. I can't help thinking - I wish this was the way our cricket officials thought. No wonder the Aussie Open is such a premier event. Lastly, this wonderfully poignant story, by Simon Hart of The Age, of the price Marcos Baghdatis and his family have had to pay so that he could get closer to realising his dreams. A word of thanks to Channel 7, The Age and The Herald Sun for their wondeful coverage of the Open. Now, only if we could have a little bit less of the ultra slow-motion replays - Vin Maskell of The Age thinks exactly that, albeit in a slightly different context. Thanks to Cricinfo Blogs for the link. - NK

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