The great thing about going along to the Dinara photo-op was finding out that she was planning on hitting at 8:30pm. I was convinced that given the order of play on Monday, Ana would be hitting at 7:00pm. So while all the other journos wisely called it a day, I stuck around to watch Dinara practice. But imagine my surprise when at 7:30, Masha walked out on the court. What??? Sadz.
But then I saw Ana walking out onto a side court with Heinz. Yay! Ana's practicing! So I abandoned Maria's shriekfest and watched Ana warm up and hit some serves. But after about 20 minutes of warm up she left the practice court. Boo!
And then it happened. I went back to watch Dinara hit and low and behold, Ana was there! Hitting! With Dinara! It turns out that there was a bit of scheduling crunch for late practice sessions on center court so these two former number ones teamed up to hit on center. I'm not sure I can put into words how amazing this was.
Two former #1s, who played each other in a Slam final, after which their careers took dramatic turns (in opposite directions, obviously), now found themselves laughing it up and hitting with each other in preparation for first round matches that they're not exactly favored to win.
Throughout their session I couldn't help but just sit and reminisce about the last two years. These two have been the driving force in my tennis fandom over that time, celebrating their ups, and feeling the gut-punch of their downs. All in all, there was something sweetly, and sadly, poetic about the moment. This was the 2008 French Open final, on Center Court, under the lights, in front of...30 people, with last minute hammering and blowers serving as a soundtrack.
It was surreal.
It will easily go down as one of my all-time favorite live tennis moments. Special stuff.
More pics after the jump.