The first thing that strikes you as you make your way to the Sydney Olympic Park is just how much of a hike it is from Sydney proper. According to Twitter, I was sitting on a relatively slow moving train for about an hour (I know this because I complained on Twitter for about an hour), then had to transfer to a shuttle train to take me to the Park. Sounds simple, right? Well when you tack on a good 20 minute walk from the station to the actual tennis venue (Sydney Olympic Park housed multiple venues so it's more like a college campus than anything else), we're talking over an hour and a half door to door. In hotter temperatures (it was relatively mild today because of the morning rain) I could see that 20 minute walk being a deal breaker.
I'm also from San Francisco. Put simply, I am an impatient candyass. Please disregard all prior (and, if you want, subsequent) comments, complaints, and criticisms.
But once you find your way to the tennis venue, this is, as far as I can tell so far, yet another quality event that should give tennis fans lots of bang for their buck. The grounds are fairly compact, with no more than a 3-5 minute walk from the outside courts to the main stadium and the for the most part you get unobstructed viewing access to my raison d'etre: the practice courts. Sure, the sun gets a little toasty during the late afternoon, but something tells me you Aussies would scoff if I said that out loud. As for me, I hid out in the air conditioned media center for much of the day. Please see paragraph 2.
After picking up my media cred, I did what I always do at tournaments: I got distracted at the practice courts. Now mind you, I had a 4 hour red-eye that got me into Sydney at 7am, a 1.5 hour meandering, f-bomb-filled sweat-fest as I tried to find the place I was staying, and then a figurative punch to the gut on the news of the crazy happenings in Arizona today.
In short, I was in a really crappy mood, especially after that long commute in from the city. But you know what? Tennis absolutely never lets me down.
Ok, that's a total lie but let's not talk about AO10, RG10, SW19 09, etc. Ruins my super uplifting story.
Where was I?
Oh yeah, tennis absolutely never lets me down. The minute I put that distinctive blue lanyard over my head (by the by, should I be concerned that there's an Emergency Action Plan printed on the back of my credential?) and heard the sweet sweet ping of a tennis ball, everything seemed worth it. Not even Vika's banshee wail could leave me in my funk.
Also a lie. It did. When I saw her practicing I spun on my heel and took the opportunity to go to the restroom.
Anyway, on to the practice courts.
And who should greet me but a shirtless, long-maned, eye-black-you're-doing-it-wrong, Feli. As you can see, unlike his mohawked BFF, his abs are still intact and ever-present.
So I'm watching Feli for no more than 30 seconds when I hear an all too familiar sound. SAM IS HITTING A TENNIS BALL. I made a note to myself to pay attention tomorrow to the sound of her groundstrokes and serve because despite the fact that I can her hit one ball and know it's her, I couldn't describe it to you other than an airy "THWOOMP".
Anyway, yes, I am admitting publicly that I left shirtless Feli to watch Sam practice with Shahar. It happens. Deal with it.
It was cranktastic up in this motherfucker. There was screaming (Sam), there was angrily hitting balls at the backstop (Shahar), there was racquet cracking (Sam), there were softly whispered moans of pleasure (me). It really had it all.
Digging the glasses, though.
By the end of their practice sets Sam had figured her shit out and was ending practice in a much more positive place than Shahar. So...get ready for it, Wicky (please don't lose, Sam).
Anyway, back to this guy.
And there you go.
Other things I saw before I retired to the media center to regulate my body temperature: Flavia in a visor (weird), Gilles getting snapped with fans, a warmed up ATomic (he's waaaaaay taller than I thought he was), and, get this, a shirtless, extremely sweaty Sergey hitting with Vera. Unfortunately that one was on a corner court that is, unfortuntately, horrible for pictures so I don't have photo evidence. But I watched. Lord did I press myself up against that chain link fence and watch. I've filed it away in brain.
After grabbing some lunch I popped back out to see Fran hitting the practice courts for the second time today. Her groin is still strapped and she definitely seemed concerned about her movement.
Not looking great though, guys.
But don't worry. She's still Fran.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)