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Posts Tagged ‘Centre Court’

Ahead of yesterday’s Men’s Quarter Finals everyone was asking ‘Which of the top four is most likely to fall?’ and whilst the tennis blogosphere appeared to have a variety of views there appeared to be a general consensus that it wouldn’t be Federer. How wrong we were.

I was fortunate to have secured a Centre Court ticket for yesterday and as I made my way up to my seat I was thinking ‘Mmmm, maybe at a push Tsonga will manage to get a set… it’ll probably be Murray v Lopez that will be a closer run thing’. Maybe it was short-sighted of people not to predict Tsonga to cause an upset, he has been playing extremely well recently culminating in him reaching the final of Queens. My decision to tip Federer to make it to the semis was not meant as a slight on Tsonga’s abilities though, it was purely driven by the brilliant tennis that Federer has been playing – I would even have doubted whether Nadal or Murray could beat him. If you combined Federer’s swift procession through the French Open draw with his clinical displays at Wimbledon thus far you were left with an extremely experienced and skillful master who had Champion written all over him. But, having watched the quarter-final in the flesh, I can now say for certain that I completely underestimated Tsonga and the sheer power that he had at his disposal. For the first set and a half of the match it looked as if it would be a fairly routine Federer rout; the Frenchman was struggling to find his feet, he was putting a high percentage of his volleys into the net and if anything he looked a little lethagic. It was only as we entered the second set tiebreak that we started to see shots that reflected Tsonga’s true ability and even then I texted a fellow tennis lover (who was on Court One) stating that the match wasn’t very exciting as Federer was dominating it. At the start of the third set someone from the crowd shouted ‘Come on Jo, it’s a grand slam quarter-final’ and, whilst I’m sure he was already aware of that, it was as if it suddenly struck him that he really had nothing to lose.  He suddenly rose to the occasion firing shots of unbelievable depth and strength at his opponent, reining in his powerful serve to ensure it was also precise and throwing everything into the match, and he was greatly rewarded with a single break in each of the three remaining sets. At the start of the match the atmosphere had been a little stilted with only the occasional ‘Come on Roger’ or ‘Allez Jo’ at key points but as Tsonga upped his game the crowd matched him, steadily becoming more vocal as the excitement grew and giving him a standing ovation in return for his victory dance. I had gone in wanting a four set Federer victory (as I’ve said before I was desperate for a Federer v Murray final) but the way that Tsonga played I could not begrudge him the win, he fought back from two sets down through sheer determination and clever play. What was most noticeable for me during the whole match was that Federer’s level did not drop, he was still playing very well, it was just that Tsonga surpassed him and the World Number Three was not able to handle his opponent’s power as he was consistently pushed off the court. I am very intrigued to see how Djokovic handles Tsonga because whilst I think he is better equipped to see off the brute-force of the Frenchman I think he will also struggle to surpress him. I predict that in the semis Tsonga will avenge the Australian Open Final defeat to Djokovic in 2008 and make it through to his second grand slam final.

My whole reason for buying a Centre Court ticket yesterday was to see Murray play but I’ll be honest and say that after the Tsonga v Federer match it was a little bit of a let down. It was still a good game to watch but from the start it was clear that Murray was the stronger player on the key points and that he was going to be able to get the job done fairly routinely. Towards the end there were some exciting moments when Lopez had some break points but aside from that it was a fairly routine victory. Hopefully the Scot will be able to raise his game when he needs to against Nadal. Because he didn’t need to pull out all the stops yesterday, I didn’t see anything from Murray to entirely convince me he can win Wimbledon but I remain confident he will at least make the final.

Today and tomorrow I am going to get ground passes, tour the outside courts for doubles and juniors and watch the semi-finals on Henman Hill / Murray Mount. I was tempted to try and buy another Centre Court ticket for Murray tomorrow but it’s pretty pricey and I know that I’ll have just as much fun watching it on the big screen – I’ll report back on it all as soon as I can.

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I never imagined that my Wimbledon would start with me sitting in a disability tent almost in tears each time I breathed in but that was my entry into the Championships yesterday. You know how I joked about my bag being overpacked? Well that overpacked bag led to me straining my back and then when I bent sharply to pitch my tent that strain turned into a suspected muscle tear. But, like the queuing version of Andy Murray at the French Open, I’m battling on and forever the optimist I’m going to focus on the bonuses this misfortune brought:

– Two American men packed away my tent for me.
– A steward carried my massive bag to the lost luggage.
– I got treated like a celeb as I was ferried from the queue to the AELTC in a buggy and was allowed to rest in the shade whilst the rest of the queue caught up with us.
– Whilst in the shade I met a sweet woman and her kind husband who happened to work for the BBC. Her husband not only gave me lots of media guides for free but also offered to show me around the media centre which was brilliant. In the hour long tour I discovered so many technical tricks of the trade which when combined create the world leading coverage that the Beeb produce; it’s phenomenal how much goes on behind the scenes. Whilst in the press room I also spotted two of my journalistic idols, David Law and Neil Harman which was exciting!

Anyway, on to the important stuff, the tennis. I had a truly wonderful day, I doubt there can be any ticket in sport that offers better value for money than a ground pass to Wimbledon on second Monday. The sheer quality of the players on show was phenomenal, for just £20 I was able to watch Lisicki win convincingly, Kvitova crush Wickmayer, Hutchins/Fleming stage an impressive comeback, Ivanovic/Petkovic lose a close fought three-setter and drop in on some junior matches, plus there was so much more I could have seen. I also completed the obligatory act of sitting on Murray Mount and watching the Centre Court action – something which I think any sports loving Brit should have on their bucket list. Whilst I was fortunate enough to have access to a Court 1 ticket, I could have easily filled my day twice over with the great level of action on the outside courts. It seemed that every time I looked at the multiple scoreboards there was a new comeback or shock emerging on one court or another. I think the best part of the day was the fact that this year’s tournament remains extremely competitive, for both the men and the women; doubles and singles; juniors and seniors. I cannot call it either way.

Some general observations:

– Both Kvitova and Bartoli continue to look exceptionally convincingly; the strength and depth of their shots prevent any of their opponents playing their own game.

– The WTA really need to take a leaf out of the ATP’s book when it comes to marketing their players. Men’s tennis has always attracted more spectators than women’s but it still staggers me how few people could name more than two of the top 10. There were some of female tennis’ biggest stars playing yesterday but the majority of people still do not know them from Eve and therefore struggle to get behind them. Now would be the ideal time to promote the up and coming players because, as yesterday’s performances illustrated, life must go on without the Williams sisters.

– Doubles offers a brilliant opportunity to see some thrilling tennis up close and personal. I watched most of Ivanovic/Petkovic and a little bit of Fleming/Hutchins and I was so close to the court that I was almost in their laps on the changeovers!

– Despite our stiff upper-lip reputation, Brits love nothing more than coming together, having a drink and shouting at a fellow national as if our lives depended on it. The mood on Murray Mount was very jovial and whilst the patriotism dial wasn’t quite at full notch I imagine it will be on Wednesday.

– The match of the day for me had to be Federer v Youzhny. Both of the players dished up some sublime shots and in the second and third sets it could have truly swung either way. Youzhny could have won if it were not for a few key points going against him and Federer’s frequent ‘Come ons’ indicated that he knew he was under pressure. I really felt for the Russian on several occasions when net cords went against him or shots were out by a matter of millimetres. The six time Champion’s artistry showed through in the end though with his grace and unshakeable shot selection making the difference. The World Number 3 also played one of his infamous tweeners which made me very happy too!

Due to my back injury I’m not queuing today (slightly relieved due to all the rain) but fortunately I have managed to get a Centre Court ticket for tomorrow where I’ll get to watch Federer v Tsonga and Murray v Lopez – I’m predicting Federer and Murray will come through but I think both could face stern tests. I’ll report back on all that happens tomorrow evening.

Until then, I hope you are enjoying Wimbledon as much I am.

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My rucksack’s packed (it’s far too full), I’ve got my tent at the ready (still haven’t mastered how to take it down) and I’m on the train (it’s running late) but the most important thing is on my way to the hallowed lawns of the AELTC.

This trip will be my fifth visit to Wimbledon and it’s the first time that I’ve gone for more than just one day so I cannot wait to get there and into the swing of things. I have some wonderful memories from my first four visits ranging from meeting Goran Ivanisevic just a week before he became Champion to sleeping in a portaloo when a thunderstorm struck and I was tentless – needless to say I’ve learnt my lesson and am far better prepared for the elements this time around! I’ve also been fortunate enough to watch the final set of the Sampras v Cowan match, see Marat Safin close-up in all his glory, and soak up the passion on Henman Hill whilst a Brit battles it out. I’ve been to a lot of different sporting events around the world but none come close to Wimbledon in my eyes. Despite AELTC being a large site it has a wonderfully intimate feel about it, I love that you can round a corner and stumble across the Williams bunch having a family chinwag on a practice court. I also like the fact that your ticket gets you access to so many different places meaning you can drop in and out of several brilliant matches. Most of all though, it’s the general atmosphere that makes it so special for me. Wimbledon still has a reputation of being a stuffy, staid place reserved for the upper echelons of British society but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In that special corner of SW19 you get people of all ages, backgrounds and personalities united by their love of tennis – and a desire to eat strawberries and drink Pimms! It’s such a colourful place, alive with the sound of people excitedly whispering when they spot a player, surging to their feet in celebration of a stunning point or simply laughing with new friends; you cannot fail to feel cheerful when surrounded by such unadulterated joy. My week at Wimbledon is my summer holiday this year and, whilst some people I know think I’m crazy for choosing this over a week in Greece, I cannot think of any better way to relax and have fun. So, with all that in mind, here are the top five things I’m most looking forward to:

1. Introducing my mum to Wimbledon.
Whilst my dad and I have been to Wimbledon before my mum never has (slightly surprising since she’s from Surrey). This year she got tickets for in the public ballot for Court 1 tomorrow so she and Dad are coming down. I know she’s really looking forward to it and I am very excited about sharing in the fun of it all with them. I also have a few friends who have never been to Wimbledon before and are thinking of popping in after work so it will be great to introduce them to it all as well.

2. The final.
I know I’ve been banging on about this for months but I feel exceedingly privileged to have a ticket to the Men’s Final and it’s all down to my very generous friend Helen who received two in the ballot and offered me her spare. I think most British tennis fans would agree that a ticket for the Men’s Wimbledon Final is like a Willy Wonka golden ticket, especially as the game is in such rude health at the moment. I’m hoping for Federer v Murray or Djokovic v Murray but whoever is playing I’ll just be glad to be part of it.

3. Spending time with fellow tennis fans.
However much my lovely friends and family humour me I know they must get sick of my constant tennis witterings so it will be wonderful to chat away with people who love the sport as much as I do. Nothing beats a great debate about which two players from history you’d put in your ultimate final – and it’s even better when done in the sunshine just mere metres away from some of the biggest names in the sport!

4. Watching Murray play live.
I’ve seen Sampras, Agassi, Navratilova, both Williams, Nadal, Federer, Djokovic (and many more) all play live but I have never seen Britain’s number one in person so I’m desperately hoping I get to watch him. I’ve made the decision to just get a ground pass for tomorrow so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he overcomes Gasquet so that I can unfurl my Scotland flag on Wednesday… and Friday… and Sunday!

5. Touring the outside courts.
As I mentioned above, one of my favourite things about Wimbledon is that you can catch some really big names on the outside courts. I had planned to get a Centre Court ticket for tomorrow but the line-up on the smaller courts is so excellent that I’ve decided to save my pennies and enjoy it all from the cheap seats. Particular people I can’t wait to see include Ivanovic/Petkovic in the Women’s Doubles, Kvitova in singles and Lisicki in both singles and doubles – I’ll be overdosing on the Women’s game! This decision does mean I’ll miss Nadal v DelPo which I was desperate to see but c’est la vie.

What match or element of the Championships are you most excited about?

So, all that’s left to do now is join the queue and the fun can begin! If any of you are around this week send me a comment or tweet (@abatweets) and we can share in the excitement.

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