Down Under: Kooyong shenanigans.
Oh yeth, it’s Kooyong time, the invitational tournament that pompously calls itself “the spiritual home of Australian tennis“.
I was fortunate enough to catch Day 1’s actions court side and as usual, it was a day of fun, light-hearted tennis, mingled with sunburns, peri-peri, and little boys demanding to know “but Daddy, where’s Federer?”
Del Potro, whom the guy sitting behind me knowledgeably referred to as “Martin Porto“, kicked off the day, overpowering Ivan Ljubicic with a 6-3, 6-3 victory.
“I feel good with my tennis, I feel confident.
“Of course, to beat Roger in the (US Open) final gave to me a lot of motivation and confidence to keep trying, keep working.
“When I go to the court with Roger, Rafa, I don’t feel too much different. That’s important for the career for the future, and of course if I want to fight for the number one ranking.”
Djokovic followed suit, as he put a 2 match losing streak against Tommy Haas to a halt, winning 62 63 in just under 57-minute.
The message Nole has right now for his competitors seems to be that he has done all the preparations to ensure the Australian heat will not affect him this year, after his fiasco in 2009 against Roddick.
I doubt it will either, since the weatherman’s telling us we’re in for a surprisingly cool 2 weeks.
For Tommy Haas, it was a bad showing as he struggled with an erratic forehand and spent half the match yelling at himself in German.
After snacking on some peri-peri chicken midday, the crowd got ready for the battle of the Nandos between Gonzo and Verdasco. The tight first set featured some fabulous forehand rallies, with Verdasco finally able to break for the set at 7-5.
The second set was mostly one way traffic, as Gonzo sank deeper into the sludge of unforced errors and Verdasco began to hit his stride, taking it 6-1.
It seemed that Spaniard had put his late season injuries from 2009 behind him, after spending a fortnight in Vegas during the off-season training with “Team Agassi” – also known as Darren Cahill and Gil Reyes.
And I’ve gotta say, no matter how much of a playboy Verdasco comes off as, whenever I’ve seen him interact with fans off-court, particularly children, he’s always been incredibly polite and sweet.
The last match of the day featured two of my favourite players – Jo-Willy and Bobby Sod. The first set was a close contest, as the Sod and Jo continued to slam the snot out of the ball, eliciting many a gasp from the crowd.
Which made Soderling’s subsequent implosion slightly inexplicable – the Swede failed to win a single point during the tiebreak, and could only scrape a game in the second set. But for Tsonga, it was good news all-round as Jo-Willy looked fit and focused, showing no signs of being bothered by his recent wrist niggle.
More photos here.