Aus Open Day 9: Who let the Swiss out?
Having been through 8 days of Rod Laver Arena action live, you see two sides to the RLA crowd. The savage, blood-thirsty gang that ruled the midnight dogfight between Wogie v Gilly Simmo, and the orderly, well-moneyed patrons of a straight-sets blow-out, politely clapping along to each point as they sip their sparkling rosé moscato.
Yesterday’s match was neither because it was a match fell on the other side of the divide between competition and entertainment. As the match progressed, that were waves of “oooohs” and “aaaaah”s through the rallies. The crowd forgot about the competition between the two players for points and games, and instead, sat back to admire the quality of either player’s shots, even when the rallies ended with a shank.
In short, they were entertained, and I was feeling gloriously excited from a Southerly direction.
On the surface, the score line was a blow-out, and I’ve heard various reports of *ahem* certain US commentators disappointed that Stan did not make it more competitive. “Did not” is one possible choice of words, “could not” is another, certainly Courier and the commentary team in Australia sounded like they might’ve opted for the latter.
I was worried about Not-So-Man coming into the match. The sheer audacity of his shotmaking against Monfils and Roddick was frightening and top 10 in its quality. But it shouldn’t have surprised me that what worked for Not-So-Man against Monfils and Roddick didn’t work against Federer. During the match against Monfils, Lleyton, who was commentating for Ch 7 at the time, made an astute comment that Gael’s style of play was giving Not-So-Man the pace and rhythm to play himself into form and find his range.
The reverse of that happened yesterday – Mister Banana Smoothie smothered Stan with variations of pace, spin and very little rhythm. To his credit, Stan hung on as desperately as he could in the second and third set, but by 5-3 in the second set, Wogie McDodgie was in exhibition mood, and the crowd was laughing, whooping and jizzing their pants that tennis could be played like this, so casual, so stunning, and so illogically both at the same time.
I was told yesterday by Ticketek staff that there was a mass exodus of people buying Day Session Rod Laver tickets and returning their night sessions last minute, when Wogie was unexpectedly put on yet another day session. This is why.
Mentioning stunning, something about Australia just seems to bring out the best in Li Li Na Na, year after year. After making the semifinals in Melbourne last year, after beating Kim Clijsters in Sydney last week, Li Li Na Na is through to yet another slam semi.
Are you thinking about it?! Don’t even pretend you’re not thinking about it: 1.3 billion heads’ worth of a dormant market. A QUARTER OF THIS FUCKING PLANET. Now let us wake this sleeping bitch of a giant tennistical dragon.
P.S. Happy Australia Day by the way! I love a sunburnt country … no really, I do.