If you are at least a little bit interested in tennis (or if you live in Australia and are trying to watch TV on channel 7), you will know that the Australian Open are on at the moment. And since this Grand Slam is happening in our own back yard, we decided that it was definitely worth a visit. Which we did last week Wednesday, during the second round matches.
Despite the fact that the media hype only starts with the first round of the men’s and women’s singles tournament on Monday, the grounds are actually home to a qualification tournament to fill the last few spaces in the tournament roster. This happens in the four days leading up to the big event, and is open to the public.
Being half Dutch, it goes against the grain to not take advantage of something for free, so Kai and me went there as well. Some of the pictures in this blog reflect that initial visit.
Since Willemijn had to work that day, she dropped us off at the station and we took the train getting to the Open. Getting off at Flinders Street Station and walking down the Yara, we were greeted by the first outlying stalls of the circus that is the Australian Open.
As we were there early (it was just past 9:00am), we still had an hour before the doors opened. So we made use of all the other entertainment set up around us.
At 10:00am the doors opened. Since we “only” had ground passes, we made our way through the grounds to Hisense Arena to watch the 2nd round match between Chardy and Nishikori.
Nishikori is the current world no. 5 and a big hero in his home country of Japan. And since there is a large Asian community here in Melbourne, half the arena was filled with Japanese flags.
Chardy being the underdog and seeing that our fellow European did not have a large following in the crowd, we decided to give our support to the Frenchman. But even our timely shouts of “Allé Jeremy!” did not help and he lost in three sets. Oh well.
After the match we walked over to one of the outside courts to catch part of the 1st round doubles match between Haase (NED) / Mayer (GER) and Bolt (AUS) / Mousley (AUS). Here the atmosphere was even better than in the arena. For one, it was two Aussies playing, but also these courts are a lot smaller: we were sitting not 5 meters away from the action. And, of course, we had to go for our countrymen. 🙂
They lost in three sets, even though we did our best shouting encouragements in two languages. But we believe that they won the second set (which we watched) because of us.
Unfortunately we had to leave after the second set to catch a train back home, due to an appointment.
Overall it was a great day out. Even Luka enjoyed it.
For anyone thinking about coming here for the Open: get a grounds pass (they are comparatively cheap as opposed to seats in one of the two big arenas), get in the first week, get here early in the day.
And have a great time. We did.