Saturday, January 30, 2010

Australian Open 2010

They say that there can be four seasons in a day in Melbourne and this was clearly exhibited during the Australian Open (tennis tournament). On several days, there was a persistent overcast and chill, reminding me of wintry weather (I thought heading to the Southern hemisphere would save me from winter). However, many people, including me, got sun-burnt on those days. At least it wasn’t scorching hot during the tournament, though!

The reason I chose to come to Melbourne in mid-January, in the middle of the Australian summer, was to watch the Australian Open, one of four Grand Slam tennis tournaments (the other three being the French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open). Ever since I was a child, it had been my dream to attend a Grand Slam tournament. I was going to watch the French Open in Paris last May but did not get a chance as all the tickets were sold out by the time I got to the venue. Thus, I bought my five-day grounds pass for the Aussie Open months ahead of the competition.

I watched tennis for five straight days (the second to sixth days as it was raining on the first day), spending about 7-12 hours a day at Melbourne Park, the venue. With my grounds pass, I could roam around more than a dozen courts, giving me complete flexibility. In actuality, though, one can only enter the courts during players’ rest time and many of the seats in the three outside stadiums fill up early in the day. I watched first to third round matches. I was lucky in that I watched all the matches that I wanted to. My favorite player to watch is the French male player Gael Monfils, slipping and sliding on the court as if it were clay! I also got to watch Venus and Serena Williams play doubles.

One thing about watching live tennis--it is much more interesting than watching TV tennis! The time seems to go by much faster during live matches as one can catch up on scores from the other courts or simply observe the audience during players’ breaks. The atmosphere in the courts in outstanding! Some countries have cheering squads that resemble fans at football matches (e.g., Sweden, Croatia, Serbia and Chile--I’ll never forget those fans!). Other fans waved flags, wore their nation’s colors, painted their favorite players’ names on themselves or simply yelled!

Outside of tennis, there were vendor stalls and food booths in the area. I especially enjoyed the big screens that broadcasted live matches from the two main courts, along with score updates. Overall, the Aussie Open had great atmosphere and I want to come back in the future.

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