Thursday, 25 June 2009

Wimbledon - Day 3

Well what else am I supposed to do? I'm not in South Africa to see Clint Dempsey tear up the form books, so this'll have to do. Granted I could write the season review I've alluded to, but I kind of wanted the other lads to participate in that. I'm still waiting for the goods though...
Anyway I skived off work and set the alarm for 6am. I rolled out of bed at 7.30 and was out of the flat by just gone 8 to arrive at 'The Queue' at about 9.30. It's It was an odd old experience for me as I used to live at the other side of Wimbledon Park, so everything looked familiar yet completely alien. I guess the All English Championships can do that to an area.
Despite getting there at 9.30 and being handed a very civilised 'queue card' in the early 9,000s it was easy enough to get a ground pass, although it did take over three hours to get in. Luckily the park was bathed in glorious sunshine, so the queuing in itself was not a hardship. It also gave the like of Robinsons, HSBC and a wine company the opportunity to market to patient tennis fans. A couple of Italian tourists managed to infiltrate the line in front of us about half way through, only to be sent all the way to the back after waiting an hour because they didn't get a queue card. No-one queues like the British it seems.
This wasn't the first time at Wimbledon for me. I went in 2001, back when I was local, when a ground pass cost just £13. These days its £20 and the creation of a new Court 1 means that there are even fewer quality matches for the proletariat to see for their money.
The truth is the good matches were heavily oversubscribed in terms of bodies, so we found ourselves mainly watching women's doubles, which was aesthetically pleasing if not sportingly. Actually the speed at which the ball moved around the court was particularly breathtaking.
We started off on Court 15, where a women's double match where the most exciting thing to happen was my revelation that all the protagonists' names ended in VA, with players from Australia, Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic. Oh and the umpire, trying to return a stray tennis ball from a neighbouring court, nearly hit me with it. I'm sure it was the umpire from the Andy Murray match on Tuesday.
I then wanted to watch a full match and we found a second round women's singles game about to start on court 12 where India's Sania Mirza faced Romanian 28th seed Sorana Cirstea. We decided to support Mirza because of her ties to the Great British Empire, but our support was short lived. After the most insipid set of tennis I'd watched in a long time, in which our girl was beaten 6-4, we decided to knock it on the head and go for a drink. 6.30 for a Pimm's by the way.
We did see some men play. We watched British number 2 Alex Bogdanovic and his doubles partner James Ward close out a match on Court 6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, with some nice play. And we saw Number one seeds Bob & Mike Bryan strutting their stuff on Court 7.
Just as we were about to head home, out of the scorching heat, we returned to Court 6 to watch a fun match between Japanese pairing Rika Fujiwara and Aiko Nakamura against Kristina Barrois and Tathiana Garbin (German and Italian). This was a fun match, with the enthusiasm of the Japanese girls rubbing off on their European opponents. Fujiwara was a little dynamo at the net and both her and Nakamura played some great tennis. But their high intensity game withered in the heat, much like we did, and they were eventually defeated 9-7 in the final seat. Still - they lasted longer than we did. We toddled off home at 4-4.

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