Friday, January 26, 2007

Day 12: Friday, January 26

Today is "Australia Day," which is a national holiday!

As a result, there was an abbreviated tennis schedule and the matches that were played did not start until 3:00 p.m. This may have been because there were parades in the morning, and fireworks at night. I learned that Australia Day celebrates the history of the (white) settlement of Australia, when Captain Arthur Phillip landed on the shores of New South Wales on January 26, 1788 (See the following website for further info: I was surprised to learn that the history of Australia dates back only 219 years, but then I imagine that it parallels the history of the United States in overlooking the presence of indigenous peoples when white settlers landed on both continents.

In any case, I thought it would be interesting to ask Australians what it meant to be an Australian, and/or what Australia Day means to them. Surprisingly, I found that most people didn't really know what it represented. One person said it was like our Labor Day; another said it was when the Australians gained independence from the British. But after asking two students from Ormond College (where I have been staying), they said that Australia remains part of the monarchy but still has its own constitution, which they have had since January 26, 1901. Like our Independence Day, there are also fireworks in the evening, and it just so happened that they began tonight as the Men's Singles semifinals between Tommy Haas and Fernando Gonzalez came to an end. Once again, it was great timing!

As for the tennis, it was a bit of a day off for me, or at least for my credit cards. I did get a grounds pass, and saw parts of several matches, but the big coup came in getting tix to the Men's and Women's singles finals on Saturday and Sunday. Although not quite as good as the ticket I had yesterday, I am still lower than Row PP so I cannot complain.

Back to the tennis I saw today. The first match I saw part of was the Women's Doubles final that was played in Rod Laver Arena. I watched it on the Big Screen in Garden Square just in front of Rod Laver Arena. That area is much like I imagine Henman Hill at Wimbledon, with people lounging on the grounds, some sitting at tables, others on benches, and still others sitting on blankets on the ground. I had been thinking that I would watch the Men's Finals match there as well, since I have not had much luck in getting tickets for Men's matches, but since I landed one today, I will be happy to sit in Row LL instead. The Women's Doubles final featured the third-seeded team of Cara Black (ZIM) and Liezel Huber (RSA) vs. the unseeded Chinese team of Yung-Jan Chan and Chia-Jung Chuang (TPE). Apparently, they upset the higher seeded team of Yan/Zheng in the semi-finals, 6-3, 6-4. When I got to Garden Square, Chan and Chuang were about to take the second set tie-break to split sets with Black and Huber. In the 3rd set, the more experienced team of Black and Huber cruised to win 6-1.

My next stop was Show Court 3 where Madison Brengle (USA) played in the Girls' Singles semifinals against 3rd-seeded Ksenia Milevskaya (BLR). When I arrived, Brengle had won the first set, 6-4 and was down 4-1 in the second. I was impressed by Brengle's movement on the court, and like most young players in the Women's draw, both girls seemed to want to end points with hard-hitting groundstrokes. Gradually, however, Madison worked her way back into the second set and eventually won it 7-5. She will now face No. 1 seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the Girls Singles finals, which will be played just before the Women's Singles final tomorrow.

A Girls' Doubles match followed on Show Court 3 but I watched only the first two sets, since I hoped to catch another Mixed Doubles semifinals, and it was starting to cool down considerably. The No. 1 seeded team included Julia Cohen (USA) and Urszula Radwanska (POL) against Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) and Arina Rodionova (RUS). Cohen and Radwanska won the first set easily, 6-2, and appeared to be in control in the second, but as can happen in doubles, the momentum turned around the fifth game, and the Russian team of Rodina and Rodionova went on to win the second and third sets, 6-3, 6-1. If the junior players are any indication, it appears that what tennis writers have referred to as the "Russian Revolution" will continue.

After the Girls' Doubles teams split, I decided to head back to Ormond College since it was starting to get cool. I thought I would watch the Men's Singles semifinal match between Tommy Haas and Fernando Gonzales on t.v. Besides, I wanted to get a good night's rest for the Women's Singles final that will be tomorrow. In the meantime, Happy Australia Day to Bec McMillen and any other Australians who may be celebrating January 26! Cheers!


Colette Lewis said...

Hi Aussie:
There's been almost no eyewitness accounts of junior matches, so I appreciate your insights. Are you planning on attending the finals today?
Colette Lewis

aussietennis said...

Hi Colette,
Thanks for adding your comment. I am glad to know that you are interested in the junior matches, and understand your interest since you are from Kalamazoo. [I was interested in going to school there at one point since I knew of the great tennis tradition.] I am going to try to catch some of the Girls' Singles finals if I can, since it is scheduled to begin at 12:30, only an hour before the Women's finals. However, it was quite chilly and windy earlier, and was raining as well, so I am not sure what that will do to the scheduling. If I do get to see it, I will definitely post information about it.
btw, the Boys Singles finals will be part of the featured ticket following the Women's Singles and Men's Doubles finals. So I will definitely have news on that. An Australian boy named Brydan Klein will be playing the No. 2 seeded Jonathan Eysseric (FRA) in the finals.