Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Day 2: Extreme Heat Policy in effect

If you watched any of the matches on day 2, you probably know that they had to invoke the "Extreme Heat Policy." Before they did, I managed to see several matches or parts of matches, I should say. I had been forewarned that it would be quite hot. In fact, I spoke with a student at Ormond College (where I am staying as an Academic Visitor) who said that she and her friends had decided not to go to Tuesday's matches because it was supposed to be so hot--perhaps 37 degrees C. As it turned out, the on-court temps were estimated to be about 118 F. and that proved to be problematic to more than one player. If you saw any of Sharapova's match vs. Camille Pin, of France, you know that it almost led to Sharapova's upset.

Just one thing from Day 1 that I need to address, and that was what I thought was the slightly exaggerated coverage of the "rioting" between Croats and Serbs (I reported it was Slovenians). Apparently, this was more serious than I originally understood, as it was reported in The Age under the title of "Gangs warn of more ethnic violence today at Melbourne Park." Apparently, it was premeditated as some groups of fans (Croats and Serbs) planned to meet up at the tennis, and reportedly (the Serbs) hoped to stab a few Croats. Obviously, bottle throwing was the least of it. It reminded me of how American telecasts of Baghdatis' match last year reported on the groups of cheering Greek and Cypriot fans (according to today's paper, some of the Greek fans also aligned with the Serbs); while American coverage reported it as harmless cheering, Dr. A (from Bowling Green) interpreted some of what was being said as less than harmless (death to the opponents). My original impression was that this was something like the Ohio State fans encountering Michigan fans, but perhaps this is a bit more serious? Or not.

Back to the tennis on Tuesday, upon arrival, I had to buy a grounds pass but found there were no tix for the evening play (since two Aussies were scheduled, I guess that was no surprise). As it turned out, I stayed only four hours, until the Extreme Heat rule went into effect, deciding that I would go home and watch the remainder on t.v. I did get my ticket validated to come back in case I got re-energized, but ended up sleeping through until this a.m. The first match I caught on Tuesday was between Laura Granville (Stanford, I think she won the NCAA championship one year) and Yulia Beygelzimer, of the Ukraine. Granville won the first set, I believe it was 6-2. Her play reminds me of Gretchen Magers formerly of Trinity University, and another NCAA champ in the 1980s. It was obvious that the heat was a factor. Players applied ice bags to their necks while they sat on the side during changeovers.

During Granville's match, I could hear quite a bit of noise coming from other courts, so decided to check it out after the first set. On a nearby court, Robby Ginepri (US) was playing Nicolas Almagro, from Spain. Almagro won the first set, 6-4 but Ginepri was up 4-1 in the second. I stayed for several games since I was starting to feel like I needed to get out of the sun. As I wandered back to the Rod Laver Arena, I caught a few points from different matches: Juan Ignacio Chela (ARG) vs. Potito Starace (ITA); and Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) vs. Sybille Bammer (AUT) who were about to go to a third set.

Inside Rod Laver Arena, I decided to walk around just to stay out of the heat, and in the chance that someone might be willing to relinquish a pass to the matches (no such luck:-). Sharapova was about to split sets when I arrived, and after she did, I decided to watch the third set from inside the arena on one of the big screens. There was a big screen outside as well, but even the shade would not make that as bearable. It did not take Sharapova long to go up 5-0, and appeared that it would be over quickly, until Camille Pin slowly worked her way back into the match, evening the score and then going ahead. Although the score was tied at 6-all, the Australian Open has the final set played out, which meant that Pin went ahead 7-6 on her serve. Somehow, although Sharapova was in obvious distress, she managed to pull herself together to break Pin's serve and win the next two games to win the match. As the third set progressed, the crowd that was watching the big screen really grew as well. By the end of the match, I looked behind to see that about 50-75 people had gathered to watch the end of the match. There was quite a bit of cheering for points, mostly for Pin. But there were still some excited Sharapova fans who cheered loudly when she won.

After Sharapova's match, they announced that the Extreme Heat rule would be in effect and it would take 25 minutes to close the roof before Nadal's match would begin. The ruling had been invoked on the outer courts, except where matches were already underway. The only match that was still being played featured David Nalbandian (ARG) and Janko Tipsarevic (SRB). Nalbandian was about to secure the fourth set, leading 5-0 when I sat down in Margaret Court Arena. Nalbandian won the fourth set to go into a fifth, and played to about 3-2 when Tipsarevic retired (no doubt due to the heat:-). With that, I too decided to retire due to the heat, and headed back on the tram to Ormond College. I figured that I could get lunch (or dinner) and watch the remainder on t.v, except that I fell asleep and ended up doing neither. Which brings me to Day 3... and now it is time for me to get going if I hope to see today's matches. Good day, for now!

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