Sights and sounds from Melbourne: Gearing up for the Australian Open

By James Crabtree

The countdown to the Australian Open has begun! January 14 is getting closer.

Not long to go now.

So, whats been happening?

Let’s just say Melbourne Park has been hectic, and its not just the renovations (indoor courts, clay courts, plexi courts, plunge pools, training rooms etc), which have been immense.

Firstly, whenever you are in Melbourne chances are somebody will say “it’s like four seasons in one day.” This is funny the first few times, then drives you up the wall, then you find yourself saying to somebody you think isn’t from here: “Did I mention Melbourne is like four seasons in one day?”

Anyway, the tennis.

Doubles legend Todd Woodbridge has been on court, seemingly everyday. More impressive than that is the fact the guy simply does not age, L’Oreal really needs to sign this guy up because he could have easily snuck into the under 18 event.

Speaking of juniors, there is a ton playing right now from the 12′s to the 18′s as part of the Optus Championships, and all trying to make their mark. Notable attendees at their matches have been U.S. college recruiters from some pretty big schools.

Australian No. 1 Marinko Matosevic has also seen working hard on the his court fitness drills with Greg Jones and the sort of trainer who should be yelling at people on The Biggest Loser.

Sam Stosur has been spotted drinking coffee in the cafeteria. Reports of what kind of coffee have yet to be verified although the barista believed it was a caffè latte with one sugar even though she wasn’t really paying attention. Consequently the same barista messed up my order, I wanted a mocha and got a cappuccino.

The world’s fastest server Sam Groth (with a record of 163.4 mph), has been on the practice court everyday and is looking very confident. The world’s 216th-ranked player should be a good bet to win next week’s December Showdown and claim the Australian Open Wild Card. Still don’t count out last year’s Showdown finalist though, James Duckworth, who made the second round of the Australian Open main draw and gave top 10 player Janko Tipsarevic a real scare.

That’s all from here for now. Did I mention Melbourne has four seasons in one day?

James Crabtree will be covering the December Showdown for the tournament’s website, and will also be covering next month’s Australian Open.

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