Tennis Canapes: Hitting the courts with Djokovic, Sharapova and Del Potro

James Crabtree is currently in Melbourne Park covering the Australian Open for Tennis Grandstand and is giving you all the scoop directly from the grounds.

Maria Sharapova signing autographs for fans after her win

By James Crabtree

MELBOURNE — The day started well, I got an email from a very noble Nigerian who alerted me to the fact I had inherited $2 million U.S. dollars. So sweet of him to seek me out, will definitely chase that up later.

After a quick brekkie I skipped out like a happy smurf on to Melbourne Park for what turned out to be a canapé kind of day. What on earth do I mean you ask? Simply sampling, a bit of this and a bit of that. And let me tell you that the Australian Open app only forces you to court hop even more.

I started with Nicolás Almagro who was up against fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver. This was a one sided affair for Almagro which meant constant checking of the app for updates elsewhere. Radwanska, Kerber and Venus Williams all dominated quickly as the top seeded women do, except Stosur but more on that later.

Seriously, how about some more upsets? I am starting to believe it was a mistake since Wimbledon 2001 to increase the number of seeds from 16 to 32 and thus in many ways limit the chance for an upset.

Digression over, I hung around for Li Na but it was clear she was going to oust Govortsova although the tall girl with a dodgy serve made a respectable effort in the second set.

A quick walk out of the Hisense arena brought me to Stepanek resting on one court while Del Potro was practicing serves on another. Every time I have seen Del Potro practice, which is now five times, he is always serving. In fact I am starting to believe he doesn’t even practice groundstrokes.

On another playing court was Jurgen Melzer who looked in control against spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, so I skipped that one (even though it did go to five sets). Just beyond that match was another practice court this one showcasing Maria Sharapova, with fans hurdled around like she was handing out free candy — perhaps even “Sugarpova.”

That brought me to lunch although no canapés were on offer. Within the confines of the media restaurant journalists readily stuff their faces. It should be noted that a notable Australian doubles legend, who is commentating, didn’t disappoint. He returned twice (according to the girl working) for a serving of fries with a sweet soy sauce that was scooped from the depth of a bok choy chicken dish. That’s right, no vegetables or meat, just carbs and gravy which may be the secret to his eternal youth.

Back to the infamous Australian Open app and decision making. David Ferrer on Margaret Court or Stan the Man Wawrinka on Show Court 2? I chose Stan, just had to see that backhand, sorry David. Each set Stan was broken he kept his nerve and fought back, although a third set wasn’t needed against Kamke who retired.

On the way out of the Stan match I was greeted with the big screen showing big Berd(ych) cruising. Also worthy of a cruise and a round of Pimms was Tomas Berdych’s old school “lets go yachting” attire and its lack of a sponsor. He wore a plain white collared shirt and hat that felt ever so 1950. The logo on his hat was covered and his socks folded down to disguise a brand, with the only sign of sponsorship being his Nike shoes. “Good show old chap, good show.”

After another quick check of the app and a failed attempt to use the live streaming to watch Jerzy Janowicz playing out his epic two set down comeback against Somdev Devvarman, I finally moved onto the Margaret Court arena. Here David Ferrer ranked 5 and seeded 4, played against lucky loser and sister of Tennis Grandstand writer Tim Smyczek, ranked 125. Smyczek was hoping for his second win against a top twenty player, the first being Jurgen Melzer at Delray Beach last year. The little Spaniard (who really is that little) was his typically energetic self and ran out the win in four entertaining sets although Smyczek should be commended for his efforts.

Next, I gallantly shunned the Stosur match because I attended her first round exit last year and somehow felt I was an unlucky omen for her if I was there to watch. Omen or not she lost her second round match to Chinese player Jie Zheng. But as I wasn’t in attendance, Stosur’s loss is officially not my fault this time.

Over at Rod Laver arena was Djokovic, who avoided becoming the first defending champion to lose in the 2nd round since Mats Wilander back in 1989. The honour of joining that fateful club was never an issue against Ryan Harrison. Interestingly, this loss extended Harrison’s streak of losing to seeded players in grand slams to eight, although nobody could have beaten Nole on this night.

That brought me to the close of the evening where it was time to head home, charge the phone, get ready for the mega heat and tomorrow’s action – Davy and Fed, Serena and her dodgy ankle, Tomic, Murray in his tight shirt, Laura Robson and Kvitova! And, of course, time to sort out the $2 million dollars from the noble Nigerian.

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