By James Crabtree
It really is hard to comprehend how much work goes into staging a grand slam. Everyone is hustling and bustling and breaking into a sweat, from workman in hardhats to stressed out suits. Offices are moving locations, sponsorship boards are being put into place and players are trying secure practice courts or just a comfy seat to rest their weary bones.
Chances are if you ask any of the players playing in the December Showdown, if they have read a book recently, they will say it is ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. On top of that erotic bombshell, the majority carry five racquets, listen to hard thumping house music and enjoy Will Ferrell movies. Matthew Barton was the true exception claiming an appreciation for Michael J. Fox.
On the courts, the only sound Sam Groth heard during his first match was his own. During much of his loss to the number 4 junior in the world, Nicholas Kyrgios, Groth provided a play by play narrative of his troubles. Kyrgios — who reminded one onlooking coach of a tall David Nalbandian — handled the fastest server in the world with relative ease, proving why he might be a name to be remembered in years to come.
One player to avoid an upset was Greg Jones who came back from two sets to love down to defeat Michael Look 2-6 4-6 7-5 6-4 6-4 in three and a half hours. The last time the very relieved Jones lost a five set match was the 2012 Australian Open, when he was two sets to love up against Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Two-time junior grand slam champion Luke Saville started his campaign with a win over Andrew Whittington that included the longest tie break he had ever played in winning the fourth set. After the match, he was quick to speak on his desire to not only rise up the rankings, but to one day also get the call from Pat Rafter of representing his country for Davis Cup. Based on today’s performance, that call shouldn’t be too far away.
By the way, the weather in Melbourne officially didn’t reach four seasons although it was blustery then hot, hotter and then stinging …
(James Crabtree is currently in Melbourne Park for the December Showdown and giving us the scoop on all the latest news surrounding the Australian Open. Check out his first installment of “Sights and Sounds” here.)