greta arn

Paris Tennis Diary: From the Photo Pit

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a professional tennis photographer covering the ATP and WTA tours, scrambling to capture the top players, racing back to edit and post your photos and catching the best angle on tennis? Our resident photographer Rick Gleijm has been in Paris all week covering the WTA Open GDF Suez tournament featuring players such as Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic, and Na Li. This is his personal and candid feature “Tennis Diary: From the Photo Pit.”

Check out all of Rick’s photo galleries from Paris this week! Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.


Sunday, February 4, 2012

Yesterday really wasn’t my day. I woke up at 2 am to make my way to Paris on the icy roads, but it had already been a terrible winter’s day the day before. I arrived to the Stade de Coubertin in Paris just to find out the tournament wasn’t ready to receive press. Wrong accreditation, no press center, no internet connection and worst of all, no parking spot. Since I didn’t fancy to leave most of my belongings in my car in a very expensive, but public garage, and also didn’t like the prospect of lugging around 20 kilos of equipment (and $20,000 in value as well!) I decided to check into my hotel early and try it again in the morning. Some things are just unexpected bumps in the road!

Sunday February 5, 2012

6:30 am: Woke up this morning to a very white world! As if I didn’t have  enough problems getting to Paris yesterday, I have to drive a few kilometers to the tournament site from my hotel. Usually I am happy to stay a little further away from the site, in a quieter place, but now that means I have to travel over snowy roads. Roads? Well, there were some cars driving on a white plain, so I guess I must be on the road… Luckily the circumstances meant even the French will drive carefully.

9:45 am: Arrived at the venue without any more scratches or dents. I even found a safe and guarded parking spot right across from the entrance of the Stade de Coubertin. As I approached the accreditations desk, I noticed the staff was happily waving my prepared media card, the press center was open, the Wi-Fi was working —  the tournament could start for me now! First up is to take a few shots from the second-round qualification matches before I go to the draw ceremony at 11:oo am.

[singlepic id=3377 w=320 h=240 float=right]1:05 pm: Quickly went to see a couple of points of the first two qualifying matches of the day and tried to take a couple of shots on court, but discovered the lighting is horrendous. On center court, there is a strange yellow/red glow around everything, while on court one everything is green. I took some time to adjust my camera settings but totally forgot about the time and thus, the draw ceremony. I quickly made my way to the VIP-village for the draw ceremony, but got completely lost in the corridors of the Stade de Coubertin. Thanks to a very nice hostess, I managed to arrive in time, just to find out everything was delayed for 15 minutes. After the draw, it was back to court one for Lepchenko versus Domachowska. I still had trouble getting my camera settings right, so that means there will be a lot of post-processing on my part to adjust for the color shift. The next match I’ll shoot will be Mattek-Sands, so that leaves me with a bit of time to edit some work.

4:55 pm: Shot the last three matches. After a time, the ligh on Center Court becam very decent after all. I will be doing some post-processing for Tennis Grandstand first and  see if I can upload the pictures, before trying to slide back to the hotel where I can make a back-up of the portfolio. I do need to find some place to eat though — noticed there is a big M nearby so perhaps I’ll try that. I have survived a tournament or two just on junk food, so that’ll be no problem — although I may then easily star in the sequel to the movie “Supersize Me”. Starting tomorrow though, the tournament will offer full hospitality, so that’s one less worry.

Monday, February 6, 2012

[singlepic id=3407 w=251 h=188 float=left]9:30 am: Matches start at 12:00 pm today, so I was able to stay in bed a little longer, but that rarely happens at tournaments. Usually the qualification tournament finishes in the morning to make way for first-round matches in the afternoon. In Paris though, today will only feature the finals of the singles qualification tournament and one main draw doubles match with Lucie Safarova and Klara Zakopalova. Anyway, made myself a cup of coffee and went on my way to the site!

11:55 am: As luck would have it, I arrived at Stade de Coubertin together with Jelena Jankovic, but regrettably had my gear in my trunk so no candid photo opportunity with the Serbian. Some parking problems again, but I was saved by the lovely girls in the press center. Thank you ladies! Dumped my gear in the press center and went for my first match, Arn versus Muguruza Blanco. Hope I have plenty of time to catch before the end of the match between Brianti and Barrois.

[singlepic id=3380 w=215 h=161 float=right]1:05 pm: Checked the score on Center Court: Barrois is having Brianti for lunch! At the first possible change-over, I left Arn-Maguruza, just to witness the last couple of points by Barrois. Unable to get a decent shot of Brianti, I decided to wait it out on center court and stay for the start of Mattek-Sands versus Craybas.

2:15 pm: Went back to the press center to start editing the first three matches, but am keeping an eye out on the scores — don’t want to miss out on the last two matches. I’m hoping Craybas can make it a three-setter, and Barthel seems to have an easy start against Lepchenko.

3:05 pm: Time to get out of the press center and shoot the last two matches of the day. Everything turned out just fine: when Barthel was finished, I left for center court and the doubles teams were just being introduced.

5:05 pm: Back in the press center now to finish the pictures for Tennis Grandstand. Funny story:  as I was walking back to the press center, I went by the WTA players’ desk where I saw Julia Goerges and Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova explaining that they were really players and that they were on the entry list. “Look right here, that’s my name on the list, Julia.”…….. It was quite a site to witness.

7:00 pm: Finished for the day, time to go back to the hotel.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

10:55 am: Today is sure to be busier. I arrived at the tournament, set up my laptop, readied my photo gear, and went to see Cetkovska versus Brianti. When the second set of Zahlavova-Strycova versus Barthel began, I moved over to center court.

12:25 pm: Back at the press center. Started post-processing pictures of first two matches, and have some time as Pironkova versus Li is not to start before 1:00 pm.

1:15 pm: The Pironkova vs. Li match has begun, but I have decided to go for the second set after Jankovic’s scheduled press conference – which should start soon. While waiting, I’m continuing work on photos.

[singlepic id=3421 w=100 h=75 float=left]2:00 pm: Jelena Jankovic arrived for her press conference to announce she was withdrawing from the tournament due to a left thigh strain she sustained in Fed Cup last week. I decided to then make my way over to the Pironkova vs. Li match. [singlepic id=3432 w=150 h=112 float=right]But, as irony would have it, at the change-over when I could finally enter the court, Na Li needed a medical timeout on her back. I took a couple of shots of Pironkova as she waited and tried to stay warm, bundled up in towels. When Li returned, I decided to stay with the Bulgarian for the game and then switch to Li. At 40-0, Li decided she couldn’t continue and had to retire from her match. So, no pictures of Li in action.

5:05 pm: With all that has happened, I almost forgot to update this! Not much currently happening though, just processing my pictures, uploading them etc., taking a few new ones along the way. Just when I nearly finished my editing, I noticed that I have to hurry if I want to take some photos at Goerges’ match. That girl is in a hurry to win!

[singlepic id=3420 w=150 h=112 float=left]5:45 pm: Got my pics. Am trying to finish them and upload them. There’ll be a post match interview which I’ll try to be present for as well. When I’m done with those I’ll call it a day.

WTA Paris Photo Gallery with Safarova, Zakopalova, Mattek-Sands

Follow professional tennis photographer Rick Gleijm as he covers the Open GDF SUEZ WTA Tour event in Paris this week. The gallery below includes day three qualifying matches as well as main draw doubles matches featuring Lucie Safarova, Klara Zakopalova, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Jill Craybas, Greta Arn and Varvara Lepchenko among others. For full qualification results, go here, and for full doubles results, go here.

Stay tuned all week for full coverage in Paris and catch Rick at the ATP Rotterdam tournament next week! And make sure to check out his feature “Paris Tennis Diary: From the Photo Pit.”

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Estoril Open: Anabel Medina Garrigues takes home Estoril Open 2011 crown

By Luís Santos

Saturday at the Estoril Open, the day for the women’s singles’ final.

The final Estoril Open match featured the more experienced Anabel Medina Garrigues, who was  looking to match Venus Williams´ record of most clay titles by an active player, and the German Kristina Barrois.

Barrois has been in good form all week and defeated top seed Alisa Kleybanova. Medina Garrigues ousted quite a few seeded players on her way to the Estoril Open finals as well. She took out eight seed Greta Arn and third seed Klara Zakopalova in straight sets.

But today, none of that mattered as Medina Garrigues set up one-sided match with her solid play. Barrois seemed to feel the moment and never really played her best tennis, missing routine groundstrokes and losing the bite on her usually great sliced backhand.

Despite suffering from a back injury, which required a medical timeout at 4-1 in the first set, the Spaniard never looked back and took the set 6-1.

In the second set, Barrois was down 3-0 right from the start. She fought her way back into the set and the match, coming back to 3-2. A disruption by rain forced a delay in the match but again Medina proved too strong for her opponent  taking the set, the match and winning the Estoril Open tournament. Final score was 6-1 6-2. It was her 10th career trophy but her first one since Fes 2009.

The champion’s first words on court were: “Oh my back. At 4-2 in the first set I did this change of direction and I felt it. I hurt my back. In the last two points of the match it was hurting a lot.”

On her win today and its meaning as the player with most clay tournaments together with Venus Williams: “I’m very happy for matching Venus’ record, she’s a great player. I’m also thrilled to be the best among my countrywomen.”

And finally on her Estoril choice: “I’m very happy to have come here. It’s almost like playing home because we’re almost the same country, so. I’m happy to have won because I had a tough last year and would like to thank my coach, because he’s been there through my highs and lows.”

Runner-up Barrois complimented her opponent and acknowledged her own shortcomings during the match: “It was a difficult match for me, I didn’t play well today but Anabel played very well, so well done! I hope to come back next year. Thanks for the organization; they did a very good job.”


Estoril Open: Juan Martin Del Potro survives first round scare

By Luís Santos

Women’s Defending Champion Out! Mixed Fortunes For Portuguese

Sun-grilled after a day at the Estoril venue, the biggest news in the women’s field was the departure of defending champion Anastasija Sevastova.

Under soaring temperatures for spring in Lisbon, Urszula Radwanska went toe-to-toe with 2010 champion Sevastova but it still wasn’t enough as the Latvian put an end to the first set 7-5. Second set was pretty much the same story with Sevastova finally gaining the edge to go up 6-5 on her serve. But it wasn’t to be as the younger Radwanska broke back and went on to claim the tiebreak 7-5. A deflated Sevastova had little in her tank to withstand the increasingly confident Polish and eventually lost 6-1.

Radwanska will now play Johanna Larsson of Sweden in the second round.

Also struggling today but managing to emerge victorious was Greta Arn.

The German was the 2007 winner and today faced off Portuguese wildcard Maria João Koehler. On paper it should have been a walk in the park but Koehler has stormed through the ITFs. The result? A three set tussle.

The German was solid during the first set as Koehler sprayed balls everywhere and eventually claimed the set 6-2.

After remaining close through the first four games, MJK finally started gearing up and went up 5-2. Arn closed the gap to 5-3 but after a highly disputed game, Koehler ended the rally with a dropshot to take the set 6-3.

As the third set rolled on, Arn stepped up as MJK lost steam. Arn went up 3-1 as the Portuguese complained of cramps to her legs and committed an array of errors. Koehler still managed to level proceedings at 3 all but from there on the Portuguese started misfiring repeatedly and Arn took her chances to win 6-2 3-6 6-3.

Next for the German will be clay court specialist Anabel Medina Garrigues who surprisingly stopped Romanian Simona Halep in two tiebreaks.

Also moving on was Jarmila Gajdosova who after a slow start, took eight games in a row to clinch a 6-4 6-0 winner over Czech Renata Voracova. Gajdosova now meets countrywoman Casey Dellacqua for a place in the quarterfinals.

Number three seed Klara Zakopalova was also among the winners on sunny Tuesday as she dispatched Beatriz Garcia Vidagany.

Other winners on day two included Kristina Barrois, Anastasia Yakimova and American Sloane Stephens. Stephens played compatriot Melanie Oudin but the latter was never in control of the match. Stephens and Oudin would methodically enroll in baseline duels with Oudin taking the initiative to go for the winner. Stephens, however, would slice, dropshot or make a blasting stroke to reset the point or gain advantage. As the match wore on Oudin was out of sorts and the less mediatic American won 6-2 6-1.

Gil advances. Pedro Sousa Out

After the departure of crowd favorite Koehler early on, all eyes were on Frederico Gil, who took the court mid-afternoon.

The Portuguese never looked unsettled during the 87 minute contest as he brushed aside Flavio Cipolla of Italy 6-3 6-2. Next up for the Portuguese will be the mighty Fernando Verdasco, the second seed this week.

Worst Luck had young prodigy Pedro Sousa. Despite battling it out with Juan Martin Del Potro for almost two hours, the Argentinian proved too good in the end. Even so, the Portuguese number 488th claimed the second set to the former US Open champion, losing a mere nine points on serve. In the end experience mattered most and Del Potro took the match 6-2 3-6 6-3.

Next up for Del Potro is Colombian Alejandro Falla who won after his opponent Pablo Andujar retired with a lower back injury. The score was 4-6 6-1 4-4.

Mixed results for the Brazilians as well. While Thomaz Bellucci defeated Frederik Nielsen 7-5 6-1 after being down 2-5, Marcos Daniel wasn’t so lucky as he went out to qualifier Eduardo Roger-Vasselin of France.

Rising star Milos Raonic was also in action today as he took on Igor Andreev on Centralito. Raonic was impeccable on serve winning 75% of the points with the first serve and saving all eight break points against him. Andreev faltered once each set to hand the Canadian a 6-4 6-4 win 1 hour and 24 minutes.

Other winners today in the men’s side included Carlos Berlocq and Pablo Cuevas. Berlocq will meet fourth seed Gilles Simon while Cuevas will take on third seed Joe-Wilfrid Tsonga on Centralito.