tennis ramblings

Ramblings from a Tennis Journalist: Australian Open Men’s Final Flashbacks

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.

By James Crabtree

MELBOURNE — The Australian Open is over, and Novak Djokovic has been crowned champion again winning his third title in a row.

A lot went on today, more than just Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic hitting a few balls.

A huge number of people arrived early to watch the game on the grounds, taking in some of the live music and consuming a seriously jolly amount of booze.

Within the cornered off zones the linesmen sat tensely in their portable offices watching TV, hoping later that they wouldn’t be ridiculed by Hawkeye.

The ball boys and girls meanwhile added each other to their various Facebook accounts or goofed about playing cricket with a tennis ball and, as a substitute for a bat, a diseased looking flip-flop possibly borrowed from a vagrant.

Things started to heat up early for the journalists securing their court passes for the big game. It’s amazing how many chose instead to watch the game, whether it a first round or final, down in one of the media hubs on their own personal screen. A plus side is the constant availability of stats; the negative is the lack of feel or atmosphere.

A walk through the corridors and all feels remarkably lonely compared to the hustle bustle of only a few days before. Like a summer hotel that attempts to stay open through the later seasons, looking after only a select few guests.

One of the guests is a former regular that now wears a suit, and happens to have a TV camera following him. He speaks to another more recent guest who carries a racquet bag in preparation of a hit. This guest wears a hoody, and seems a little in awe of the guy in the suit. They are Andre Agassi and Andy Murray respectively.

Back at the Media Hub the journalists again prepare, and what a sight. Some are cracking their knuckles for a tough night on the laptop. The others limber up their belts for an extra serving at the media café, which I must say are very generous.

Before you know it, it’s game time and some journalists find they haven’t prepared properly, even though they have been provided with a plethora of information both online or in print.

The match starts and all goes to form. Deep baseline rallies that evoke memories from Wilander to Agassi to Safin to present day and Djokovic. Nobody giving an inch, both wanting a mile.

A change of ends brings the KIA adverts, and I genuinely mean that I like them. Actually, I now want a KIA Sportage and even want a job with KIA. No, not as a mechanic, but thinking up cool adverts.

Ah, The Nappies.

Back to the tennis, no breaks of serve. Lots of baseline rallies, slides and amazing gets. Andy saves one break point with a 23 ball rally. Scottish and Serbian fans given up momentarily trying to electrify their man, neither has the patience.

The game stays the course. Tiebreak time. Andy Murray gets it and looks officially on his way to a heroic victory. He is playing great aggressive inspiring tennis and is not Scottish but British. Officially Great British in fact.

Change of ends, no breaks of serve. I spot Andre Agassi’s head in the presidential box and it is very shiny. The rumour that he is to star as Lt. Theo Kojak in the new season of Kojak is one I made up, but want to become true.

Hey did you hear that Andre Agassi is going to be in Kojak on TV?

Back to the tennis, four games all and Novak is talking to himself, at his box and bouncing his racquet on the ground. He is not happy, but still in the game, no breaks of serve yet…Speaking of servers, what happened to all the big servers and one-two punch of years past? Imagine a deck of cards with no Aces — that’s modern tennis. Boom Boom Becker would be rolling in his…big bed in Monte Carlo.

Another KIA advert, good but not as good as the nappies but still kinda cool.

If you stay in Australia long enough you become a citizen. You can fill out all the documents, learn the anthem, take the immigration test or simply have your name Aussiefied meaning it will have an ‘O’ inserted on the end of it.

This just happened for Novak who has just become ‘Doco!’ He is now an Australian.

Agassi watches intently as the 2nd set heads for a tiebreak, I’m tweeting too much and the 3g keeps dropping out on my phone. A true first world problem. Need 4g now, I can’t live like this.

Andy Murray is serving and a flock of seagulls (not the band) flying above interrupt his second serve with an errant feather that drifts down. Andy misses the serve and loses his focus.

Novak gets the second set. Andy looks distraught and has blisters. Andre looks impressed.

More holds of serve until Murray loses his at 3-4 down. Is this the match decider? Keyser Söze/Kevin Spacey looks worried. Everybody who has been going for Murray suddenly changes allegiance. Djokovic chases down everything, like Hewitt on drugs. Djokovic gets the set, his confidence flowing and breaks Murray. The match is all but over.

Djokovic is unbreakable. Murray is spent, losing points easily and thus England, Wales and Northern Island have given up on him meaning he is back to being Scottish.

After 3 hours and 40 minutes Novak claims victory and is soon screaming at his entourage in delight. Moments later some tech guy who looks like a bearded gamer dressed like a teenager is setting up the trophy island.

Some speeches later and Novak gets his trophy again from a former owner, Andre Agassi.

The 2013 Australian Open is over. All the winners have been decided. Congratulations Novak.

The quickest way to a journalist’s heart is through his stomach. Djokovic talks about his victory then goes round the press conference room and hands out chocolates. A bad word will never be printed about Novak again — what a genius! Raise your game Roger and Andy, the press need chocolates. This is not bribery but necessity.

P.S. Real good chocolates and see you next year Aussie Open, miss you already.