missing melbourne

(moving time yet again. shifting this thing I wrote sometime early this year regarding my experience at the aussie open when i watched it with my twister and paparazzi partner. man, i miss stalking those players and hounding them for their autographs. i think that was the most fun part of the open. perhaps i would be able to watch again sometime in the future.)

Now that the 2009 Australian Open is just about to end, I suddenly realised that I miss Melbourne. I was fortunate enough to have been able to watch the Aussie Open in 2007 and that experience was totally unbelievable.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

I watched the 2007 Australian Open with my younger sister (who we shall call Sisterhood). We flew in from Hamilton and had a brief stop over in Sydney. Mom suggested that we stay in Sydney for a few hours so we could see the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. At first, Sisterhood and I were hesitant because we really wanted to be at the tennis grounds and watch the games but — well, we did stay a while in Sydney and did not regret doing that. I swear, the minute I laid my eyes on the Sydney Opera House, and then later on, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I just wanted to cry. It just felt so surreal. I mean, I’ve always heard about those and have seen them on film a couple of times (Finding Nemo) and I just never thought that I would be able to actually see both … Up Close! Those two structures were absolutely beautiful.Yes, I’m shallow like that.

Sydney Opera House

We walked around the little quay and just absorbed the wonder that was Sydney. No, I did not get sore feet at Sydney. I did, however, get Sore Arms! Man it was sooo hot at Sydney – after being exposed to the sun for about … an hour, my upper arms were as red as lobsters! I think I had a heat stroke afterwards because when we finally arrived at Melbourne, I was feverish and my arms were just so sore! I thought I would die. Seriously! The skin was so tender I felt that I’d just peel like a banana at any minute. Sisterhood and I had to look for a superette just so I could get enough lotion to slather all over my arms. Never again would I walk around unprotected like that!

My Federbear holding the ticket jacket signed by Roger Federer

Anyhu … Melbourne was amazing.Well … let me rephrase that because honestly, I can’t say Melbourne was amazing because I was only at the tennis arena so here goes … The tennis was amazing! The atmosphere was intense yet everyone was so friendly. It was great fun just watching the fans! Some had their faces painted, some came in totally ridiculous attires, some came in droves and some came on their own.

Naturally, the first thing Sisterhood and I did upon entering the whole arena was to watch one of the tennis matches that was being held at the outdoor courts. Our tickets were for the quarters, semis and finals and – at that time, the quarterfinals have not yet started.

Sisterhood and I were busy watching a doubles match between some Russians I do not know when my phone rang. I had to get out to take that call and while I was chatting away outside the outdoor court, I saw someone who looked strangely familiar at the opposite open court. When I returned to my seat, I told Sisterhood that I thought I saw Andy Roddick outside. Sisterhood was a bit doubtful but she went out just the same, with my camera. I knew she struck gold when she didn’t return to finish the doubles match.

Sunblocked Andy

Afterwards, we found out through other fans that the players often play or practice in selected outdoor courts – and that lowly fans, such as ourselves, can actually sit there and watch! Somehow, we managed to find out where the courts were and who would be practicing when. Thus … our lives as pseudo-paparazzi began.

Man, stalking those players for photos and autographs was so much fun! I think that was even more fun than watching the matches itself! I swear, I think we camped out at the courts where Roger Federer was supposed to practice just so we could catch a glimpse of the MASTER in action (and get a photo and of course, an autograph as well). If memory serves me right, we stalked Roger Federer at all of his practice sessions, just so we could get him to sign Federbear.

2007 Australian Open Champion, Roger Federer from Switzerland

We succeeded but his was the last one we secured. He was always so serious during practice sessions and would just sign a few autographs afterwards then go. So whenever our quest for the ever elusive R-Fed signature failed, we would go around the arena and hound other players for their John Hancocks (or just so we could see them). We saw:

2007 Australian Open Runner Up and 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist, Chilean Fernando Gonzales

At first no one cared about his practice sessions, but when he started to gain momentum and began beating big name players, more and more people started following him around.

Pretty pretty and very friendly Czech Nicole Vaidisova

No, seriously, she was very friendly. I think she recognised Sisterhood (that’s half her face in the picture) and I from previous practice sessions because she walked straight towards us and gave us her autograph. She’s the complete polar opposite of …

Former World No. 1 Maria ShriekaSharapova

Garrr! Not only did she come in late for her practice session, she didn’t even finish her practice set! And she left in a hurry. Hmpft! Incidentally, that’s not our paper she’s signing. Close up photo courtesy of my 300mm lens (which were not supposed to be used inside the tennis grounds).

World No. 1 Spaniard Rafael ‘Vamos’ Nadal

Naku! So hard to squeeze into his practice court! But we managed to do that and Sisterhood was able to take this picture. I was able to get a short video of him (via my phone) where I squeaked a lousy “Good Luck Rafael” as he walked past. Good luck my foot! Of course I didn’t want him to win. I was rooting for Roger who, incidentally, looked good without his shirt on.


Yep. Lookit that ripped badeh! Mmmm …Yummy! However, his physique, beautiful as it was, was no match to that of …

Germany’s Hunkadude, Tommy Haas

Hahahaha! Sisterhood and I got so tired of seeing Tommy Haas and Fernando Gonzales during that 5 days we were at Melbourne! They were everywhere! Everytime we camped out at a practice court waiting for RFed, they would either be at the next court or at that court, just about to finish their session. Tommy has this freaky fan who had about a gazillion photos and magazines of Tommy Haas with him and he actually asked Tommy to sign them ALL! I think that guy was planning on building a shrine of Tommy somewhere in his basement or something. Strange. You really do meet all sorts of people when you go to these things.

Sisterhood was able to get Tommy’s autograph on a ball that he actually used during his practice session! We were there, watching him play and when he was done, his coach turned to us and said “would you like his balls?” Hahahaha! Naturally, we said “Yes Please!!!” so he handed over two (or was it one, i don’t remember) Tommy’s practice balls to us! Darn it! I thought he was referring to another set of balls! Hahahaha! That was funny.

We skipped the Aussie Open in 2008, which was fine because Djokovic won that year. Damn tummy bug! Had it not been for that ailment, Roger would have flown through that tournament as well.

*Sigh* I miss doing all those. I miss the crowd, I miss stalking the players, I miss the cheap t-shirts, the excitement, the adventures, having to squeeze into a tightly packed tram, looking for something decent to eat .. I miss Melbourne. I do not, however, miss the heat. I heard that it was 42oC the other day – when I heard that, I was so glad I wasn’t there. Never mind the players, I’d choose being comfy over stalking other people any time.Oh well, at least I was able to experience that – and that’s all that matters.


Author: Viv Phillips

That's not exactly a flattering image. Eh! Anyway, when I'm not taking photos, I do acrylic painting or write about my adventures (and misadventures) in this wonderful journey called life. :)

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