Aussie Open Days 12 and 13 with the adidas Player Development Program

Day 12 and 13

This entry is a combined entry of the past 2 days of watching the future of tennis. As Mats had mentioned about the locker room yesterday, I am not quietly sitting down and reflecting on the past month. We have now been in Australia for 2 months and if you have never been I can suggest coming to this wonderful country. The people are very friendly and the Australian Open is the best tournament in the world. You would not want to miss this if you are a big fan of tennis.

Yesterday we watched the semi finals of Tiago Fernandes and Laura Robson. It is interesting to see their developments and they both won their matches and made it into the final. Tiago beat Giani Mina from France and he was almost down and out being down a set and 2-5 in the tie-break but when Tiago hit an on the run forehand passing shot you could see the momentum change. Mina is going to be a player of the future to watch as well and maybe that matchup should have been the final.

Laura made it a little easier into the final and beating Kristyna Pliskova 3 and 1. It was very windy today and you could see that there was little rhythm so when I sent a text to Laura to congratulate her on her win she told me she was going to go for a hit with Martijn Bok, her coach, on a indoor court to get some rhythm.

Fans make a sign before heading into the stands.

Fans make a sign before heading into the stands.

Since the semi final of the men’s did not take place until the evening at 7:30 p.m. we had a chance to go into the gym again. I must say that I have missed the workouts and I am trying to get in shape so I can start hitting some balls again. Yesterday Mats and Martijn had a hit on the indoor courts. Since it is so quiet now, it almost seems like a different tournament. Now we get all the freedom to move around the facility and have a chance to relax a bit. Some of the fans were watching the tennis but also prepping for their main man in making their fan signs.

Looking up at the big screen from Federation Square

Looking up at the big screen from Federation Square

After getting back to the hotel Mats and I changed quickly to walk over to Federation Square to watch the match between Federer and Tsonga. And again Federer was just too good and made Tsonga look bad. After the match Federer gave an interview and he was so relaxed and confident that I have to say that it is going to be a tough match for Murray. Ever since I met and worked with Federer in 1997, this will be the first time that I will be cheering for one of Roger’s opponents instead of Him. Andy is a new member of the adidas team and it would be great to see him break the British Grand Slam drought of the past 74 years.

The crowd gathers in Federation Square to watch Federer vs. Tsonga

The crowd gathers in Federation Square to watch Federer vs. Tsonga

DAY 13

Today we got a chance to sleep in, after the past 3 weeks we did not get a chance to do so and this time we took advantage of our time off. Yes believe it or not we are now not working for adidas and we are now on our own bill. You would think that maybe we would go home as soon as our responsibilities were over. Instead we stay around because both Mats and I enjoy and love the sport we work in and it would be a shame if we would not be here and see the finals of the 2 juniors that we have been following for the past years.

Tiago Fernandes celebrates winning the Aussie Open Junior title.

Tiago Fernandes celebrates winning the Aussie Open Junior title.

Tiago started today at 1 p.m. and he won his first slam of his young career. He turned 17 yesterday and had a very good win on his birthday but today he outperformed the finalist from Australia. I believe Tiago is making great progress and he is getting stronger every time I see him. In his speech he thanked everybody from his coach and the tournament sponsors and officials. He took the time to even thank Mats and I when he stood on center court holding his trophy of the 2010 Australian Open championships.

Tiago Fernandes holds his trophy after winning the Aussie Open Junior title

Tiago Fernandes holds his trophy after winning the Aussie Open Junior title

Laura was not at the winning end today as she faced a very strong opponent in the twin sister of the girl she beat in the semi-final. Karonlina Pliskova is defiantly a girl to watch for the future of the women’s game. She has a big serve and for being as tall as she is maybe 6’2”, she was retrieving extremely well. Laura lost the first set in 22 mins and this was much too fast for a final. Because of the weapons and the powerful game of her opponent, it took Laura far too long to adjust and she could not find her rhythm. She was not able to get back into the match until the middle of the 2nd set when she broke back to get back on serve. So when it came to the tie-break it was Laura who was leading and had changed a bit of the momentum of the match as she was leading 4-1. However, she lost the next 5 points in a row and this a little too much of course, but she did get to 6 all. In the end she hit a double fault and handed the win to Karolina who was very lucky to get away with this win.

Mats and Sven make their own 2010 Aussie stamp.

Mats and Sven make their own 2010 Aussie stamp.

Mats and I thought we would walk over to get our stamps made, a nice souvenir of this year’s Australian Open and as I am writing today’s entry Mats is back on court and having another work out with Martijn.

I am looking forward to the match of Serena and Justine and I am sure many of you will wonder about the state of tennis in the women’s game. However, I want to give the credit to Justine instead because she stopped as the number 1 player in the world and she has come back as strong or maybe even stronger than before. So may the best one win today and enjoy a great match between 2 great champions.

Tomorrow we hope to get a chance to go to the match of Andy versus Roger and if we do we will make a full match report on that match. All the best for now and look forward to another day off at the tennis.

Mats and Sven

Day 11 at the Aussie Open with Sven and Mats from the adidas Player Development Program

The Locker-Rooms

Sometimes it is great to hang out in the locker rooms. You get to hear some funny inside stories and see things you usually wouldn’t.

There are 2 different locker rooms at the Australian Open — Locker Room A and Locker Room B.

If you work on the ATP side you receive a credential that allows you into Locker Rooms A and B. Locker Room A is a bit smaller, and only the player and one member of his support team are allowed in there. The players are usually preparing themselves for the match. They are preparing their special drinks, putting new overgrips on their racquets and getting ready mentally as well. It is very special to see how they have some rituals in common and how each player does his own special thing prior to the match.

Last year when Fernando Verdasco made it into the second week and advanced to the semis here, Sven and I got our credential changed, so we could get access to Locker Room A. We only could get this access because it was quieter in the second week and fewer players and support team members were there. Last year, we initially had our credentials with Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic.

Working on the WTA side with a player means you only have access to Locker Room B because you are not working with a male player.

However, Locker Room B is sometimes more popular than Locker Room A because you have more space, and you are not sharing with too many other players. Andy Roddick, for example, had his locker in Locker Room A. He was always preparing for his match in there with his coach, Larry Stefanki, and also doing his physio.

To make sure nothing is stolen or disappears, there are two gentlemen, Anthony and Ross, who are in charge of unlocking and locking the lockers. They basically share a 24/7 job during the tournament. Their day starts at 6 a.m. and ends two hours after the last match has finished. If you want to know about long days, you should ask them. They are doing an unbelievable job and whenever I walk in there, one of them is there and asks me the question, “Unlock 53, Mats?” So obviously after a certain time they know you and your locker.

The inside of Mats' locker #53 at the Aussie Open.

The inside of Mats' locker #53 at the Aussie Open.

Jobs like this are often underestimated, and I think we owe them a big thank you for the great job that they do. They must be exhausted after those more or less three weeks of work.

Apart from hanging out in Locker Room B, we also got to watch some junior matches. Laura Robson and Tiago Fernandes, both with adidas, were playing, and we were watching some other very talented players as well of course.

Maria Kirilenko also was on to play her doubles semifinal together with Agnieszka Radwanska. They were playing Cara Black and Liezel Huber. Unfortunately they lost in three sets. It was very windy and Black/Huber are not easy opponents. They were really in Maria’s and Agnieszka’s face the entire match even when they lost the second set 1-6 Black/Huber were running back to their bench, as if they had won the second set 6-1. That’s also why they are so good at what they do. They are very professional.

But I think Maria should still be confident with a quarterfinal in singles and a semifinal in doubles, she had a very good run over the last two weeks. Let’s cross fingers for her and hope she won’t get injured and will be able to maintain that level of very good tennis.

Have a great day,

Mats

Day 10 at the Aussie Open with Sven and Mats from the adidas Player Development Program

Since our time in Australia is coming to an end, Mats and I will be reporting a little less news on the blog. We would like to thank you for taking the time to read our daily activities, and because we have only one of our players in the tournament we will be slowing down a lot.

Sven and Mats have some down time at the Australian Open.

Sven and Mats have some down time at the Australian Open.

Yesterday was a day of walking around the grounds, and in the second week there are fewer players in the tournament and fewer people roaming the grounds. It is always a special feeling in the second week of a slam.

When you arrive at the site and are walking in the corridors, it is much more quiet, and it is also a sad feeling because you realize it is coming to an end. Everything becomes easier, from booking practice courts to getting transportation to getting new balls for practices.

We wanted to watch some juniors because this is where the new generation is preparing for the big world of tennis. They are playing on the outside courts, and you have to do quite a bit of walking to cover all the courts from Court 20 to Court 10. Rod Laver Arena stands between these courts, and it takes at least 10 minutes before you reach the other side of the site.

The weather has been extremely mild this year, so it has been very pleasant for fans, players and coaches and has been one of the best in the 19 years I’ve been coming to the Australian Open.

We wanted to watch Laura Robson again, so along the way we also passed Court 4 where Andy Murray was having his day of recovery. It is always strange to congratulate somebody if they have won through retirement, but this one is special because it is his first semifinal here in Australia. There is a slight possibility that Mats will be hitting with Andy in the next few days because his coach Miles has a sore back.

Laura won her match and was not the most energetic on the court. I spoke to her after the match, and she said she had slept poorly and her mind was thinking of her whole day. She had to play her quarterfinal (open division) women’s doubles match, which was scheduled to be after Tsonga-Djokovic at 7:30 p.m. I fully understand that a 16-year-old can get tired and her mind may wonder.

Serena on the big screen at the Aussie Open.

Serena on the big screen at the Aussie Open.

After her match, we decided to have a quick sandwich before heading to The Oval, where there is a big beer garden and other activities for the fans with live music and bars and restaurants. We wanted to watch the Serena and Roger matches there. We ended up staying there until about 6 p.m., and Roger had just won the second set before we walked over to Maria Kirilenko’s at 6:30 p.m. warm-up for her doubles match.

We watched the end of the Federer match in the lounge, and we had a nice dinner in the players’ restaurant before we headed over to the night match of the day: Tsonga vs. Djokovic. The first two sets were spectacular. The women’s doubles match that was originally planned after the match was moved to the Margaret Court Arena at 10 p.m., and I was getting updates from Laura Robson’s coach. She and her partner were leading 4-0 in the first. So I decided to walk over and watch a little from the side of the court. (I am not supposed to be in the player’s box of either of the players, but I am allowed to sit and watch neutrally.) I came in at 4-3 for Robson and Peers, but Kirilenko and Radwanska turned it around and won the set 6-4. I stayed for one more game before heading back to center court. I watched as Tsonga was fighting his way back after losing the third, and Djokovic was running of the court because he seemed ill. At the end Tsonga won the battle and put another adidas player into the semis.

Today is going to be a bit slower, but I look forward to see Justine Henin play her comeback semi and roam the grounds again and in between have a personal workout in the gym.

Another day of Paradise is beginning.

Sven