Day 9 – Australia Day (the 4th of July for Australia)
Today was a big day not only for Maria Kirilenko, but also for the adidas Development Program. Maria has been with the program on and off for the past 4 years, and she has really has developed into an all-court player, but most of all a great girl.
At 9 a.m. we took the bus so we could have our coffee in the players’ restaurant before warming up with Maria at 10 a.m. on center court. Maria warmed up with her doubles partner, Agnieszka Radwanska, and next to them on the same court was her opponent hitting with her coach/husband.
The Henin – Petrova match started at 11 a.m., and it turned out to be another great performance by Justine. For her to reach the semifinal in her second tournament after her two-year retirement it speaks volumes for Justine’s quality of play rather than the state of women’s tennis.
Maria was a bit nervous about the match and her ability to move as well as she need to against Jie Zheng. As it turned out, it was not enough. I was impressed with Zheng’s performance but not surprised. She is one of the greatest movers, and when she is on, you really need to be at your best to be able to get her out of her rhythm. Maria could not and was unfortunately not the one moving onto the semifinal.
After the match, Mats and I walked to Court 3 to meet up with Claus Marten, who was scouting matches on the outside courts. Laura Robson was battling with Yulia Putintseva, a Russian female version of Nadal. She and Laura both train at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy. However, it did not look like Yulia cared about the sportsmanship of the game, let alone respect one of her academy teammates. Laura tried to compose herself and focus on her game and not Yulia’s screams, jumps and fist pumps. The better player won this match, and Laura walked toward the net victorious. At that instant, Yulia’s racquet was flying toward the referee. Perhaps it was not intentional, but she hit is so hard on the court that it bounced 10 meters high and was caught by the wind. I am sure the match-up between the two will not be the last, but I do hope somebody will educate Yulia about what sportsmanship is all about.
When Laura’s match was finished, I went to the gym for a nice workout and had a good chat with Anders Jarryd, who is playing the seniors event. It is great to be around these great champions of the past to hear what they have to say about tennis and its development. Whether it is a Thomas Muster, Henri Leconte or Martina Navratilova, all of them take the time to have a chat and catch up. They are the legends of the game and they make tennis so special because they are still around to share their experiences with all of us.
It was now around 7 p.m., and I was about to leave for the hotel, call it a night and get ready for the Murray vs. Nadal match. As I was leaving, I ran into Laura Robson’s father, and we were chatting about her future plans and schedule. When the schedule was released, we found out that Laura would have to play her quarterfinals women’s doubles match at night and was scheduled to play after Djokovic vs. Tsonga.
This scheduling is an absolute disgrace, and I find it hard to believe that the WTA and the ITF, both of which are taking part in scheduling, allowed this to take place. Laura is also competing in the girls/junior event and turned 16 last week. Her singles match is the second one on after 11 a.m., followed by her doubles match tonight, and if she wins her singles match, the following day she would play another morning singles match in the junior event. I will say any more, but the tournament has made very bad judgment call.
Meanwhile, Mats left the site at 5 p.m. because he was invited for dinner at Jimmy Tansey’s place at Port Melbourne with Claus. Jimmy Tansey works in sports marketing for Olympic sports, individual sports and team sports so he has a lot of responsibilities. Claus and Mats have this as an annual event in Melbourne.
I got back to the hotel around 8 p.m., and as I turned on the TV to watch Nadal-Murray (who has just signed a contract with the 3 stripes), the match was is in full swing. It was 2-2, and I walked to Federation Square to watch the match on the big screen. It was Australia Day so it was very busy. On the big screen TV, there was live music, so they showed the match in the Atrium. The screen was little smaller, but the atmosphere that was incredible. Fans of both Rafa and Andy were chanting their names and waving flags. Unfortunately it was a sad ending because Nadal was hurt and could not continue his quest to defend his title.
Tomorrow will be our last day at the site, and we will round things up with checking on juniors, meetings with managers and having a nice day at the tennis without having to run from one court to another.
Sven and Mats