Wednesday, 4 February 2015

13 Things that had us Mopin' at the Open

With a Djokovic win and a Sharapova grunt, the 2015 Australian Open comes to a close.  The first grand slam of the year and the perfect time of year for people who like their sports with no time limit or Australian representation in the final.  The time of year that we realise that at its core, tennis is more than a sport – it’s really the perfect metaphor for an unhappy marriage – two people start out with ‘love’, they spend time together going at it, but after a while they’re just two angry looking, exhausted individuals in court fighting over money, and seeing who gets to keep the ornate punchbowl and who has to be stuck with the silver drinks tray.  The doubles, well that's just double dates or swingers parties gone wrong.  So with that in mind and knowing there’s so much to love about the ‘happy slam’, with less expletives than commentary by Andy Murray’s other half, here’s a look at a few of the things that make us want to backhand the Australian Open and some of the decisions we'd like to call 'challenge' on.

When Corporate won't Cooperate

First and foremost, let’s address the issue of the vast number of empty corporate seats at most matches.  Sure you people have paid for it or slept with your boss for it so it’s yours to do with it what you will, so technically you can leave it unattended.  But that’s like you’ve broken up with your supermodel girlfriend who has a thing for tall guys of Eastern European background but you still won’t let me ask her out because you might be interested in her again later.  Realistically, the corporate and members area shouldn’t even be ticketed, it should be filled purely on the basis of “Who called ‘SHOTGUN!’”.  If that system was implemented, you would never see a late arrival to the tennis ever again or an empty seat on the baseline.  Knowing these morons, they probably have a hot wife that sleeps in a separate bed, a pool they don’t swim in and a Ferrari they never drive.  Perhaps what ticks us off the most about these empty seats is that no one is allowed to shift down and fill them.  It takes a special kind of douchebag to leave a seat that good empty.  Why have it if you can’t use it!?  It’s like Stephen Hawking having a private basketball court or Kim Kardashian owning her own private library.

The Commentators

While most get it right, you can always pick the commentator who makes it abundantly clear they’d really rather be watching a local Auskick clinic and couldn’t pick a tennis ball out of a sports ball police line-up (why were the sport balls in a police line-up you ask? – Because all were arrested for excessive speeding!  *insert dad joke drum beat here).  The one whose inability to pronounce player surnames correctly is surpassed only by their desire to pull out useless facts that leave you screaming at the TV screen, “thanks mate, but I’m not sure that Andy Murray’s fondness for the TV show ‘Entourage’ is what’s hampering his first serve percentage tonight.”  Let’s not over analyse every facet of the game – some players are good, some aren’t.  Yes this player changed a racquet in the third set, but it’s not exactly the most dramatic of turning points.  It’s not like he had to play out the rest of the match with a range of pans from the Jamie Oliver kitchenware collection.  “Sure the saucepan provides greater depth for top spin on the ball, but the hot-spot fry pan allows for a flatter forehand winner.”

The 'Fanatics'

The small group of green & gold-wearing Aussie supporters who look like a tennis ball threw-up on them.  The team who for one week a year ask for time off from Subway and their ‘captain’ takes time off from being a Corey Worthington impersonator, to distract some of the world's best as they take on some of Australia's best.  With their fluro colours and range of cheers, they kind of look like a boys’ church choir that grew-up, got hooked on party drugs and had trouble finding places to perform.

No Deal on Nadal

Having to listen to girls talk about how beautiful Rafael Nadal is.  That's the thing about Australia being so far away from Europe and the power of celebrity – it means a language with an in-built speech impediment is looked at as exotic and a receding hairline and bald spot are overlooked.  He's one career-ending knee injury away from having to set-up a Spanish ‘E-harmony’ account – ‘Si-harmonia’.  Before you dream of spending the rest of your life with Nadal ladies, imagine the reality of the situation; he has bad knees and his hands blister easily so getting him to do any of the work around the house is almost impossible, he sweats profusely so he’s always doing a load of washing and his English is horrible so every time he calls you for something, you end-up hanging up thinking it’s a call centre operator.

Those Living Aboard the "Fed-Express"

Roger Federer has all the precision and personality of Robocop or the Terminator with a tennis racquet.  In fact, the only thing that makes me believe Federer is human is that we’ve seen him cry so many times, and even then I’m surprised he didn’t rust.  People that cheer for Roger Federer over anyone else were probably also cheering for Shooter McGavin when they watched the movie “Happy Gilmore”.  Yes, I said it – Roger Federer is the ‘Shooter McGavin’ of men’s tennis.  If you have a friend that’s a die hard Federer supporter, there’s also a pretty good chance that when you’re playing ‘Pong’ on the computer, they’re cheering for the computer.  (*Note:  For those born post 1995, ‘Pong’ was a game like Nintendo Wii Tennis but for the lazy and over-weight).

The Great Australian Plight

It’s always great to see some support for the Aussies, but last year Sam Stosur and Lleyton Hewitt both went out in the first round, this year they both went out in the second.  How many Grand Slam third rounds do they have to not make it to before Aussie pundits stop referring to their defeats as “shock exits.”  Every game point they claim should be hailed as a “shock triumph” and if they make a final, it should be declared a public holiday.

The Baseline Camera

The camera angle enjoyed solely by people with a calf muscle fetish and penchant for butt sweat or for when you want to have no concept of where the ball is or where it’s going at any time whatsoever.  It’s the camera angle for when you want the full experience of being an oompa loompa with courtside seats to the badminton.  All the joy of watching someone up close as they’re sweating profusely combined with the visual benefits of being stuck behind someone taller than you anywhere but in a game of dodgeball.  It makes us feel like a mute linesperson and it’s got to boot.

Cross-court Tension meets Cross-promotion

Because what’s more perfect during the tension of a break point in a semi-final than being reminded of the fact that the new season of ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ and ‘My Kitchen Rules’ is starting soon.  Now not only am I stressed out about the fact that Djokovic might lose this match, but I’m also reminded that I’m a sub-standard cook and what a crappy state my kitchen and lounge room are in.

The Price is Wrong

Apparently the Australian Open is under the impression that they’re an economy of their own.  A slice of advice organisers; unless that pizza you’re selling was delivered fresh from Napoli by one or both Super Mario Bros via fighter jet after being blessed by the Pope himself, there’s no reason a piece should be setting us back 12 dollars.  Combined with the long lines, it actually becomes cheaper and faster to call Dominos and have them deliver to the gates of Melbourne Park.  I don’t see Australian Open organisers offering any “if it takes longer than 30 minutes to arrive, it’s free” guarantees so this is actually the safer bet.  Also, simple rule; if it’s mid-strength beer, it shouldn’t be max cost.

The 'Super Fan'

An interesting species, the ‘super fan’ comes out of hibernation for these two weeks of the year and can sometimes be identified by their facepaint and tendency to become vocal when provoked or their territory is threatened.  Often, they can be found circulating beside the training courts and outside the hotels of their most loved tennis stars.  But more than that, these are the fans who just love the players a bit too much.  I get it, you’re thrilled he won, and then he throws a shoe or a sweaty wrist band in your direction and you'll knock out your nanna when diving for it.  Now that's fine as long as you behave like this in every facet of your life.  The next time you visit your accountant at the end of the financial year and he secures you a great tax return, and in the joy of the moment he throws his sweaty bonds under singlet or socks to you, you can’t show disgust – you catch that token of gratitude and you hold it high!

How do you Solve a Problem like Arena?

Having to explain to people that it’s called ‘Margaret Court Arena’ and not just ‘Margaret Court’.  Her name is ‘Margaret Court’ so I understand the confusion that her surname is the same as the place named after her but let’s get it right and look past it.  I feel for you Margaret Court, in the same way I feel for Tina Arena.

Two Weekends at Bernie's

Australians seem to love 'Big Brother' so can’t we combine that into the Australian Open and give punters the option of voting out at least one player before the tournament even starts?  This is where Bernard Tomic comes in.  From his off-court antics to his complaints about scheduling, it’s pretty clear that he’s the Justin Bieber of Australian tennis.  On behalf of all of us Bernie, you’ve fared better than 99% of people going to the tournament – you’ve gotten a seat right on court, you’ve been paid to attend even though you’ll in all likelihood leave the tournament early and you’ve got a free lift to and from the stadium.  When you have to pay $170 admission to sit so far up in Rod Laver Arena that you actually have to duck when Jetstar’s evening Avalon-bound flight is preparing to land, plus pay for a return V-line train ticket that has you praying your match doesn’t go past 11:30 pm so you can race to catch the midnight service to Geelong, then come cry me a Yarra River Bernie.

The Good, the Bad & the Ana

Last, but most certainly not least, when Ana Ivanovic is knocked out in the first round (for at least the male portion of tennis-goers) this does more damage to Australian Open ticket sales than reports that an Ebola-carrying hurricane is headed for Rod Laver Arena.  More men have ditched their women’s tennis tickets after Ana Ivanovic was knocked-out than have ditched their Malaysian Airline honeymoon tickets after two flights didn’t reach their destinations in as many months.  Every time Ana Ivanovic loses, an angel loses its wings.  A Victoria’s Secret angel but an angel nonetheless.  Sure there are still talented players around in the competition but she was the prettiest.  Seeing her lose on the first day of the tournament is like Adriana Lima leaving a Victoria's Secret fashion show after 5 minutes, and then 'Dimmys & Forges' models take over the catwalk for the remainder of the show.

So as the ball kids go back to their ball families, the linespeople go back to their day-to-day lines and the players store their racquet bags and free Australian Open towels back in their closets, we say 'game-set-match' to another big Australian Open.  For all these minor inconveniences and quirks, we love it like a fit kid loves gluten-free cake and we look forward to welcoming the "unhappy couples" back again for another exciting couple of weeks next January.

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