Tuesday 24 November 2009

ATP World Tour Finals

Yesterday I felt like the luckiest girl in the world as I attended the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 arena. Last week I was thrilled (literally jumping for joy) when I got an invitation from a lovely lady called Emma on behalf of Lacoste, who thought as the tennis-mad-geek I am that I would enjoy it– and God was she right!
As someone who is tennis obsessed to the extent where for from mid June to mid July you won’t catch me leaving the BBC coverage for anything other than work (sadly due to over indulgence caused by a lack of annual subscription to premium sports channels) it might be surprising to know I’d never EVER attended a live tennis match before. Just for the non tennis boffins out there I’ll list why June and July are so good: first up there’s the Aegon championships- formerly known as Queen’s Championships- then Eastbourne, and finally quintessentially British tennis at its best; the glorious fortnight more commonly known as Wimbledon.

With luxurious corporate hospitality all the way I was lucky enough to spend the morning in the Lacoste sponsors village overlooking the only practice court with a brunch buffet and champagne.

What I really liked about the sponsors village was that when we were hanging around in the morning and between matches we had somewhere to go to relax and eat and drink rather than staying in the stalls. When it was time for the first match we were escorted to our seats on the first floor as if we were VIPs.

I was really impressed with how great my seat was in the centre of the row where I was high enough to see pretty much everything. I enjoyed the matches so much and loved it most when the players used Hawk Eye to challenge a call, as the crowd got really into it, and it seemed to intensify the competitive spirit between the opposing players.

Yesterday was quite a big deal to actually go and have the opportunity to watch some of my favourites play in person. One I was eager to watch was Andy Roddick who I’ve grown up watching over the past ten years and will proudly admit to fancying the pants off. Unfortunately due to injury he pulled out so instead I got to watch his replacement, Swede Robin Soderling (No. 9 seed) thrash Rafael Nadal (No. 2 seed) which would have been a huge upset if not for the fact that the tournament is a round robin event.

Image courtesy of BBC Sport.
Whilst gutted that I’d missed my long awaited chance to meet Roddick and make him want to dump his gorgeous lingerie model wife and marry me instead, I thoroughly enjoyed the tennis because of the atmosphere in the arena which was really exciting and made the match even more intense than it could possibly be from the pub or sofa at home. It was really great to be there and get the buzz off people cheering, mainly in Spanish for Nadal.

Image courtesy of BBC Sport.
Among other heckles were for Andy Murray and Boris Becker which were pretty hilarious. Not sure what really happened but Nadal wasn’t his usual self (although he was playing at a high standard) and we really expected it to go to a 3rd set and like most pundits would not have predicted Nadal would be beaten in straight sets (6-4, 6-4). I also got to watch a great doubles match between the American Bryan Brothers and victors Mirnyi and Ram who served and volleyed excellently (6-4, 6-4).

A not so good pic of Rafa and his mighty serve!
Such a great day out which made me wish I’d fought harder to get tickets years ago as I could have been enjoying live tennis for years, although not for want of trying. Would love to go back to the O2 for some more tennis so will be keeping my eye out for UK Davis Cup matches next year and hoping that the ATP World Tour Final’s will return to London again– hopefully with a fully fit Roddick in toe. Absolutely loved yesterday the only thing I would say is that I REALLY missed the BBC commentary team which I know sounds really dorky but when you get to hear perspectives on the match from the likes of Boris Becker, John McEnroe, Tim Henman, David Mercer, John Lloyd and Sue Barker thrown in for good measure, it’s just wrong not to enjoy it.

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