January 15, 2016
We all love the Australian Open – justifiably known as “The Happy Slam.”
The mood is so upbeat, the atmosphere is amazing and the sheer love of sport among the enthusiastic Aussie crowds a particular delight. But some players have encountered added challenges at the Melbourne tournament in recent times. Here are a few of the more memorable ones…
It has happened already in 2016. Qualifying had to be stopped because temperatures reached 42 degrees Celsius or 108 degrees Fahrenheit in Melbourne. You know it’s going to be hot in Australia in summer time. That’s one of the challenges of this glorious event but the heat can become unplayable and that’s when the players are left well and truly frazzled.
Unsurprisingly, Australia Day – January 26 – is a big deal in Australia and there are fireworks. But many tennis fans have been stunned in the past to see key matches at the Aussie Open temporarily suspended as these festivities have taken priority – most notably the women’s final in 2013, when a nine-minute delay was said to have cost Li Na, as she lost momentum and ultimately the match against Victoria Azarenka.
3/ AUSSIE SLANG
The tennis world was amazed in 2013 as the gentleman introducing the players for their post-match speeches after that same women’s final in Melbourne described Li Na as ‘battered, bruised and quite possibly b*ggered.’ In Australian slang, the final word means “shattered.” Unfortunately, there was no interpreter on hand at the time to explain the local lingo to the rest of the English-speaking world. Whoops! Careful, mate!
Strike me down with a feather! Andy Murray had every chance of beating Novak Djokovic in the men’s final of 2013…until a bird feather fell from the sky and distracted him. Poor Murray was never quite the same force again in a match he probably should have won. You might say he flapped. His concentration destroyed by such a chance happening, Murray seemed to accept that it just wasn’t meant to be his day as the Serb took swift control. Better luck NEST time Andy.
The 20-year-old Eugenie Bouchard looked surprised last year when her middle-aged, on-court interviewer, who clearly found her outfit attractive, asked her to ‘give us a twirl.’ An embarrassed Genie said later: ‘I don’t know, an old guy asking you to twirl. It was funny.’ But tennis legend Billie Jean King didn’t think it was funny. ‘This is truly sexist,’ she said. ‘If you ask the women, you have to ask the guys to twirl as well.’ Maybe they’ll do exactly that at the Aussie Open, 2016.
As we’ve seen, the first Grand Slam of the year has not been short of strange moments. But the Aussie Open, just like every Grand Slam, remains truly special. The players love the Melbourne tournament and always comment on how superbly organised the tournament is. The hospitality is wonderful, the tennis sensational, and we can’t wait for Australia to give us a superb fortnight once more.