The weather today wasn't especially good for tennis. Very cloudy, a few spots of rain and very windy at times. Still, it didn't seem to dampen every player's spirit
My favourite players of the moment were all smiles again - Johnny Marray
and Alan Mackin
I had a quick chat with Johnny - he didn't like the weather AT ALL, but he was still very pleasant.
was knocking up with Sargsian
...I can't say Sargsian looked that good to be honest
At one point he had a bit of banter with Hrbaty
through the fence to the next court (neither player could see each other). Hrbaty was relaxed and striking the ball well. I see what people mean about his ball toss...Paula Radcliffe could run a marathon before the ball drops down to Hrbaty's serve striking height
He was practising with Tomas Berdych
who seems a nice enough chap.
The best practising group by far arrived shortly after that. Beck
practised as a four on one court and brought with them a lot of attention...poor old Popp
didn't get anyone
I took a picture of him when he was walking towards me and unfortunately the 1 second delay resulted in me cutting his head off
was knocking up with some unknown on an adjacent court and people were divided as to who to watch. He looked really good in practise and was practising serve and volley
I reckon he might go all the way again this year...I was impressed. Dent was serving well but Andreev read him much of the time and passed him seemingly at will. If he didn't pass him, Dent dumped a volley in the net :retard: A couple of little kids were watching him and one of them said, and I quote, "That man is really scary...really scary!!"
He was up to his usual facial contortions, grunting like a pig etc but apart from that, he seemed as normal as could be. He does scream like a girl though...he could shatter glass quicker than Sharapova.
He does need to get into shape FAST though...he was sweating like a pig and breathing heavily after just 10 minutes...no exaggeration either.
Andreev could go far, but his form today will have no importance really when he plays Karlovic Monday / Tuesday. Beck was hitting a foot long for much of the afternoon and threw a mini-temper tantrum that had Andreev sniggering (no love lost between them) If Tipsarevic could play tennis as well as he decorates his body then he would be ace...although he seems worthy of top 70 some day soon.
Anyway, on to why I dislike Andreev. A group of about 30 people, including me, watched him practise with the other 3 guys for over 45 minutes. He came off court and was greeted by about a dozen kids of no older than 8 wanting autographs. He walked past all of them, all the rest of us without even looking in our direction. Several parents shook their heads in amazement and disappointment. You may defend him for doing this, but he did EXACTLY THE SAME
thing yesterday as well. That was very rude and inconsiderate considering how much interest we took in his shotmaking. Dent, Beck and Tipsarevic signed a few autographs...no one knew who Tipsarevic was
I also saw a few games of the final qualifying match between Harsh Mankad
and Nathan Healey
. It was high quality, but, after a blip in the second set, Mankad won in 3 sets to reach the main draw. I was impressed with both players' shotmaking and I will look out for them in the future.
I got autographs from Sargsian, Tursunov, Mackin, Beck, Marray, Dent, Tipsarevic and Berdych. I wanted to get Paradorn's but, for the third time in as many visits to the Centre, he was on his blasted mobile phone!
Hopefully I'll be able to catch him without it at some point, although I think it is glued to his ear
I also missed Hrbaty. I watched him practise both today and yesterday (over 20 minutes between watching other courts) but each time I walked off to watch someone else on the far side of the Centre, and he was gone by the time I went back. Hopefully I'll be third time lucky next time!
I also saw some doubles players knocking up...Jared Palmer
was the only one I recognised (from a few years back)...the draw is very weak. Carlsen
was wandering around watching the qualies again...he spends more time doing that than actually playing the game
I might try to get his autograph at the start of the week, although, no offence to him, I'm not too bothered.
The final preparations are in place for the tournament...colourful flowers have been added to the flower beds, the courts recut again, hanging flower baskets etc. Someone has still not put the draw up outside
I will endeavour to take some photos of the nice scenery and then compare it to photos of the Centre that I'll take in October. The difference is staggering...obviously.
If any of you are going to the Centre tomorrow...set your alarms for 7:30am...Jared Palmer
is practising then!
However, the gates open at 11:00am anyway...and I can guarantee you I won't be there any time earlier!
Walking round for 10 hours this weekend has exhausted me...but I'll be back on Monday bringing you another report.