The weather in Chennai was very humid and a lot harsher than it is in Melbourne, so the conditions here donít worry me. I flew from Chennai via Singapore to get to Melbourne and am pleased to have gotten three matches under my belt against Top 10 players by reaching the Kooyong Classic exhibition final where I lost to Andy Roddick.
Going into my first round match against Thomas Johansson, I am in a confident mood. Iím ready for the challenge. Johansson is a very experienced player, so it will be important to find my rhythm quickly. I wonít take the match for granted. I have no idea how many supporters will come to watch the match, but Iím sure the atmosphere will be fantastic and they will push me all the way.
Iíve had some great experiences off the court during my time here, including an interview with 'Today Tonight' show, one of Australiaís biggest current affairs programs on Channel 7. It was very funny! I was interviewed in a car and at different places around Melbourne Park.
I practised a little bit in the morning and enjoyed the support I received from Greek and Cypriot fans during the match. Of course by playing Thomas Johansson, I had to contend not only with the former champion but also his Swedish fans, which made for a great atmosphere with plenty of noise and chanting.
It was a tricky match, made more difficult when I injured my left hamstring towards the end of the second set. I knew immediately that it was not a serious injury, but it certainly jolted my confidence Ė despite on-court treatment from a physio Ė and it wasnít until the fourth set that I regained control of the match. I am very happy with the way I played during the four-set win and enjoyed the fact that my serve and my game in general stood up to Johanssonís game. I was well prepared, the tactics I used came off, and I look forward to the challenge ahead.
Afterwards, I immediately went to the locker room and received further treatment from a physio on my hamstring injury. My coach was happy with the way I played and said it was a good first round win where I seized momentum quickly.
As always the support I receive from the message fans leave me on my web site and from those who attend tournaments really helps and boosts my confidence: win or lose. I rang a few friends after the match to let them know how I got on and enjoyed a quiet night with room service in my hotel room.
Tomorrow Iíll get to practice more and talk to my coach about how Iíll tackle my next opponent Marat Safin, the 2005 winner, who has enjoyed great success in Melbourne. Iíll need to employ different tactics and will have to stay aggressive throughout in order to beat him. I canít let him play his game, as he can overwhelm the very best when on form. Iím going to have to boss him.
I left the site early last night and had room service back at the hotel, getting to sleep at around 9:30pm, as I was a bit tired. The hotel food is very good; normally I only eat plain pasta and salad when I am in a tournament, itís sort of my routine. Before a match I normally eat the same stuff like plain pasta and afterwards we sometimes go to a Greek restaurant where I eat lamb or chicken. Normally I stay in the room and stick to my routine.
I love eating! I have a problem with that! I have a dream to eat as much as possible and not get fat, but I think it will never come true!! We donít really have the freedom to eat what we want, as players we have to be careful about what we eat and not to gain weight, especially during tournaments. I know myself a bit better now so I can handle it and find a way to enjoy eating by staying at a good weight.
I donít have a weakness for chocolate or sweet things; Iím more of a salty guy. I donít really like sweet things, I like it but not too much, so when I see people eating desserts I donít mind, I can resist. I really like French fries but when I am at a tournament I donít really eat them, I guess I have a lot of willpower!!!
When I am at a tournament itís nice to go out, but sometimes it is tough when you go out to a restaurant, such as Stalactites, which is one I go to a lot here in Melbourne. The last time I went a lot of people recognised me. It is tough. Sometimes you want to stay and have a nice dinner and talk with your friends, laugh a bit. Fortunately they have a room upstairs where I can go and sit and it is really quiet so I like it there, but I have to be careful of the food. Itís not too healthy for a tennis player!!
Last year we had around 12 people visiting the restaurant every time we went but this year I have around like five people so itís ok. Itís really nice when people come up to ask for autographs and photos it gives you a good feeling, positive energy, itís not like I donít like people coming up but sometimes you do want some privacy.
Everyone has been asking me if I have a girlfriend and Iím sorry to disappoint all the girls but I do have a girlfriend at the moment but I am keeping it all private, sorry!!! A lot of people have also been asking me about my new look. I thought about cutting my hair this December so I did and shaved my beard just before the tournament. There is no real reason why I did it. If I keep on winning, I wonít shave and Iíll have a beard.
Some friends sometimes send me text messages. They have their routine of sending me a message before the match such as: ďYouíre going to kick his assĒ, ďHe has no way of beating youĒ, ďHe only has one legĒ etc. Some guys send me the same text before every match, at the same time, such as: ďGood luck, Marc, weíre with you!Ē I had a guy in Paris tell me that every day until I lost.
I find it nice when friends get into my rhythm, it gives me positive energy. Itís nice that they help you to get through all the difficulties, as it is difficult travelling on the circuit alone with your coach all the time. I have my routines with my bag and the way I prepare for a match, but nothing really, really superstitious.
I am working on a new celebration in Australia. If I win my match against Safin tomorrow then Iíll do something. You know like Youzhny with the salute, Federer with his racket up and Djokovic imitating players. Iím trying to find something. So keep your eyes out tomorrow, Iíll do something crazy if I win, it will be something funny, something original, I hope you guys will like it!
Today I had an off day and made my way out to sign autographs at the ATP FanFest. I played Totem Tennis for the first time and it showed. It will never be something I teach my kids and certainly something I will never become world champion, I was so bad at it!! After signing autographs for 40 minutes my wrist was all right, it was more my back from leaning all the time. But it was fun, the people here are really fun, polite and smile. They give me energy and that is what I like about Melbourne and the tournament.
It feels a bit like home, it seems like every third person here is Greek. Every time I walk on the street they come up and say ďYassu MarcosĒ, so Melbourne definitely feels like home. A lot of Greek fans were on-site today, and I donít think many Greeks were playing. Half the queue for autographs was Greek. Itís amazing.
When I come to Melbourne I always get lots of support and that is really good. Normally I catch up with the President of my fan club, who I speak to a few times on the phone and meet here. We rent a place after the tournament is finished and have a barbecue each year. Itís in a Greek cafť with a yard out the back.
Tomorrow I play Safin on Rod Laver Arena; it is certainly different playing during the day and at night. The whole rhythm and sleep pattern changes a bit. Tomorrow Iíll go to the gym in the morning and then pick up my tickets and have some lunch. Iíll then go back to the hotel, have a nap in the afternoon and return to the site. I'll then have a hit and get ready for my match. There is no real difference between the court and atmosphere between the arenas here, so hopefully it wonít be a problem.
It was a great atmosphere on Rod Laver Arena last night. At the beginning the fans werenít into the match too much, but towards the end they were starting to feel the pressure we felt and began screaming their support (see picture left). It was nice to be back on Rod Laver Arena during a night session. Iím playing great tennis, Marat did too in the third and fourth sets Ė hitting the lines and serving so good. At the end I was physically in better shape I think than him. He got a bit tired and I held my concentration, serving pretty big at the end and Iím happy that I won. Jim Courier made me laugh when he asked me on court after the match if I was tired after having played five sets. I guess thatís the funniest question I have been asked during the week. I must be a boring person!
When I won I didnít really do my post-match celebration like I said I was going to on Wednesday. I told the physios before the match what celebration I was going to do if I won. They said it was better not to do it out of respect for Marat and other players. Maybe if I get to the quarters or semifinals Iíll do it. Itís something really original and maybe people could take it the wrong way. So thatís why I didnít do it. Itís just one funny thing that I wanted to do. Some people I spoke to said maybe I shouldnít do it. Iím really sorry to my fans. I shouldnít say something and then not do it. I hope I can play the semis and then show you.
I came in after the match to the locker room and spent 10 minutes on the bikes. Then took a shower and stretched. After that I did my press conference and returned for a massage. I ate a few sandwiches, as they put some sandwiches in the locker room for us. That was a really nice touch and then I went back to my hotel room around 3am.
Itís always tough going to sleep after a five-set match, having finished late. I was moving in bed: rolling around, talking alone, and thinking alone. I wasnít talking out loud and I wasnít dreaming, but I was thinking about the next match; what if I won the next match. Nice things. My adrenaline was going. But I found a way to sleep. I eventually went to sleep around 3:30am and woke up at 10am Ė without a wake-up call.
I have noticed that there are less people at the tournament now. Itís always nice when there are a few people around in the locker room. As players you certainly know when fewer and fewer players around. Itís nice to know that there isnít a queue for the physios and to know that 16 or 32 of you are left. I hope to win tomorrow and be in the second week of a Grand Slam again!
I donít think the crowd will be against me when I play Lleyton [Hewitt], but for sure there will be a lot of support for him. Heís from Australia. My only concern is to go out and play my best tennis and try to win. That is what I have to do I guess.
Thanks for reading, check in again tomorrow!
01-20-2008, 06:09 PM
and sorry to say that this is the last one...:sad:
With Roger's match from the day session going past 8 o'clock, Lleyton and I knew we were in for a late start, with Venus and Sania scheduled to play before us. I was a bit tired by the time I got into the match and it was tough to find rhythm. It was tough to lose such a close match but I had great emotions and that's why I love this game.
At the hotel after the match it's tough because you have flashes of the match go through your head. I got back to the hotel around 6.30 in the morning and I saw everyone waking up. I tried to sleep at 7 or 7.30 but I couldn't sleep. I had cramps, I was sweating. When I finally did fall to sleep the time passed very quickly. It felt like I had been asleep for just 10 minutes when my coach woke me up at 12 o'clock to tell me I had a flight to catch. Today I am going to Hawaii for a short holiday, which I feel like I need after such a long day on Saturday :)
The day of the match began for me around 8. I had some fruit for breakfast and then some coffee. And I always drink my energy drink in the morning to keep myself pumped up.
I went back to the room, called my girlfriend and then went to the courts. The physio worked on my left thigh, which was a bit tight. Around 12 I started to warm up in the gym with my physical coach. I was on the bike and did some stretching. Then I had something to eat in the room and then had a nap between 2 and 4. I brushed my teeth, packed my stuff and headed to the courts. And then I waited :)
I have loved blogging this week It's really, really fun and thank you for reading. I also love Australia and the people here so it's sad to be leaving. I have so much positive energy. I am very happy with my tournament and the way I am playing.
I want to thank my fans for their great support the past three days and thanks to the crowd for being really nice to me.