The final installment
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Woke up at 9 am with a disgusting feeling inside. To say that I had butterflies is an understatement. I was really nervous and couldn’t sit still for one second. I managed to shove a cereal bar down my throat and have a cup of tea but couldn’t even have a proper breakfast I was feeling so sick. Gathered all my stuff and off I went. Lena and I got to the stadium at noon and went to apply our patriotic makeup. After we emerged a few minutes later we saw Marat walking into the locker rooms, he was serious and concentrated. Then we started walking about and saw all Kolya’s relatives: his Mum, his brother with his wife, his nephew, girlfriend so we were absolutely positive Kolya was coming out to play Roddick. Misha came out of the locker rooms and spoke to one of the security people and we heard him say “I am not playing”, so our suspicion that it would be Kolya was getting stronger. There were loads of people at the stadium, much more than during previous days but that is always the way things are.
We kept going around, bought some souvenirs and then were standing a bit to the side when I put my head up and caught a glimpse of the TV monitor that shows matches for those people who go out to get drinks, etc. and I froze. I think I turned absolutely white at that point because Lena was looking at me and asking what the heck was wrong with me, I told her “Look at the monitor”. There were two names written there, one of them was expectedly Roddick and the other one was a huge shocker – Tursunov
. I started pacing up and down and swearing my head off, I truly apologise to Mitya and Tarpi now but at that point I think I said quite a few compliments to their address all accompanied with an F word
Lena was trying to calm me down but I couldn’t even breathe properly with fiery choking me. At that point it was all over for me. At that point Lena saw Mitya’s Dad and went to talk to him and I started sending frustrating SMS messages to my fellow safinholics. I was very close to having a nervous breakdown. Then we heard people talk about Kolya’s fever and it was starting to make sense. Kolya wasn’t well the day before and it was too risky to put him for the match, Misha played for two days straight and the Zhenya Korolev was nowhere in sight so Tarpi had no choice. Not that it made me feel any better, I tell ya.
We went to take our seats (we sat separately that day to ensure the Dolby Surround effect is reached with our cheers
) and Mitya and Roddick came out. There was no lineup on the last day so they went straight to warm up. Mitya looked quite good during warm-up but Andy was serving so well I was starting to flip. But nothing could be done, so I decided my mission was to scream as loud as I could and just give it my all but make sure there is some energy left in case Marat has to play the deciding rubber.
The match started unbelievably well
. Roddick couldn’t hit a single first serve and Mitya was in total control. The crowd was amazing, we were shouting and jumping, flags everywhere, tension building up. Roddick was getting more and more frustrated by the second and I’ll be honest (no offense to his fans or anything) but he acted like a complete wimp throughout the whole match. For 4 hours and 48 minutes he kept complaining about EVERYTHING and EVERYONE, his whining just would not stop
Court was bad, linesmen were bad, and ushers weren’t doing their jobs because people wouldn’t take their seats fast enough. It never stopped!!!! At first people weren’t paying attention but then it really was starting to get ridiculous, so every complaint of his was being accompanied by echoing whistles and boooos
. Mitya handled it all really well though and didn’t let anything get to him. The only thing that was bothering Mitya were his rackets, he changed 5 of them during the match because strings kept popping when he was receiving Roddick’s serve and at one point when it was really important and it burst again he went to change the racket and threw the old one to the team.
So the game kept rolling and after being 2.0 up Mitya started to get a little nervous and lost his concentration at some point. Misha Youzhny as always was doing a really great job at winding up the crowd, kept waving his arms at us so that we shout louder and more enthusiastic (was not possible in my case LOL), the team had a Russian flag with them, Misha’s girlfriend was jumping up and down with a flag, people were starting to get really crazy. But before we knew it – it was 2 all and we were heading towards the 5th set, if only we knew back then…
Fifth set was tight, very tight but towards the end Mitya loosened the grip and Andy did a break. 5.4 USA and Roddick came out to serve for the match. I had a few tears rolling down my cheeks then…over..all over..after all these efforts..those were my exact thoughts. Then I pulled myself together because Mitya was coming to receive on our side and started shouting as loud as I could “Mitya come on, it’s not over yet, come on”. I don’t know whether he heard me or whether he was telling himself the whole thing but a few heart attacks later it was 6 all, 5th set and no tie-break. After almost 4 hours of play we were back to square one.
What was happening next is all a big blur to me to be honest. I automatically waved my flag and screamed my lungs out but at some point I found myself being close to an epileptic fit. 9 all, 10 all, 11 all, 12 all…. I honestly thought it would never end, my voice was gone, I kept looking in Lena’s direction and I could see she wasn’t too well either. I had two old-ish men setting next to me and if at the beginning they were all stiff and quiet, at that point there was noone at the stadium who wasn’t screaming I think. 12-11 for Mitya, Roddick is serving… 15/40… that is it we think, that is when we do it… Nope… another burst racket, another good serve and a few mistakes from Mitya and it’s 12 all. Honestly at this point I was admiring both of them though, none were ready to give up and after almost 5 hours of such tense tennis they were serving aces left, right and centre. RESPECT guys!!!
14 all… 15 all … I was losing it, I was getting ready to collapse right there and then. Mitya goes to serve, 2 aces and a great play… 16/15 … somebody kill me now. Roddick goes to serve, Mitya is on our side again, me and the old men are screaming like mad, I don’t recognise my voice anymore because it is totally hoarse and breaking but who the hell cares. Match point Tursunov. The stadium is on its feet, people are freaking out like mad, I roll my eyes and look up, please God, please, I cannot take this anymore… Roddick serves, Mitya receives well, Roddick makes a hit and runs to the net, Mitya sees that and hits across past Roddick, the ball is in, Mitya is screaming. Me and old men are on a group hug screaming, their shirts are all in paint from my cheek seconds later
but at that point noone cares, it’s one big mess with people hugging and phoning their friends and relatives and a huge and loud RUSSIA RUSSIA RUSSIA and MOLODETS (well done) is shaking Olimpiyski’s walls. The boys on court are going wild, Misha, Tarpi, Mitya, Igor, everyone is hugging and kissing. Yeltsin runs out on court and hugs Mitya. Cameras, interviews..it’s all a blur… I phone hubby and make him totally deaf on one ear and he is just laughing his butt off in my mobile…there are seriously no words to describe that feeling well enough
Misha and Igor get the flag, pull Mitya towards them and start running around the court thanking the fans. We are there beaming with pride and happiness and clapping and screaming like there is no tomorrow. Misha starts walking off the court and we are all shouting our congratulations, he says “Thank you for support”. Igor follows him with everyone wishing him a quick recovery and comeback, he waves and smiles at us.
I start walking out too, I am totally energy-less, hoarse but nothing and noone can spoil my mood today. I manage to come out to the lounge area and hear loud cheers and claps – yep, Mitya has walked off the court accompanied by a dozen of cameras and ecstatic fans. I am trying to look for Lena but she’s nowhere to be seen, I phone her but she is not responding. I head towards the bar because my throat is about to explode, come up to the sales woman and ask her for some cherry juice, she gets me one, I get the little straw in and drink it all in a matter of seconds and then ask for another one right away, the woman is staring at me like she has just seen a ghost LOL. My mobile rings -–Lena – tells me where she is so I ran there and we gather into a huge hug screaming and celebrating, people around us are smiling sympathetically – who the hell cares
. 5 minutes later Marat comes out of the locker rooms in his jeans and ready to go. He storms out too quickly so I have no chance to even get close, oh well, I thought, he needs to run not to miss his plane to Bangkok so that’s understandable. The scoreboard shows “Safin-Blake”, we smile and wait for Zhenya Korolev to play a dead rubber.
We wander around and Lena sees Mitya’s manager, so she heads off to talk to him. All of a sudden locker rooms door opens and
…. Marat comes out fully geared and heads towards the courts, I am totally lost but start running for my life to take my seat. A few seconds later I realise that noone expected Marat to play a dead rubber so many people left already. I get up and move towards the front row, there is noone there so I take the seat right behind the baseline and prepare to enjoy the view.
The game was a huge joke, as it turned out later Marat wasn’t supposed to play and he was heading home when Tarpischev phoned him and said that McEnroe is refusing to put Blake against Davydenko and requests Marat’s presence on court
. Marat played the match just for the sake of playing it. He was clowning around, pumping his fists when Blake sent the balls out, pretended to get really angry when he missed some shots but you could see he was just trying to entertain the public and lose quickly so that he can finally catch that plane. I on the other hand decided that if I stayed and he is playing, the least I could do is support him, so I wound the crowd up with my MARAT MARAT screams and kept cheering for him. At one point he came to my side to serve and literally I think if I could stretch my hand out – I would have been able to touch him I was so close. He was down 30/40, Blake had a breakpoint in second set having won the first 7/5. So I went :
- Davai, davai Marat, - really loud
Suddenly he starts walking towards the ball boy for some balls and I hear
- Young lady, we have won already
- Yes but I am supporting YOU, - I said.
I burst out laughing along with the crowd refusing to believe he was actually talking to me DURING the match. He goes to serve, hits an ace and says:
- Better now?
- Much, - I respond and burst out laughing again.
It was too funny
. He dragged the match to a tiebreak and lost it but he really couldn’t be bothered. He started to walk off the court and I said “Do u still make it for that plane?” He said he hoped so. So I offered my congratulations and told him now that he has a long flight to catch, he could read our Message Book. He smiled and said he intends to sleep during the flight but he sure will read the book.
Lena and I met up after the game and decided to go outside for some fresh air straight away. Misha Youzhny was already gone by then, Kolya and Irina came out a few minutes after us, signed a few autographs and headed out too. Then a totally rushing Marat came out desperately trying to make way to his car because he seriously needed to catch that plane, he paused quickly for a few pictures, got into his Range Rover and drove off
. We decided to wait for the hero of the day a little longer, met some more girls from the forum who recognised me from the photos and half an hour later we were rewarded with a presence of the Blogging Clay Court King! He came out and I said “Mitya, you are a real hero today. That really was something, I have no voice, no strength but that truly was something else”. He said “Thanks” and grinned with that stunning smile of his
. I sent Lena to take a picture with him and he was carrying his rackets bag on his shoulder. When she came up to him he put his arm around her waste and when she tried to do the same, she couldn’t do it because of the bag, so he looked at her and said “Oh put it lower, don’t be shy” ROTFLMAO!!!!!! So she did, I took a photo and Lena told him “Oh can we do that again?” and went for his butt one more time
. I must tell you he didn’t mind LOL, so when I went to take a pic with him the story repeated itself
. Lena asked whether he had read the fan mail she had passed on the day before. He looked at her and said “Oh, sorry, I didn’t recognise you right away because you’re with a cap today”. He giggled and said he read the mail. We wished him luck then and he was off too.
As sad as it was DC was over…but it was only over for that weekend. The most important is still to come. Moscow. December. I’ll be there, and you will too, I’ll make sure of that guys.
P.S. As for hopping after him and fans acting crazy. I mean there are serious limits to one's behaviour. I am a 29 year old woman who knows how to behave with people in order to ensure their privacy and respect are kept in mind. Some people just don't have a clue...some are too young, some are too stupid...but it was quite painful to see some maniac fans
But I guess that comes with being a celebrity