Tag Archives: Azarenka

Australia day – 26 January

27 Jan

Yesterday was Australia Day and the women’s singles final.

Pei

To avoid having to eat the dreadful food at the Rod Laver Arena – imagine oil being heated at above 180C for 5-6 hours and burned potato wedges cooking for that long and producing a variety of carcinogens, the bad wine  – Jacob’s Creek is one of the big sponsors, we went to Pei, a Mark Best restuarant, at Collin’s place on the way down to the tennis.

Now, some of you may not have heard about the virtues of Australian food. Let me correct the impression of it all being bad rum (Bundaberg), cheap wine (the aforementioned Jacob’s Creek) and pies.  These all exist.  However, due to the influx of many nationalities (Thai, Chinese, Greek, Italian etc, etc), and the high quality fresh produce available, there is a wide range of good food available that can rival London’s.  Additionally, there is also a significant amount of good quality wine available, most of which never makes it way to London or further.  If it does, it retails at over £30 a bottle – for example, Charles Melton’s extremely excellent Nine Popes Shiraz.

At Pei, we gallumphed our way through a couple starters: pork chunks and prawns with crispy pork salt and roasted garlic puree:

Crispy pork chunks

Crispy pork chunks

Grilled prawn and pork salt

Grilled prawn and pork salt

We then trawled our way through the mains.  By this time, the wine was having an effect on me, so all I remember was lamb, steak king fish and a pretty great bottle of red.

Lamb with minted peas and braised lettuce

Lamb with minted peas and braised lettuce

KIngfish and courgettes

KIngfish and courgettes

Steak with polenta dumplings and spinach puree

Steak with polenta dumplings and spinach puree

 

Fully fed and watered, we walked down to the Rod Laver Arena and the women’s final.

Singles final, Australian Open 2013

Well what can I say? Azarenka won. She played some reasonable tennis as did Li Na and they were pretty evenly matched. Li Na’s improvement (post Carlos Rodriguez) is pretty interesting to note, although it was unfortunate that she made so many errors on her serve, which she did not against Sharapova.

Li Na arrives for the ladies' final

Li Na arrives for the ladies’ final

Azarenka arrives

Azarenka arrives

Neither one of them is really a match for an on-song Serena and it was very frustrating to watch their fastest serves as 161 kph – Serena’s is over 200 and even Sloane Stephens was often close to the 180 kph mark.

Li Na returns serve in the second set

Li Na returns serve in the second set

Still, the match was entertaining, notwithstanding Azarenka’s squealing arias.
There is something irritating about Azarenka, from the self-consciously “too cool for school” hoody, incongruously matched with the pedal pushers and grandma’s swimsuit top; yhe “rapper” Redfoo (Berry Gordy’s grandson, with the unkempt hair) in her cheering section;

Redfoo(l) still hasn't combed his hair

Redfoo(l) still hasn’t combed his hair

to her nickname VKA (or Vic-ahhhh) and the crocodile tears on her victory. (I won’t mention the noises again – I’ve said enough already).
Come back Serena – your presence is needed!!!

Up next, the men’s final….

Arriving in Melbourne and Ladies day

26 Jan

Well after a day’s travelling, I got to Melbourne on Wednesday 23rd, just in time to hear that Serena had been knocked out in the quarter-finals by American Sloane Stephens. Now I have been quite interested to see Stephens play…. But not interested for it to be at the cost of Serena. Anyway, you can only watch who is playing, so Stephens it is.

I have been staying on Queen Street in the commercial centre of Melbourne, at a hotel that charges you for internet connectivity. What a shock – I didn’t think those still existed. Well, at least the tennis (and the MCG, incidentally) are only a short walk away, along the picturesque Yarra river. I got up on Thursday morning to excitedly make my way down to the tennis, for Ladies day.

Walking along the Yarra River

Walking along the Yarra River

The final Thursday at the Australian open is called ladies day as both women’s semi-finals are played that day during the first session.   This was also a special day as it marked the 40th anniversary of the WTA.  The good and the great were there to celebrate.

40th Anniversary of the WTA

40th Anniversary of the WTA

The matches that are on are the Bryan brothers in the men’s doubles semi-finals, Li Na versus Maria Sharapova and then Victoria Azarenka versus Sloane Stephens. The nightmare outcome to my mind would be the shrieks of Sharapova versus the annoying whinnying of Azarenka. I am backing Li Na and Sloane Stephens.
Li Na played some surprisingly good tennis, relentlessly hitting the tramlines and making Sharapova work. Sharapova was not on good form and made a lot of unforced errors. Li Na duly won.

Li Na versus Maria Sharapova

Li Na versus Maria Sharapova

DSC_0054

Li Na Serves

Next up, Sloane Stephens versus Victoria Azarenka.

Azarenka in a hoody?

Azarenka in a hoody?

 

At the toss

At the toss

Well, you will undoubtedly have read a lot about this already. First of all, it was a very bad match of pretty low quality – I am very surprised that Sloane Stephens beat Serena, even on one leg. Azarenka for her part also did not play well but was definitely a lot better than Stephens.

Stephens returns

Stephens returns

 

The second set was comical with each of them breaking the other routinely. Sometime in the second set, funnily enough after a Stephens winner, Azarenka started limping and clutching her ankle. The crowd was not sympathetic. Anything Serena can do…..

Then after Stephens broke her serve yet again, she called for the trainer, who spent a lot of time examining and rotating her shoulder. After about 5 minutes of this, she went off for another ten minutes. Imagine my surprise when she claimed her knee and her back were giving trouble. Maybe in Belarus, the word for ankle is knee and the word for shoulder is back…. Anyway, she duly came back and broke Stephens’ serve. Now, Azarenka was already not popular with the crowd and was regularly mocked for the stupid noises that she makes but, even by her high standards, this was idiotic. Did anyone think that her games playing changed the outcome of the match? No. It may have taken a bit more effort and possibly even another set. But that is what made it even worse. The number one player versus the number twenty-nine, in a massively winning position has to resort to this? Shocker. Let’s hope Li Na gets her second grand slam. On the basis of their playing alone, at the semi-final, Li Na deserves it. On the basis of their behaviour, there is only one deserving winner.  Let’s see what happens tonight.

Where's my comb???

I came without combing my hair to see this???