Wandering and Wondering

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Championships

My month long stay in London has luckily coincided with the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. Today I decided to take a chance against the weather and queue up to try and get tickets. After getting up at just after 5am, I eventually made it to the end of the queue by around 6.40am. As soon as I arrived I received a "queue card" as proof of my position in the queue. Mine was numbered 889. Since there are two queues, this means that there were approximately 1600 people infront of me in the queue, many of who had camped overnight.

Queuing for Wimbledon tickets


After about an hour they started handing out wristbands to the people in the front of the queue, meaning that they could get tickets for the centre court or show courts 1 and 2. They ran out of wristbands for show court number 2 about 30 people in front of me in the queue, meaning that I would have to settle for a ground pass.

I finally made it inside the gates at a little after 10am, and then had to wait until 10.30am before the rest of the grounds actually opened. At first I was a little disappointed at having missed out on show court tickets by such a narrow margin, but in the end it didn't really matter because I got to see a couple of Australian matches on court 6, so I was pretty happy. By the time the game started at 12pm, all of the seating around the court was packed with lots of Australian supporters, which made for a nice atmosphere. To give you an idea, the court only had 4 rows of seats on one side, and one row of seats on the other side, so it could only accommodate 100-200 people. The advantage was that you were right up close to the action.

Aussie supporters


The first match was between the Australian player Samantha Stosur and the Puerto Rican player Kristina Brandi. After losing the first set, Sam came back to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in an entertaining match.

Samantha Stosur


The next match was between the Australian veteran Wayne Arthurs and the young rising star Thiemo De Bakker from the Netherlands (who won the junior competition at Wimbledon last year). The first two sets both went to tie-breaks, with Arthurs losing both to find himself two sets down. At this point he looked pretty despondant, and some people started leaving the court to watch other matches.

Wayne Arthurs looking a little despondent


The third set again went to a tie-breaker, but this time Arthurs managed to win it with a little help from the net cord. After he won the fourth set, the game had well and truly turned around, and a big crowd had gathered to watch the fifth and final set. In addition to the 100-200 seated spectators, there were at least another 100 or so standing, and some even climbed on the back of the stand to get a view. Needless to say it was a great atmosphere. There were three Dutch supporters in orange, but they were well and truly outnumbered by the Australian supporters, who were chanting and singing songs throughout the entire fifth set.

Dutch supporters


Aussie supporter


Aussie supporters


The fifth set was in the balance until Arthurs broke the Dutchman's serve to go ahead 5-4. With the crowd behind him, he went on to serve out the match. The final score was 6-7, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Victory for Wayne Arthurs


With the news of Lleyton Hewitt winning his match, it turned out to be a great day for Aussie fans at Wimbledon. After the Arthurs match was over, I headed to the big-screen on the hill to watch the end of the game between Venus Williams and Alla Kudryavtseva before calling it a night.

The Big Screen at Wimbledon


So, that's Wimbledon and the French Open crossed off my list of grand-slams. Hopefully I'll be lucky enough to find myself in New York around the time of the US Open sometime in the next few years, and then I'll only have the Australian Open to go to complete my grand-slam!

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