It was perhaps appropriate that the first picture I took with my new camera was of Rod Laver (or rather, a bust of him) outside the magnificent arena which bears his name. He was a childhood hero of mine and I’ve been a fan of tennis ever since. One of my ‘claims to fame’ (if you can call it that) is that I played at Wimbledon as a youngster. Not on the main courts you understand, but on the outside, red shale courts in a schools tournament. (I thought I’d mention that here, as I may never get another chance!)
So, even before I’d set off to Oz, I’d bought myself a 3 day ground pass, for what I thought was a bargain price at 120 AUD (i.e. 96 USD or £67). With this I could attend any 3 days in the 2 weeks of the tournament, excluding Saturdays and Sundays. I had other plans for later in the first week, so I ended up going for the first 3 days. My thinking anyway was that many of the best players would be on the outside courts early in the tournament and so it proved. I managed to see eventual Quarter finalists, Sandgren and Edmund as well as one of my favourite players, Verdasco. A big advantage of watching on the outside courts is that you can get really close to the action to appreciate the speed and skill of these great players.
It was not all about the tennis though as there’s plenty of other things going on, especially in what they call “The Oval”, where there are various stalls and some musical performances. I really enjoyed a local singer (well, Tasmania is quite close) called Hugo Badel. And the fun didn’t stop there, as I discovered when I got back to the Melbourne city centre. (Note: The venue is within easy walking distance, though there is also a tram). The James Squire pub was giving away a free pint to anyone who had been to the tennis! So there are no prizes for guessing where I went each day… Well, the temperatures had been as high as 42 degrees C (or 107 F). Cheers James! 🍺🍺🍺