Wednesday, 28 January 2009

We interrupt transmission from Bronte.... bring you pictures from the Australian Open tennis in Melbourne.
Here's a collage showing some of the players I watched over two days.
Your mission: see if you can name them all - top left to bottom right. Warning: There's an "odd one out" in there!
I may be able to offer a small prize to the first complete entry (eg a postcard.

If you need to see the photos in larger form, click here on Sydney Daily Photo Extra.

Let me tell you about the experience. Back in decemeber I entered a contest on the Qantas Frequent Flyer site - all I had to do was enter my name and details. Mid way through January I was contacted and told that I'd won! Me and three friends would be flown (business class) to melbourne and as guests of Tennis Australia spend two days there. After the initial shock, I . . . well, stayed shocked!

We left Sydney at 8am, flying up the front of the place. For those who haven't done this, let me assure you that it IS better in the pointy end. The seats are more comfortable, there's real lef and foot rests, you do get proper food, and while the toilet is the same cramped space there's a posy of fresh flora to contemplete. And there's still ridiculous plastic knives, which will do nought to prevent a potential terrorist poking your eye out with the metal fork.

We got met in Melbourne by one of the official fleet of cars (KIA) which ferry the seeded players, officials and other Big Wigs back and forth (unseeded players and others have shuttle buses), and taken direct to the tennis centre. Met our Tennis Australia host, a marvellous young man named Karl, who provided us with tickets for the Rod Laver Arena for that day's and night's sessions. Four matches in all, plus there's open access to matches on the outer courts, where we saw part of a few more matches.

We were transferred to the Grand Hyatt hotel for the night, the official player hotel. Didn't rub shoulders with any tennis stars, but we did see mark Woodford setting up an interview.

Second day we were taken back to Melbourne Park, where we were accredited as "Players For The Day", which meant we were able to be accompanied through various areas "backstage". We had to sign a pledge that we wouldn't approach players, ask for autographs or take photos without permission. We got kitted out with racquets (Wilson) and clothing (Nike) and taken to Court 4, where we managed a bit of hit and giggle for an hour. A couple of famous players arrived for their practice session following us. I'd like to report that they showed fascination with our progress, but it was more truthful to suggest that they noticed us not at all! I did ask permission to take photos and that was okay'ed for a couple (they're included in the collage).

After that "humiliation" we retreated to the audience again for a doubles match, with our "practice partners" displaying their skill.

Next was lunch in the Players' Lounge...a lovely retreat into air conditioning as the temperature climbed outside. We ate from the same good selection of food - not at all ostentatious or pretentious either in food or setting - but good, nutritious fare, lots of carbs for those seekign them, and high quality fresh food from salads to sandwiches, wraps, an hot food, and plastic tables and chairs. It was a considerable step up, however, from the plethora of over-priced mainly junk food available to the punters outside.

Thus ended our Player "experience" and we retreated to "Garden Square", the outdoor area with the huge screen of inside Rod Laver Arena, some shady trees, and tables and chairs...and a grassed area to lie or sit on (more of that tomorrow), then transfer back to the airport and home.

So, no skill was required other than the capacity to fill out a form online, and an experience to remember.

So who are the players above??????

Tomorrow - some more scenes around Melbourne Park.


  1. That's a wonderful trip for you. I'll decline your offer, have to say I'm not a tennis fan nowadays. I stopped watching when Borg retired!

    Great photo opportunity though for you.

  2. I'll give it a go!

    These are from right to left by rows.
    Top row: Tsonga, Nadal, Monfils
    Second row: Del Potro, Fish, Hantuchova
    Third row: S. Williams, Jankovic, S. & V. Williams

    Keeping my fingers crossed!

  3. Top row: All correct
    Middle row: Hantuchova is correct.
    Third Row: S Williams and S & V Williams are correct. Wrong gender for the middle one!

  4. PS - Don;t forget there's a trick in there!

  5. I recognised Tsonga, Nadal and Monfils. Plus Hantuchova and the Williams sisters.

  6. Oh and I don't watch as much tennis as I used to do. I enjoyed the game more when Becker, Stich, Edberg, Rafter and the other Serve and Volley players where around.

  7. How spoilt are you. Don't get too used to the pointy end of the plane. Middle, second row wouldn't be one of your party, would he?

  8. Ann - Bingo! My son.

    Now one more to go. Clue: She's a player who's been around for a pretty long time - possibly the longest on the current female circuit. She was practicing with hantuchova on "our court" after us.

  9. Those are some great action shots!

  10. Wilfried Tsonga
    Raphael Nadal
    Gael Monfils
    Fernando Gonzales
    Hana Hantuchova
    Serena Williams
    Venus Williams and Serena Williams

    Ah Sally,how lucky you were!
    I have gone to Monte Carlo,Roland
    Garros,Barcelone Champioships
    But yours is the Best
    I have to remember the last girl player in the third row playing in time of the wonderful Steffi Graff

  11. Maybe: Martina Hingis ???

  12. Martina Hingis, Steffi Graff ? Hard to say really !

    I can't believe how Ben has grown up since May last year, he looks like a real tennis champ!

    Thanks for sharing the photos and story Sally - what a fairytale this has been!

  13. Forget Steffi Graff.
    Yes possibly Martina Hingis?

  14. Well, how about that! What a fabulous experience. First you win the Monte Carlo postcard swimming pool challenge and now this! Of course I'm only kidding in comparing the two. What an amazing time you had - so pleased and thanks for the educational and amusing report and the photos. I'm not going to enter but will come back and see who got it right. So pleased Sally - can't get over this. You are such a very special person (I know) and you so deserve a great surprise like this. Brilliant!

  15. Nathalie - I've been walking on air (not Nike Air) all day!

    Not Steffi; not Hingis. Wrong continent.

    She's won 3 grand slam doubles titles (one with French woman Julie Halard-Decugis and 2 with Belgian Kim Clijsters). She has the record for both male and female players for the most consecutive Granbd Slam main draw appearances - 58.

    Her name is not a household name and I rarely read about her in the Australian press.

  16. Me again
    I said M.Hingis but she doesn't look as M.Hingis ,neither as Monica Seles,neither as Christ Evert So,who is she?
    For me,the longuest female player on the circuit was Martina Navratilova(single and double)and she played one-hand(left hand)
    Ah Sally????
    And the curent longuest is the very beautiful Elena Dimentieva
    Oh "je donne ma langue au chat!"

  17. Not European, not North or South American. Not Australian.

  18. Sugiyama in blond hair???

  19. Crumbs, I gave up when Rod Laver retired!

    I'd happily have traded places with you though Sally!

    Sunshine Coast Daily Photo - Australia

  20. Anon - correct! it's Ai Sugiyama with brownish hair.

  21. Thanks Sally
    It's incredible. I only recognise
    the mouth...with her grimace!

  22. You lucky duck! How thrilling. These shots are so fun to see. I was on tennis team in high school and had my heros from tennis history (I once had a Rod Laver racket), and you've laid eyes on a couple of my current ones. . .well Nadel is outright dreamy, but I digress. I'm so pleased you got to go to this. Thanks for bringing us along with you on this exciting adventure. To see all that talent in one place, live, well, it couldn't have happened to a nicer person!
    Seattle Daily Photo

  23. I found photos of the Australian Open. Very successful! Especially the first but I still do not know this player