Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Chasety downity, whackety backety

THE thing is, I was only supporting Sabine Lisicki because she played with a smile at the AEGON semi-finals in Birmingham, seemed to be a good player and, generally, seemed a nice person. I had no idea she'd reach the Wimbledon semi-finals on a wildcard. She has defeated number 4 in the world Li Na and number 9 Marion Bartoli, who herself defeated Serena Williams. I stopped blogging about it because I couldn't really believe it, and if you could hear me commentating on the tennis you'd probably stop reading for good anyway. In fact, I had to restrain myself on Twitter, waffling on and screaming triumph at every point won against Na. I was probably very annoying. That said, in response to this and whatever else I was spouting on about that day, Nelly kindly told me later: "I love how excited you get about, well, everything".

Tomorrow Lisicki faces Maria Sharapova in what will undoubtedly be a very tough match. No ladies singles player has ever won the Wimbledon Championships, but given that some people think she serves like a bloke, perhaps she can pull off a Becker or an Ivanišević? Be it on a big screen or on my laptop, hiding in a corner of the laboratory, I shall be watching and cheering along. This is going to be good!

Normal service will be resumed once the tennis has come to an end.

Post title from Thwok! by Matt Harvey.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Wack, thwok, thwack, pok

SABINE Lisicki, unseeded, beats world number 4 Li Na in a thrilling three sets: 3-6 6-4 8-6. At one stage she was two match points down.

Seriously... wow. Incredible match.

Post title from Thwok! by Matt Harvey.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Hittety backety pingety zang!

HURRAH! Sabine Lisicki today absolutely slaughtered Anastasija Sevastova 6-1 6-1 to progress through to the second round of Wimbledon. The match, delayed by rain, was already one rescheduled after play progressed too slowly yesterday on Court 8. Lisicki and Sevastova were the fourth match due on that court on Tuesday, but play began with Daniela Hantuchova who, as previously mentioned, plays really slowly... it can't be coincidence that all other courts completed four or five matches when Court 8 barely started its third...!

Never mind, play got going late this afternoon and the victory came quickly - the first set lasted 19 minutes, the second 26 minutes. Comfortable stuff.

Tomorrow she gets to play on Centre Court where she faces Li Na, who is seeded third for the entire tournament. Eep. So, er, fingers crossed then...

If you are intrigued by the titles of my previous two posts, they are from the poem Thwok! by Matt Harvey, poet in residence at last year's Wimbledon Championships.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Thwackety wackety zingety ping

LAST Saturday we went to watch the semi-finals of the AEGON Classic at the Priory Club in Edgbaston, Birmingham. I'd not been to see professional tennis before, but being just down the road, it seemed silly not to go. Armed with picnics, sun cream and umbrellas, we had a pleasant day that has made me very excited for Wimbledon.

First to play were Daniela Hantuchova and Ana Ivanovic, in matching shocking pink dresses. It was a bad start for Ivanovic, probably embarrassed at having come to the match wearing the same outfit as her opponent, as she was broken in the very first game. She regained dominance, but she was consistently sloppy. Meanwhile, Hantuchova played mind games with Ivanovic, and it was Hantuchova who eventually took the victory, despite her lower seeding. It was a bit of a slow game - even Martina Navratilova, present to celebrate the tournament's thirtieth anniversary, got bored and went home before its completion. I supported Hantuchova from the beginning as the underdog, but I wasn't happy with her play, which seemed unsportsmanlike and lacking grace.

Next to play were Shaui Peng, seeded third and the highest seeded player remaining in the competition, and Sabine Lisicki - unseeded, unheard of, headphones in her ears as she came on court. Now this was a match: faster, much more exciting and fair play from both sides of the court. Both seemed nice players, not ones to mess with each other or challenge umpire decisions, but it was Lisicki who caught our attention. She played with a smile... indeed, she played very, very well with a smile. At each missed shot she would squeal in anguish, followed by an embarrassed giggle. She won convincingly, and was ecstatic.

Two days later (the final was delayed by one day because of rain), she repeated this performance and beat Hantuchova to the trophy, only her second ever singles title. I gather it was equally as effortless. It qualified her for Wimbledon, raised her WTA ranking by 38 places to 62 and earnt her four new fans - Rachel and myself and my parents.

Today she takes on Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova in the first round of Wimbledon, where she reached the quarter finals in 2009 before falling into two years of injury and comparative obscurity. I hope you will join me in cheering her on.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Four red cars in a super good red line

IT was supposed to be a relaxing holiday, a week in which to unwind, to switch off, count to ten and reboot ourselves in the midst of a busy few months at work. But it felt strange; my mind could not switch off. It did not want to read nor watch the world go by. The plan to have a quiet week simply wouldn’t agree with me. Here I was, confined within a hotel, desperate to see what lay outside of its (admittedly very lovely) walls. We were a 30 minute walk from the UNESCO World Heritage city centre of Split, Croatia, and yet, rules being rules (albeit self-enforced), we weren’t out exploring. I wanted to see everything there was to see, to know all that there is to know about Split and Croatia generally; and yet, at the same time, I did not, for I could remember how exhausted we have been on all previous holidays because we’ve tried to do too much. It was peaceful and tranquil: I was distracted.

I hid behind my book, but I was watching the clientele.

A couple just ahead of me were having some drinks delivered. What a place I’m in, I thought, to have waiter service by the pool. The couple gestured at the waitress to shoo, her job done, her purpose fulfilled. How rude, I thought.

A lady turned over, the first time in an hour, to allow her back to tan. I wondered how red she would be that evening.

Five beer-bellied, overly tanned Englishmen were drinking beer at the opposite corner of the pool complex. As the beers kept coming, their volume increased. They would hail the waitress and keep her talking as they ogled her: a young, fit, Mediterranean twentysomething in the presence of five balding men in the midst of mid-life crises. I tried hard not to watch their pack behaviour, attempting once more to delve into my book. But a thought crept into my mind. Had I found a corner of Croatia that is forever Benidorm?

Sunday, 5 June 2011


WE went to a really lovely wedding yesterday in Buckinghamshire, full of enthusiastic singing, happiness all round and... a reception at Pinewood Studios! Wandering around the expansive gardens of Heatherden Hall, we came across a memorial to Desmond Llewelyn, Q from the Bond films. The gardens were lovely, with well crafted lawns and secret gardens nestled behind well-tended borders. As the sun descended, the rabbits came out to say hello. It was such a tranquil spot, so close to where cinematic history is made yet a world away from the glamour of the film world, a fitting location for the legacy of Bond's old fatherly quartermaster to rest.