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Tennis as a spectator - highlights and regrets

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Tennis as a spectator - highlights and regrets Empty Tennis as a spectator - highlights and regrets

Post by MrInvisible Tue 25 Jun 2019, 1:28 pm

For a change I'm trying a non-tournament related thread - this is for all of us who've physically gone to watch tennis at a slam, Masters or other ATP/WTA event. What have been the big highlights? The players you were really glad to see on their way up/in their prime? Conversely, is there anyone you've not seen play who you really regret not having had chance to watch?

A few highlights for me:

Federer: saw him before I'd even heard of him, at an indoor ATP tournament in Lyon back in 1999. I became a fan after this match - loved the single-handed backhand though at the time I felt he lacked the mental toughness and consistency to win a slam - glad at how wrong I was! He played the better tennis in his match but his opponent - some guy called Lleyton Hewitt, ultimately proved that bit cannier on the key points and won in 3 sets.
Nadal: saw him last year at Wimbledon when he was playing at a v high level and also saw him battle back to beat Roddick at London ATP Masters a few years ago.
Djokovic: saw him at Wimbledon (both in match and on practice court) at 1st year he won it.
'Guga' Kuerten: My favourite ever claycourter to watch - saw him at Roland Garros in 2004, when he was still in good nick - the year he shocked Federer (when he was world no. 1) in 3rd round demolition.
Henman: saw him playing doubles early on in his career, and already his volleying skills were v impressive
Del Potro: Saw him in a great topsy-turvy tense match at London ATP Masters few years ago with Federer - watching him unleash that forehand is one of the great sights of tennis. Also, have enjoyed watching the likes of Nishikori, Wawrinka, Karlovic (playing against someone half his size and marvelling at how they returned his serve) and Lopez (that sliced backhand is a thing of beauty), and seen Serena, Kvitova and Sharapova.

Regrets: I've never seen Andy Murray, one of the best of his generation and the best British tennis player ever. Would loved to have been there at Wimbledon to witness his historic 1st win there, or to have seen him in the flesh battling it out in Davis Cup. On the womens' side the one player I never got to see who I really wish I'd had chance to was Justine Henin - really loved her aggressive all-court game and that single-handed backhand.

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Post by JuliusHMarx Tue 25 Jun 2019, 3:27 pm

I wish I'd seen Connors. Late in his career he was scheduled to play in Birmingham (UK) and I had tickets, but he pulled out.

As with any sport, it helps if you actually want one of the players (or teams) to win, otherwise you can appreciate the skill, but there's not much emotional involvement.

As such, highlights are mainly several Davis Cup matches (Henman, Rusedski, both Murrays) and also Henman beating Kafelnikov in 5 sets at Wimbledon, just after Kafelnikov won the FO, and before Henman was well known.

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Post by sirfredperry Wed 26 Jun 2019, 8:34 am

My first Wimbledon visit was 1968 - the first GS of the Open Era. Lucky enough that day to see Laver, Hoad and Pancho among others.

In the early 70s saw some great S&V play from the likes of B-Jean, Goolagong, Wade and Margaret Court.

First glimpse of Roger was his stunning five-setter against Sampras - the only time they met. I was on Centre Court that day.

A few years earlier I'd seen Sampras at Queen's prowling like some panther about to strike when his chance came. Also fortunate to see Henman play a great final against Pete at Queen's one year, although the American won in a final set tiebreak.

I was courtside for a Saturday semi played at ExCel in London one year, featuring Marc Rosset. The Swiss was a huge guy. I watched in awe as he pounded down unreturnable serves. Next day he won the title.

More recently was at Wimbledon to see Lleyton Hewitt's last match at SW19. Typically, it was a five-setter in which the Aussie battler saved MPs before losing to Nieminen.

Lady Perry is the one to envy in my family, though. She was at Wimbledon for the epic Rog-Rafa late-night thriller in 2008.

TV's great if you can't get to a tournament. But it doesn't show the speed, the power, the movement of the players. You have to be there.

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Post by MrInvisible Thu 27 Jun 2019, 1:48 pm

@SFP: Sounds like you've done v well over years seeing the different eras in action. What's your biggest tennis spectating regret? Was it missing out personally on that Roger-Rafa final in 2008, or is there a tennis great you somehow didn't get to see over the years? Presume you saw Borg/McEnroe/Connors in action during the late 70s/early 80s golden era.

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Post by sirfredperry Fri 28 Jun 2019, 8:37 am

I never saw Borg until he played on the senior circuit. I saw a splendid five-setter at Wimbledon between Cash and Johnny Mac towards the end of their careers. Never saw Connors live.

I've seen Murray at Wimbledon and it would certainly have been extra special to see him beat Djoko in the final in 2013. The atmosphere would have been amazing.

I was lucky enough to see a Briton win Wimbledon. I bunked off college one Friday, queued up (yes, you could do that even on finals day then) and got in to watch Ann Jones bt B-Jean to take the title.

Funnily enough, one of my biggest Wimbledon regrets was not a match I missed but one I saw. That was 1970 when Roger Taylor bt Laver. The cheering was so loud on Centre Court that it interrupted play on outside courts. Everyone was thrilled with a British victory. But I was a great Laver fan and was one of very few in the crowd disappointed with the result!


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