Open for business
Sport Review #142
|Richard Irvine||Feb 18|
The Australian Open is like a Hamilton nightclub - nothing interesting happens ‘til well after midnight.
It’s the closest we have to a home Major tournament, and thanks to Melbourne’s serious dedication to putting on a quality event for players and fans (not unlike our own summer tournaments), it’s gripping viewing.
Sure, there are games in the afternoon, but the best action is late in the evening. It’s a constant game of cat and mouse between quality rest time and missing something awesome. When I turned the telly off just after midnight as Greek firebrand Stefanos Tsitsipas took the third set off Nadal to stay in the match, I knew I was making a huge mistake. Turning the phone on next morning to read about the greatest comeback ever that occurred when I was wasting my time sleeping, I was heartbroken.
After the massive quarantine schadenfreude as multi millionaires found plenty to complain about in their luxury accomodation, the tennis has been amazing, with the backdrop of a sudden Melbourne lockdown making the crowd disappear then re-appear.
The Kyrgios v Thiem match was the highlight, with the former showing the full range of tricks and crowd chat, before the latter found a way to wedge his way into the match, then complete the job.
This is all against the backdrop of taking up tennis again. As a former journeyman player who haunted the early rounds of Waikato tournaments in the 80’s, I was keen to see if the old magic was still there. I joined the local club, restrung the racquets, re-read Winning Ugly and turned up to Wednesday club night absolutely fizzing to go.
And it’s great. Sure, I was bloody sore after the first few games, but the satisfaction of getting a few serves in, not letting my doubles partner down badly and getting a backhand to pop every now and again has been immense. And I haven’t sprained anything. Yet.
Anyway - I highly recommend clearing your weekend schedule for the finals - here’s what’s coming up.
Semi final 2 - Daniil Medvedev v Stefanos Tsitsipas - 9.30pm tonight
Medvedev is a tremendous player, with a trademark no-celebration celebration when he wins a tournament, which I massively respect. Tsitsipas looks like he lives in a van, but is an amazing athlete and has a lot of fight. Both have single hand backhands, which I love, so it’s tough to pick a favourite. Just tune in.
Women’s Final - Jennifer Brady v Naomi Osaka
This should be a procession for Osaka. She took down Serena Williams comfortably yesterday in the match that should have been the final, and with Ash Barty out of the picture, she should be too strong for the 22nd seed. You can probably catch this then re-watch a few Rick and Mortys after.
Final - Novak Djokovic v ? - Sunday night, time TBC
I used to love Novak Djokovic with his bulging eyes, crazy entourage in the box and that big serve. But the anti-vax chat and the fact he organised a special tournament and nightclub session seemingly designed to promote COVID-19 was the final straw. The last standing of the big three, he needs to be taken down.
Thanks for reading - Richard
The week's best NZ sport content
Bugger the underarm - Ian Anderson wrote the detailed appreciation of Lance Carins’ six sixes at the MCG we all needed [Stuff]
Stats! How the BLACKCAPS become the number one team in Tests by the numbers [The Spinoff]
“We were all telling our parents we were off to the library as there was a library next door to the gym and we ended up with bleeding noses from the boxing gym. Our parents said, ‘What the hell is going on?’”
The story of Jimmy Peau [NZ Herald]
A brief history of Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa’s falling out, and what it could mean for next time around [NZ Herald]
The Detail podcast on the raft of reviews in our sporting codes, and Sport New Zealand plans to help us move forward [Locker Room]
A boat journey from Rotterdam to Amsterdam along canals, through locks and under bridges is a chill time, and probably just what you need today.
Why rockstar pastor Chris Lentz was booted out of the Australian evangelical church Hillsong - and why his attempts at redemption are failing [Vanity Fair]
The creepy hotel documentary was the ideal mini binge for a mini lockdown. It’s slow in places and the internet detectives are pretty irritating, but the intrigue factor is high. It’s on Netflix.
Bring back the gif
Me, three minutes into Lockdown.
Sport Review is the week’s best NZ sport writing and loads more in your inbox every Friday at 8am. Tell your friends!