Friday, 10 June 2011

A Trip to Queens Part 1

I was lucky enough to get two tickets in the ballot for the tennis at Queens. The tickets were for Court 1 for the Round of 16 matches, and although at first I was slightly disappointed not to have got tickets for centre court, I realised we would still get some great matches because of the quality of the draw. As much as I like watching the likes of Murray and Nadal, I was excited about the chance to see some new players that I had yet to see. When the order of play was released on the Monday night, I was delighted that our court had some potentially exciting clashes including the likes of Tsonga, Verdasco and Del Potro.

We arrived at Queen's Club at about 11.45am ready for the beginning of play at 12.30pm. We headed straight to the practice courts and navigated our way underneath the stands of the main stadium and through a number of narrow pathways to the other side of the complex. We managed to spot a number of players such as Xavier Mallise, Nenad Zimonjic, Janko Tipsarevic and Giles Simon. We stood and watched Tipsarevic and Simon practice in the rain ahead of their third round matches.

Giles Simon on the practice courts

Folllowing the brief rain shower, the clouds passed and we headed over to Court 1 to find our seats. Court 1 is situated right next to the centre court which meant we could hear frequent updates from what was going on in the matches on centre court! Court 1 is made up of one large stand of reserved seats, which were full for the whole day. As we listened to the beginning of play on centre court there was a brief delay on Court 1 as the courts dried following the rain. This was because there is only one set of ground staff so centre court always takes priority.

Our view from our seats on court 1

Eventually it was time for the first match on the order of play which was between David Nalbandian and Fernando Verdasco. It was an exciting match-up on paper against two players who have shown glimpses of brilliance in their career. The match started well and was a competitive affair throughout the first set. Nalbandian wasted several break points in the first game and then again at 3-3 and this was to prove costly as Verdasco seized his chance at 6-5 to convert on his third set point to take the first set.

Verdasco and Nalbandian at the net

Verdasco dominated proceedings from the back of the court

After the first set, Verdasco totally ran away with the match and overrawed a disappointing Nalbandian to win 7-5 6-1. I was very impressed with Verdasco who has been patchy in form to say the least during 2011. He served and returned extremely well throughout the match, and put Nalbandian under immense pressure with the power and depth of his shots. The second set was a flawless display although he was assisted by a limp effort from Nalbandian who was returning from injury this week following several months out with a hamstring and hernia problem.

Nalbandian struggled throughout the second set

Plain sailing for Verdasco

Mutual respect at the net

The second match to take to Court 1 was the all French affair between Michael Llodra and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. This was the game I was most looking forward too and like the last game, the early proceedings suggested it would be a high quality and competitive match. Both men held their serve with ease in the early exchanges with Llodra utilising his capabilities at the net to good effect. However as we moved towards the crucial stage in the first set, the heavens opened and play was halted.

Llodra and Tsonga take to the court

After a brief delay, the covers were cleared and we waited for the restart of the match. However it never did!!! The ground staff came to clear the covers and the umpire checked the state of the court but they all swiftly disappeared. The umpire returned to the court some 15 minutes later to inform the crowd that Llodra had retired injured. It was a real disappointment as I would have liked to have seen more from both players, especially Tsonga who is one of the most entertaining players on the tour. I was surprised how huge Tsonga was in the flesh! Llodra did not seem to be up for the match; with such a heavy schedule over the last recent weeks and Wimbledon on the horizon it is an inevitable occurence at these kind of warm-up events. However it is a disappointment for the fans who have forked out a lot of money.

Tsonga is officially huge!

Tsonga comes to the net

Llodra retired at 4-3 down in the first set

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