Slightly shorter report today because I’m tired but want to catch up. I started the day with breakfast with my friend and when we went to the very lovely church across the street from our hotel to take some pictures. We then hung out a bit as it was her last day here. After saying our good-byes, I headed over to the tournament. On the way there, I finally met Nima from Tennis Connected. We walked into the site and then I went into the media room to pick up the practice schedule (I figured I’d missed Rafa’s practice, but wanted to make sure). Well, they weren’t happy I was there. They said my pass was just until yesterday. I had thought that was the case, but no one mentioned it when I turned in my special photography pass yesterday, so I figured, “why not try?” Well, the “why not” is that they took the pass and now I don’t have it as a souvenir. Oh well. I have the memories and pictures and that’s much better.
Headed off to center court to watch Verdasco/Roddick. It was a really good match and went down to the wire. Nando got head-casey a few times, but managed to not entirely freak out and let those moments lose the match for him. He and Roddick exchanged a fairly long hug at the end of the match – think they were talking about close losses in Grand Slams?
Next, it was Rafa time! He looked a bit more sure of himself today, but I admit there was one moment that scared me. He half slid into a shot and then kind of pulled up. He turned and looked to his team, but then seemed okay. Then, the next change-over, he was sending hand-signals to his team and that had me worried again. I’m horrible at judging whether he’s moving freely or not, so…I don’t know. There were many small fist pumps throughout the match, so perhaps he was trying to work on that confidence bugger-boo. But, he won the match without much stress and that’s good.
After the match, they had him help with another on-court ceremony thing. They had two lucky people who got chances to hit a serve at a target and if they hit it, they won a prize. If they didn’t, they would tell Rafa which item they wanted and he had two chances to hit the target and win the prize for them. The first person was a youngish lad and he didn’t manage to hit his target, but Rafa got it in the first try. The next was a lady who had the same luck as the lad. She picked a racket bag that was laying on the court as her prize – not an easy target to hit. Rafa tried once. No luck. Again with no luck and he looked very embarrassed. They gave him a third try and…again he missed. He dropped his racket and grabbed his head. Okay, they gave him one more chance. He acted like he was going to serve, but instead he ran up to the net and then just hit the ball towards the bag…and missed! Finally, he just walked over the net, picked up the bag, and took it to the lady. It was hilarious. (Sadly, my memory card filled up just after he got back to the other side of the net and didn’t get any pictures of him handing the bag to the lady.)
Then we had to clear out so they could get things ready for the night session. I got some dinner and then went to see a bit of the Nando/Feli doubles. Feli reached for an awkward ball and then grabbed his back. He kept trying to stretch it a bit after that. Looking at my photos now, I see his back was taped up before the problem happened, so it seems to be an ongoing thing.
After that, I watched a bit of Fed and Stanley the Manly, but I was tired and decided to go back to the hotel.
Here are a few photos – they suck compared to the earlier ones. I miss court-side and my nicer lens! (Can’t use it from the stands.) And, I was completely unable to deal with the light. I’m hoping I can clean things up a bit more once I get home to my beloved Photoshop.