So, day 2 for me is day 3 of the tournament since I skipped Tuesday to sightsee in Quebec City. I’m sad I missed Rafa’s tightly contested doubles match, but my friend and I had a lovely time in Quebec. I highly recommend it as a nice place to be tourist.
I started the day with the Verdasco/Mayer match on court BN. I got there after Nando rolled through the first set. Mayer was putting up a bit more of a fight in the second, but was mainly frustrated and grumpy. He hit one ball so far out of the court, I think I might find it in my yard in Texas when I get back home. Mo gave him a code violation (Mo!). The BN court is the most uncomfortable photography-wise. There’s no place to lean back and you’ve got no barrier between yourself and the court. I deeply apologize to the people sitting on the other side of the court who has to spend that much time staring at my pastey white legs! Nando was all business and got his job done.
One thing about sitting court-side (or in the first few rows, I’m sure) – you can sometimes hear the players breathing when they are really sucking wind. They are good at hiding the appearance of it, but you can hear it. And the sound of them wacking the ball is much, much louder.
After that match, I went to the main court for Ferrero/Monfils. Monfils was pushing the ball and that seemed to be just fine with Ferrero. Monfils tried to pump himself and the crowd up. The crowd responded, but it wasn’t working for his game. After some lunch, it was time for Tsonga/Schuetler. Again, I don’t have much to say about the tennis as I was too busy trying to keep the players in focus as they ran around the court. The bench on the center court is comfier and you can actually lean back, but by that time of the day, the blue plastic on it was so hot that it felt a bit melty. (Oh, and in case I’m bitching too much about the conditions for being the luckiest person in the world to have a court-side photography pass, please understand I’m just bitchy. I’d bitch about winning the lotto. I was thrilled to be sitting court-side and am fully aware of how lucky I am to have had that opportunity.)
Next up – Rafa practice! It was actually so hot and crowed there, I didn’t stay for the whole thing. I can’t stand being in the middle of a tight crowd and didn’t get there early enough to be up by the fence. He was on the closer court, so I did get a few nice shots before I left. He arrived and walked on to court 8 (the one he was scheduled to be on per the list I had), but saw Marat on the court and got confused. Then he looked over to the next court (the closer one), saw Roig and Gabashvili, and figured things out.
Next, I enjoyed some A/C in the media area. (God, I love A/C.) When I left there, I ran into a lady wearing a Vamos shirt from this site! It totally made my day. I won’t mention her name in case that would violate her privacy, but it was so weird/fun/random to see someone walking by with my silly little Rafa drawing on their shirt!
I made sure I got to Rafa’s match in plenty of time to get a seat on the photography bench. It was very interesting hearing the pros talk about the best position on the bench. “Well, he’s left-handed, so if you want good serving pictures from the x side, you need to be…” “Yeah, but what about the running forehand? Need to be on x side for that”. I just took a seat towards the end so as to not get in their way. Plus, this put me closer to the service line which is better for my tiny zoom (tiny in comparison to the work-horses they have).
I couldn’t even see Ferrer’s bench (I’d lucked out to be on Rafa’s end), so I didn’t know he’d called the trainer at one point. I was completely surprised when he retired, not to mention bummed because it meant my “close-up” time with Rafa was done. Again, I have no idea how the match was going or being played because I was trying to keep a focus dot on the players and time my shutter clickes to get the much desired “ball on the racket” shot – which I suck at. I have to say, however, that I think I got my favorite picture of Rafa ever. It was when he was running to the baseline after the coin toss. The smile on his face practically screams, “Eeeeee! I get to play a tennis match again!” Or, “Let’s see how much I can out run the camera man.” Either way, it’s fun.
After the abbreviated match, they brought out a wheelchair player. They introduced him to Rafa and then the guys had a light hit. Rafa was all smiles during it. It’s a really nice way to help bring some exposure to wheelchair tennis.
I then went to the press conference room because I wasn’t going to miss this one! On the door, it said that Rafa was going to be there at 8:45. I hear an announcement calling people to the room because Rafa’s on his way in 10 minutes. Okay. I sat off to the side in the second row and waited – listening in to the conversations around. Most of the reporters were talking about scores and match info. After a bit, a guy comes in and says that Rafa is delayed – he doesn’t know how long. They lady who does the transcriptions threw up her hands and said, “big surprise.” She and one reporter then started telling “Rafa being late” stories and one reporter suggested they start a pool on when he would arrive. Someone else comes in and says that Rafa’s on a practice court, so who knows when he’ll be here. I don’t care. I’m going to wait.
Then, there’s another announcement that he’s on the way and this time he actually shows up. He sits down and struggles with getting his microphone on. How long has he been doing this? Someone has to help him. He then lets out a huge yawn and his eyes get big and he looks embarrassed as he realizes that the yawn boomed out through the speakers. Except for the hand gestures that it took to explain the speed of the court, the presser was pretty boring. Rafa’s never going to say anything new and most of the reporters know that…so, lame questions. And even if the question is interesting, Rafa will often “misunderstand” it to make one of his pat answers fit. You can really tell he dislikes the whole thing and since it seems so pointless, one wonders why they continue to do them. After the last question, he yanked the mic off and jogged out of the room. And thus, my day at the Rogers Cup ended.
Just a few images…