miri at the Rogers Cup – day two

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…

34 Responses

  1. hcfoo says:

    Great reporting! Thank you for all the little details. And I love that last pic.

    By the way, I’m actually wondering what kinda questions ‘should’ be asked during post-match interviews so that everybody’s not bored….

    • miri says:

      Good question and one I don’t have an answer for. Problem is, Rafa doesn’t really want to give them anything, you know? He’s the best and not revealing stuff no matter how much reporters try to drag it out of him. So, I don’t know what they can do…

      • johanne says:

        You know what’s funny tho? They all know he’s not going to give them any more info than he wants, yet seemingly every reporter there still wants to be at his pressers. Goes to show what he means for the tennis, no?

      • Atch2 says:

        I really enjoy reading ur reports, intimate and entertaining, and the photos are great. I think given the language thing, Rafa being diplomatic and that Rafa doesn’t like to give away too much it can be difficult to get new info fm him. And some questions r just repetitive, e.g., How are the knees? But knowing what they know abt Rafa, the info he has already shared with them and their reporting experience in general, you’d think reporters could come up with some new and/or more interesting questions.

        I must say that photos, especially your 2nd one of RunningManRafa as an example, are more than enough to communicate what Rafa is thinking and feeling bec he is so expressive. U can tell when he’s grouchy vs when he’s happy.

        Miri, do they do the pressers with Rafa in that straw woven sofa?

        • miri says:

          Miri, do they do the pressers with Rafa in that straw woven sofa?

          It’s actually two chairs sitting side by side (for doubles teams, I guess). They have that woveny stuff for the back and arms and then a cream cushion on the seat and back.

  2. Delta says:

    Miri, sure your not with the AP or SI, again your commentary was “spot on” ; ( to steal Mary’s words)
    Incredible reporting and added plus with your “eye for a great pic!” You have capped off a great day!;-)

    • killian says:

      AMEN!! What a great job and THANKS for sharing. it makes this all so much more real and exciting—you have got a way with words AND the camera. Thanks, Miri!

  3. sia says:

    Great photography Miri !! Can’t seem to enlarge these pics though.

  4. johanne says:

    Another great post with lots of fun details of your experience as a photog! Love your pics (as per usual) and I noticed that Rafa’s match shorts have the checkers on them – those didn’t read on the internet feed I was watching; thought they were just plain white. Anyways, I’m really loving this outfit on him. He looks great! And I can’t say it enough – LOVE all the smiles from him & LOVE seeing him back in the game!!! :D

    • johanne says:

      Oh and I forgot to mention: 1) the calf muscle in “Eeeeeee!” is unbelievable; and 2) it’s really cool how you captured Rafa’s feet off the ground in “backhand.”

  5. Suzanne says:

    Miri, pic #2 of Rafi sprinting to the baseline is one of the best pictures of him I’ve ever seen…no exaggeration! I know why it was your favorite. It shows so well the joy he has in returning to the game he loves so much. No kidding, I think you could sell it to Tennis magazine or some other notable publication. In watching him play these past few days you must have felt that happiness from him. I sure hope he wins!

    • Atch2 says:

      Seriously agree. One of the best shots of Rafa.

      • dutchgirl says:

        Me too, you’ve really captured his joy about being in a match again! You’re so right to consider it your best pic ever!! The other pics are great as well, thanks for sharing them.

  6. patzin says:

    Thanks for the great summary of your day and the photos are really good. What an opportunity. I’ve done some photography and this sounds like a treat to me. I just a piece that said Rafa is playing doubles in Cinci with Novak – interesting.

  7. Debbie says:

    Beautiful pictures!!

  8. An says:

    Again, realy good photography. Love them all but Eeeee is a perfect pic!

    Thanks for sharing and enjoy the rest of youre time there!

  9. mary says:

    Your fav pic!(flov it). Well Rafa looks like a little kid running outside to play with his mates at morning tea and knows there’s some yummy snacks somewhere in his or his mates lunch box.
    Seriously though you seem to have had a full on day & evening. You must be rushing to get those clothes washed in the sink. He, he.
    It must of been absolutely great to run into someone that reads and posts to this site. It’s means you touch people out there in cyberspace.

    Btw as to a question for Rafa with any meaning. I’ve been trying to think of one for about 10 months now. I’m sooooooooooo clever, deh! I’d be hopeless as a journo. Maybe I would say to him, has he got a question he’d like to ask me? Or maybe sit there smile and fumble with my camara pretending to look professional.

    Mucho gracias miri. You really make me feel I’m there.
    Btw por favor Rafa’s breathing & of course the smell!!! Or should we really know? Yes, yes, yesssssss!

  10. mary says:

    Second last pic. That’s Rafi imagining me (really xisca bugger) at about that perfect height, if ya know what I mean. “Checks shirt imagines faints” <3 <3

  11. mary says:

    I bet he is looking straight at you in pic 5 miri.
    I’m speechless. Nah, never!!!!!!! How did you refrain yourself from not running over there and pouncing on him. What would they do, arrest you for having the best moment of your life. Ah miri what a story that would make. LOL ;) ;)

  12. rafandready says:

    Miri – you could add these photos to things to sell to support the site, I’d snap up a few! They are amazing – thanks for sharing them, and your story.

  13. kefuoe says:

    Miri: Great, great photos. Whenever you have doubts about investing in camera equipment, just look at these again.

  14. Atch2 says:

    I was looking at ur photos again Miri and I luv the title of the first one ‘See Thru Shorts’. Simple yet thought provoking.

    And I wonder what they will have to do when Rafa starts winning more Masters series and the name sign gets too small to fit the number of tournaments won.

  15. rafafan1 says:

    Miri, thanks for the pix and the great job you’ve done feeding us rafa fans who can’t be there with the details. Will you be at Cincy or US Open? I’m planning to go to both.

  16. rafafan1 says:

    Miri, in the 5th pix (after signing camera), it looks like he’s looking directly in your direction? Did you get any opportunity to walk up to talk to him after the match or in the press room? That would be so awesome.

    • miri says:

      He’s not looking at me, just moving his eyes from one direction to the next and I happened to catch a bit that makes it look that way. It happens often when photographing people. I have a picture of Obama where it looks like he’s looking right at me…but he’s just turning to talk to a security guard.

      And no, no opportunity to talk to him.

  17. cookie says:

    Miri, you’ve reaped amazing photographs with all your hard work! Thank you for enduring all the suffering to provide us with your great coverage! I would never have known how it feels to be on the court with history in the making had it not been for your daily blogs from Montreal!

  18. faecoleman says:

    Omg these pics are fabulous, Rafa looks so happy, you’ve really captured the Rafa spirit well, and well done great photography. Your a genius! You obviously know your stuff..