Australian Open
Jas Fed v. Haas.JPG (119293 bytes) Cheers!!!  My first night in Melbourne was spent at Rod Laver Arena.   Who would have thought the only major I have not attended yet would be the US Open? Hingis v Stosur06.JPG (83991 bytes) The first match of the night saw Martina Hingis continue her comeback with a victory over the last remaining Aussie in the tourney, Sam Stosur.
Federer v Haas01.JPG (62675 bytes) Then it was time to wath Federer do his thing.  Can anyone say an open stance on the backhand is not appropriate?  Here is the world's best doing it! Federer v Haas03.JPG (65513 bytes) Federer was taken to 5 sets by Tommy Haas.  Though the match was a bit sloppy at times, t was still fun to see from my front row seats!
Black-St v As-Sre05.JPG (124983 bytes) The first match I saw the next day had Cara Black & Renee Stubbs playing the quarters of ladies doubs.  It was fun to see Cara again as I had not seen her since Wimbledon 04. Black-St v As-Sre06.JPG (88186 bytes) Here Cara and Renee share a light moment, but unfortunately they fell short in 3 sets.  I had not seen Cara lose in a long time.  She won the singles in Hi when I was there and then won ladies & mixed doubs at Wimbledon when I was there.  Oh well, next time.
Santoro v Nalbandian01.JPG (113915 bytes) The next match pitted Santoro (The Magician) vs Nalbandian.  The Magician's magic was non-existent after the first set.  Santoro v Nalbandian05.JPG (479109 bytes) Nalbandian's serve and groundies were too overpowering for the crafty Santoro.  I wouldn't be suprised to see Nalbandian make a run at the title.
Sharapova v Petrova16.JPG (743024 bytes) Then it was time for the first of the ladies quarters between Sharapova & Petrova.  This might be the only pic of Sharapova & I this year.  We shall see!:) Sharapova v Petrova06.JPG (373832 bytes) Petrova drives into this backhand, but this was really a pretty ugly match with far too many unforced errors.  Notice her eyes are not on the ball, but instead demonstrating triple vision.
Sharapova v Petrova15.JPG (819131 bytes) Sharapova extends up into this serve.  Though not on the top of her game, she was able to pull out a victory.  She must raise her level to beat Henin next round. Sharapova v Petrova18.JPG (665356 bytes) My seat is right next to the players box.  So here is Maria exalting towards me (or maybe her box) after winning a key point in the match!
Jas Rod Laver Arena.JPG (1399834 bytes) Here I am in front of Rod Laver Arena which is where the featured matches are played. Hing-Bhup v Bjo-Raym03.JPG (398212 bytes) Later in the day I headed over to Margaret Court for an exciting mixed doubs match with Hingis/Bhupati prevailing in 3 sets.  Hingis is definitely all the buzz over here with her comeback.
Henin v Davenport02.JPG (1082899 bytes) Then the night matches started.  Henin-Hardenne was too good for Davenport on a hobbled ankle.  Here she shows her backspin backhand. Henin v Davenport08.JPG (1091719 bytes) Lindsay was the last hope for the American's in the main draws.   After her defeat there were no Americans left to cheer for.  Oh well!
Parliament Tennis01.JPG (1312422 bytes) One of the highlights of being in Melbourne is seeing old friends like Don Baer & Gary Neibuhr.  Here Gary & I are hitting balls on the grass court at the Parliament House with his girls! Cara & Christian01.JPG (1022554 bytes) I have also gotten to meet some interesting people.  One of which is Cara's coach, Christian.  Here they are working on developing more power using a secret training device.  He is a neat believer and a well respected coach of many!
Grosjean v Kiefer05.JPG (976838 bytes) After breakfast with Christian & Cara, I headed out to watch a 5 hour marathon men's quarter between Grosjean & Kiefer.  Not bad seats, huh!   Today, the temp warmed up a lot! Grosjean v Kiefer03.JPG (691922 bytes) Here is Grosjean driving and jumping into his backhand.  It was a hard fought 5 hour match that was filled with its share of controversy.  But in the end Kiefer was victorious.
Grosjean v Kiefer06.JPG (1022995 bytes) Though high spirited and controversial at times, the players shook hands and congratulated each other on a well played match. Mauresmo v Schnyder02.JPG (660367 bytes) After a high quality men's match, the next match saw Mauresmo kill Schnyder.  Here she is hitting her backspin backhand.  Use your left hand, Amelie!
Clijsters v Hingis02.JPG (660186 bytes) The next ladies quarter was far more interesting.  After visiting with Hingis in the players lounge, I was motivated to root for her to beat Clijsters.   Here she is trying to penetrate the court with a forehand. Clijsters v Hingis01.JPG (684169 bytes) Clijsters was just a little bit better on this day.  Here she is no doubt driving Hingis to one corner to chase down her backhand.  Clijsters won a good one in 3 sets.
Clijsters v Hingis13.JPG (1128950 bytes) After the match, Clijsters was relieved to have the victory in hand.   But Hingis more than showed she will not be overmatched in making her comeback. Fans on Hot Day.JPG (1088433 bytes) The fans at the Aussie Open tried to stay cool in their large hats. Sadly, my camera batteries died and so I didn't get pictures at dinner with Don Baer or of the Federer vs Davydenko quarterfinal match.
Don Baer & I.JPG (917280 bytes) If you remember from my European travels, Don Baer is at all the great sporting events.  I got to meet up with him here and am grateful for his care for me here in Australia.  Here we are at Laver Arena. Henin v Sharapova Se10.JPG (681002 bytes) How about a match up of Henin & Sharapova in the semis?  It lived up to its billing.  Henin was just too good and more mature!  Here she is hitting her patented backhand.
Henin v Sharapova Se05.JPG (700225 bytes) With Sharapova not making the finals I was not able to get a pic up close of Sharapova with me.  So we will leave it to court pics.  Here is her 2 handed backhand. Henin v Sharapova Se11.JPG (779573 bytes) Her expression says it all.  That’s all the tennis for you this year Down Under.  Don’t worry, she got to eat dinner next to me later in the player’s lounge which I am sure cheered her up! 
Baghdat v Nalban SF02.JPG (715934 bytes) The next match of the day was the semi between Nalbandian and Baghdatis.  The electricity throughout this 5 setter was awesome.  Gotta love Baghdatis attacking this backhand! Baghdat v Nalban SF07.JPG (967795 bytes) The Baghdatis/ Nalbandian match had so many twists and turns including rain sneaking in through the roof in the end of the 5th set.  We just needed a little more suspense!
Baghdat v Nalban SF09.JPG (1014484 bytes) In the end, the crowd pulled Baghdatis through and into his first grand slam final at the age of 20 years young!  FYI, I love the Greek fans dating back to my experience at the Olympics! Mixed QF02.JPG (1086669 bytes) Despite the men’s semi ending at 1 am, there was still more to be seen after the men's semi as Martina Hingis and Mahesh Bhupati won to advance to the mixed doubles finals.
Mixed SF01.JPG (857046 bytes) The next day Nestor/Likhotseva won a close one to make them the other team in the mixed finals against Martina/Mahesh.  Federer v Kiefer01.JPG (700544 bytes) Since there were few matches this day at the open, I got to play golf in the morning.  But after the mixed semis Federer dominated Kiefer in the men’s semi to set up a date with Baghdatis.
Ladies Championship01.JPG (1057552 bytes) On the final Sat of the tourney, I spent the morning at Kooyang helping with a clinic and then came to Rod Laver for the Ladies Final with Mauresmo vs. Henin-Hardenne. Ladies Championship02.JPG (736507 bytes) Sadly, the final ended up being quite a disappointment as Henin retired with a stomach ailment.  Mauresmo looked good with backhands like this before the default.
Ladies Championship12.JPG (980211 bytes) It was a banner day for Mauresmo who was finally able to get the monkey off her back and win her first major!  Congats Amelie! M Dubs Championship05.JPG (773519 bytes) Then the Bryan Brothers took the court and put on a great show against Leander Paes and Martin Damn to win the Men’s Doubles Championship!!!
M Dubs Championship02.JPG (1028123 bytes) Here is a pic of two of Gary’s daughters and me as we were watching on Championship Saturday!  Not bad seats for the Championships!  Thanks Gary & Don! M Dubs Championship12.JPG (1061361 bytes) Soon it was time for the Bryan’s to celebrate their close 3 set victory.  It was a very interesting and entertaining match.  Too bad tv never shows doubles! 
Mixed Finals01.JPG (1136136 bytes) After playing in the morning at Melbourne Park:), I returned in the evening to watch the mixed doubles Championships.  Here is Bhuphati/Hingis serving the first point to Likhovtseva/Nestor. Mixed Finals09.JPG (961544 bytes) Hingis and Bhuphati were a little too good for their opponents this night.  Here they are attacking the net toward their victory.
Mixed Finals15.JPG (866091 bytes) In the end Martina Hingis was holding another Grand Slam title in her first tourney back after retirement.  It was her first mixed doubles title and the umpteenth of Bhuphati’s career. Jas & Stan.JPG (819840 bytes) In between the mixed finals & men’s final I joined Stan Smith and the rest of the Amex group for dinner.  Here are Stan & I taking a break from the group before heading to the men’s final!
Men's Final01.JPG (1252078 bytes) The arena was filled to capacity as Federer opened the match serving to Baghdatis. Men's Final10.JPG (1333612 bytes) The boisterous Greek fans kept Baghdatis going in the early going as they chanted and cheered between every point.
Men's Final23.JPG (991170 bytes) At the end it was Federer’s 7th Grand Slam title of his short career.   I have been fortunate to see two of the finals in person and hopefully more in the future. Men's Final11.JPG (1164516 bytes) Watching the men’s final from these seats was the perfect ending to a great week of tennis at the Aussie Open.  I was very fortunate to have the access and tickets that I had to make the week so memorable.