Tennis Memories + Hard-Hitting Questions

I saw Paul’s (@PaulY_WTAtennis) blog with these questions and wanted to answer them myself since I thought they were so interesting and he asked people to share their answers. Some of the questions I will not answer thoroughly because I’ve already had ideas in mind for future blog posts relating to the question and I don’t want to spoil those.

1) How did you become a Tennis Fan?
Don’t want to spoil a future blog idea so I’ll leave it at this: 2011 Australian Open.

2) First Match You Remember
Nadal vs Federer at Wimbledon in 2008. Don’t remember many specifics from it except that it was amazing. The match that got me into tennis though was Hewitt vs Nalbandian at the 2011 Australian Open. It was on as a replay, but I didn’t know it.  I thought it was live

3) Favorite Tennis Memory
Many ideas come to my mind. My favorite though was when Novak came back from two sets down and two match points down to Roger Federer in the 2011 US Open semifinal. It was the first big five set match I was a fan of him for, which may be why I put this one over some other classics. Novak was down two sets and I was having French Open memories from earlier that year. He fought back to make it two sets all in this match however. At 5-3 40-15 Federer had two match points when Novak hit the greatest shot ever hitting a clean return winner off an out wide serve. He got the crowd on his side following the point. The next point Federer went for a body serve and Novak just got out of the way of it. Federer clipped the net and the ball went wide. Novak got the break on a double fault to make it 5-4 and never looked back. He won the match 7-5 in the fifth. It was the most exciting match I have seen. I was jumping up and down after he won it. It was amazing. I have that 5-3 game on my phone and often go to it when I need a lift. I won’t ever forget that comeback. It was incredible.

Novak after hitting "the shot" (Timothy Clary)

Novak after hitting “the shot” (Timothy Clary)

4) Tennis Low Point
There have been a few. The toughest I would say was Olympics Sunday in 2012 when Novak lost to Del Potro in the bronze medal match and Sabine lost with Christopher Kas in the mixed doubles bronze medal match. I was so depressed afterwards. Especially the way they lost. Sabine and Kas were in a supertiebreak and Sabine was crying afterward (and during the super TB). Nole had so many expectations to medal.  He couldn’t convert BP’s (0-6) and was hit off the court. I expected medals and was so sad they couldn’t get one. I mean what are the chances both your faves don’t medal when three of four do. They were the odd one out in both 😦

Note: A close second was 2013 Wimbledon when they both lost in the finals. Not taking a single set.

5) Favorite ATP Player
Novak, duh 😛

6) Favorite WTA Player
Sabine 😀

7) Player You Wish Could Un-Retire
John McEnroe. I would’ve loved to see him play. I often think if I’d have been alive back then that he would’ve been my favorite player. I love his antics on court and think they’d be cool to see.

8) Player You Never Want to Retire
Novak. I’ve thought about him retiring. Tennis without him. And I just don’t know what I’ll do with myself. He’s my favorite player. He is a big part of why I follow tennis. I love the passion he has. How personable he is. How funny he is. I don’t think another player will ever do it for me like he has.

9) Most Stressful Match You’ve Watched
There are so many. SOOOOO MANY. I’m a Sabine fan you know hahaha 😉 And I’ve watched Novak this year have so many problems serving out sets and matches. With that in mind I guess I’ll have to go with one of the two times I couldn’t even watch anymore. The first was the second set tiebreak vs Andy in the 2013 Australian Open final. The second was the third set tiebreak against Federer at the 2014 Wimbledon final. I’m going to have to go with the 2014 Wimbledon final though. We went through a lot as fans between winning the 2013 Australian Open final and winning the 2014 Wimbledon final. We watched him make three finals in that span (4 if you include the 2013 RG SF which was the final, really) and lose them all. He wasn’t holding a major anymore. And his opponent for that match was the worst imaginable. Roger Federer. He’s my least favorite player. Always has been. He has 17 majors and was trying to win a record eigth at Wimbledon, so I had that stress on me as well. I don’t want him achieving any more.

So much relief.  We all felt it. (Matthew Stockman)

So much relief. We all felt it. (Matthew Stockman)

In the first set Novak had two set points (one on his own serve) in the tiebreak and didn’t win it. Novak won the second set fairly easily, only needing one break he got in the third game of the set. The third set went to a tiebreak and I looked away. Being down two sets to one would’ve been the match. He ended up taking the third set tiebreak and it was the least nervy moment of the match since I wasn’t watching. It was tough listening to the tiebreak, but somehow more calming. But that’s where the stress began. Fourth set. Novak got a break in the fourth game then gave it right back the following game. He broke again though and got it to 5-2. At 5-3 he served for the championship and got broken. The following game he had championship point and Roger saved it with an ace by challenging it. Novak lost 5 straight games to lose the set. I sat back in my chair most of the fifth and never moved a muscle, almost ready to watch my favorite player lose the most excruciating match imaginable. At 5-4 I perked up a little when Novak was given a look. I begged him to take it and he did. I never experienced any victory like that one. Hysterical sobbing.

10) Best Live Tennis Memory
Depends on what we’re talking about. If it’s a match then I will say this year at Cincy when Sabine beat Errani. It was a tough match and I was so nervous because I thought she should win since she beat Errani the previous week. It got to 5-5 in the 3rd set and Sabine got broken. She came out at 5-6 and blew right past Errani. Breaking her for a tiebreak then dominating the tiebreak with aggressive shots. I was soooooo happy I would see her another day.

Sabine after match point (Christopher Levy)

Sabine after match point (Christopher Levy)

There’s also little things I’ve loved about seeing tennis in person. The intimate moments. When I went to my first tournament in 2012, I didn’t realize how close you could get to the players and the court. A great memory I have was sitting in the second row (could’ve been in the front row but it didn’t matter, no one was there), watching Kerber play Babos. I left after the first set because I didn’t want to see Kerber lose (she eventually won), but it really opened my eyes to tennis even more. That day I became an even bigger fan of the sport. Court 3 in Cincy is my favorite court for that reason. It’s not a popular court that fills up with fans, so you can sit really close for most matches and really good players often play there, allowing you to see great players from the front row.

Kerber Baby warming up vs Babos (my photo)

Kerber Baby warming up vs Babos (my photo)

11) Favorite Major
Australian Open. The happy slam 😉 It makes me happy because Novak has so much success there, but that’s not the only reason I like it. It’s such a well constructed tournament. Really have no complaints with it, like we all have with the other ones. It hardly ever rains there. They have roofS and lights! I also kind of like getting up in the middle of the night to watch night sessions. It reminds me of when I first became a fan of the sport. It’s also the first big tournament of the year. The beginning of a long season. Everything about it is just great. I really can’t think of anything I don’t like about it.

12) Best Male to Never Win a Major
I haven’t been around tennis long enough to know players in the past that should’ve won one. With that in mind I think the current best player that hasn’t won one is Jo Wilfred Tsonga. He made one major final and has come close at many others over the years. He has beaten the top guys and has the game. He just hasn’t put it together at a major. We saw the run he made in Montreal this year winning the tournament beating Djokovic, Federer, and Murray. We know that form is there, but will it show itself on the biggest stage? Being in this era doesn’t help things, but he is a good player.

13) Best Female to Never Win a Major
See first sentence of the answer to #12. I’m going to say Dinara Safina. She was the number one player for 26 weeks and made three major finals, but didn’t win one. For that reason I’ll say she’s the best not to win a major. I would say Caroline Wozniacki(who has more weeks at #1), but I think the big difference is who they played in finals. Caroline played Serena and Clijsters. Not really winnable matches with her game. Safina got Serena in one final, but in the other two, she got a majorless Ivanovic and her last final was against Kuznetsova. She had a bigger opportunity than Caroline.

LAST QUESTION

14) First Thing on Your Tennis Bucket List
The first item on my bucket list tennis-wise was to see Novak Djokovic play. I had watched him for a few years and wanted to see him in person. Luckily it worked out in 2012.  I was able to go to the Western & Southern Open to see him.

I was so nervous beforehand that he’d pull out of the tournament since he played the previous two weeks, one in a different continent, and Sabine already withdrew. I checked every few hours each day to see if he withdrew. Luckily he didn’t withdraw and I was able to see him! The first time I saw him was at a practice. I waited at the court he was scheduled to practice at beforehand, but he switched courts last minute and there was a rush to get to it. He didn’t practice very long because he’d played so much tennis in Toronto and the Olympics. Afterward, he signed for fans and I got an autograph!!! I was shaking. I couldn’t believe I got his autograph and got so close to my idol. His first match was against Seppi and it went to a tiebreak in the first set. I was so nervous. I didn’t want to see him lose in person my first match. He won the first set then I was able to relax in the second set and enjoy the win! He hit balls into the stands after the match and the last one he hit I almost got. It landed like two rows behind me.

Got so close to Nole and got an autograph :') (my photos)

Got so close to Nole and got an autograph :’) (my photos)

The biggest thing on my bucket list now is to go to the US Open. I’d like to see the biggest stadium in sport, as Novak always describes it ;), and I’d also like to see what it’s like being at a major tournament. There are many great outside courts too. I’d like to see those in person as well. It’s tough though because it’s NYC. It requires a lot more planning than Cincy does.

What are your answers to these questions?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories! 😉

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