ATP World Tour Finals Day 1: Doubles, Federer v Raonic and plenty of photos!

The World Tour Finals are in town and being just one hour away from London, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity of live tennis! Here’s my recap of the action from Monday evening including some of my photos.  I didn’t take my big lens so the pictures aren’t great.  I’ve posted the whole album and a couple of videos on my Facebook page HERE.

Doubles Match: Dodig / Melo d. Nestor / Zimonjic, 6-3 7-5

I don’t get to watch as much doubles action as I would like so it is always a pleasure to watch some at the O2.  There was a reasonable crowd in as well, at least half to two-thirds full.  The first set was a little scrappy, but the second set featured some really fun rallies.  Ivan Dodig was the best player on the court, hitting some cracking returns off the Nestor serve.  To be honest, this was a really rough day for Daniel Nestor.  Twice, he double faulted down break point, the second time at deuce and 5-5 in the second set, which was essentially game over.  Zimonjic hit one of the greatest shanks that i’ve ever seen live, framing an overhead that was heading for the exit.

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We had really good seats in the lower bowl.  We were also in the general location of this crazy camera, which was hurtling around during the changeover.  In fact on one changeover during the doubles match, the camera came right in front of us and the person sat next to me was on the big screen! Thank goodness my face wasn’t transmitted on the big screen, that wouldn’t have been pretty…

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Singles Match: Federer d. Raonic, 6-1 7-6(0)

Remembering the round robin match between Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro at the O2 last year, I knew it was going to be a heavily pro-Federer crowd.  My brother went to that particular match and said the support for Del Potro was non-existent and he was one of the very few people cheering for him.  Even I was shocked by how excited the O2 crowd was to see Roger Federer.  Just when his name was mentioned over the tannoy or his name popped up on the scoreboard, the crowd went ballistic.

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Raonic got a good reception, buit it obviously didn’t come close to that for Federer.  I actually got goosebumps when he made his entrance to a rapturous ovation.  I do understand the support, but I didn’t like it when the crowd celebrated Federer breaking serve in the first set, both times on Raonic errors.  There was a lot to celebrate for the crowd in the first set as Federer stormed through the first set in less than half an hour, 6-1.  Raonic made a decent start, thumping a return past Federer on the second point, but the encouraging start from the Canadian quickly faded as Federer, majestic on serve, was never troubled.  Raonic consistently ran around his backhand to hit forehands leaving an empty space for Federer to hit into.  Raonic didn’t move well in the first set and was also hitting too many errors on the forehand side.

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Raonic played much better in the second set and got involved in some lengthy deuce games, which allowed him to settle and find his range on the forehand, which became a real weapon.  Federer’s serve wasn’t as potent and Raonic started to get more returns into play.  Raonic had opportunities in three of Federer’s service games, but was unable to take one of four break points, one being a set point.  Raonic was the better player in the second set, but then it came to the tiebreak.  Oh…

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At one stage it didn’t look like it would last past an hour so i’m glad we at least got a competitive second set.  A third set would have been fun, but we were already looking at the clock and planning our escape for our train home!  Thankfully, i’d got tickets in a good place for a perfect getaway.  We still had to run, run, RUN through London to get the train home.  Escalators not working at Waterloo didn’t help our plight or my heart (I am so unfit!), but we made the train.

Thoughts about the WTFs and the O2

It’s always nice to see some live tennis in November, but to be honest, this is my least favourite tennis event to attend.  The prices continue to be ridiculous, but I cave everytime and buy some.  I found the fan zone area to be really, really busy this year.  There are two practice courts inside a bubble with two stands of seats.  I tried getting in, but was told by security that they were not letting people in because there was too many people.  One side of the court was open to view, but it was about five deep with people on tiptoes, aimlessly holding cameras in the air trying to get a shot.  And this was through netting as well.  I got one picture of Ferrer after patiently getting close to the front, but whenever a spot opened up, I was never quick or ruthless enough to barge in! Eventually I gave up and decided to eat some Hula Hoops instead…

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There were people everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.  It made me realise how much I love attending an event like Eastbourne where you have no problems getting a seat for a match and also, watching players practice is easy and STRESS-FREE.  I’m so lucky that the O2 is just an hour away on the train so i’ll probably still go again next year despite my issues.  However next year, i’d definitely go for a day session.  It’s much less stressful not meticulously planning the exit route at the end.

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I hope you enjoyed my recap and photos from the World Tour Finals.  That’s it for my tennis travels in 2014, but i’m already planning for 2015.  I’ll definitely be in Eastbourne next year and Wimbledon if I can get tickets, but my big plan next year is to try and make it to Roland Garros… watch this space!

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