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Space for UM17’s updates from Miami.

Posted by tennisplanet on March 28, 2010

LATEST UPDATE

Since the first match isn’t until 1pm today, I finally got to sleep in! Excellent. It’s really gotten pretty quiet around the park, so I’ll probably be brief.

One story I’d like to share: since the start of the tournament, there’s been a set of brother-sister twins and their father floating around as hitting partners for the players. Nobody seems to remember how they got the job, but every time a player is looking for someone to practice with we offer them up as a suggestion. Over the last two weeks they’ve probably had 30 or so sessions, and since the review usually comes back positive they go out again and again! Most of the time, it’s the boy that gets the job (even with female players); yesterday he hit with Virginie Razzano, Mikhail Youzhny, and finally Robin Soderling. Incredible, considering they just turned 17 two days ago!! Funniest thing was his reaction at the end of the day – Razzano=no problem, Youzhny=no problem, Soderling…just could not keep up. Apparently that man hits balls like bullets. Anyway, with the practice these guys are getting, I’ll be looking for them on the pro tour aaaany minute.

I watched both the Youzhny and Soderling practices for a bit – night and day. Youzhny seems like one of the chillest guys around, and his practice was that way too. He would hit some balls, chat with the coach, hit a few more…smile every now and then. His coach is a really friendly little guy. :) Robin, on the other hand, was all business. He had two guys (his coach and the 17 year old kid) across the net, and would fire off 30 shot rallys with them each time. It seems like the ultimate practice – all the balls come back! (I think they said Clijsters does the same thing.) The player has to keep getting to them, and the reaction time is like in doubles – lightning fast. I don’t think I heard Robin say 2 words in 15 minutes out there.

Got to see the Armada play their doubles for a while. It was great! I’ll share some pictures if I can. I’m not usually a doubs fan cuz it’s just a bunch of treetops serving and sticking their arms out, but these four really played tennis out there. Tommy and Nico were on fire! Feli and FeVer were alright, but didn’t seem too much in control out there, would miss a bunch of easy net points. It’s great to see guys moving around in doubles, makes it exciting!

One last tidbit – Rafa practiced for an hour before his match (most guys do half an hour). And, he didn’t get his favorite court. Apparently he doesn’t like practicing on the stadium, but whenever he goes out to the side courts the mobs are insane. I think they kept him corralled yesterday for crowd control. The change in ritual didn’t seem to put him too far out of his rhythm!

Well, that’s about it. I’m going back in a bit cuz I wheedled my way into an excuse to show up to “work,” so I can have access to the matches. In a strange turn of events, I really want to see how Berdych does this afternoon… Peace out, my faithful readers!

Oh yeah, two other tidbits from the Berdych-Verdasco match, that maybe you guys saw on TV:
– First, Verdasco randomly took off one of two socks he was wearing on his right foot (the innermost layer). Did anybody know these guys wore two socks? Then, he had a broken shoelace to attend to…hm. Costume malfunctions?
– Rafa came to watch the match for like 15 minutes from the players lounge. People threw him more balls to sign while he was there.

UM17 THURSDAY UPDATE

Since the first match isn’t until 1pm today, I finally got to sleep in! Excellent. It’s really gotten pretty quiet around the park, so I’ll probably be brief.

One story I’d like to share: since the start of the tournament, there’s been a set of brother-sister twins and their father floating around as hitting partners for the players. Nobody seems to remember how they got the job, but every time a player is looking for someone to practice with we offer them up as a suggestion. Over the last two weeks they’ve probably had 30 or so sessions, and since the review usually comes back positive they go out again and again! Most of the time, it’s the boy that gets the job (even with female players); yesterday he hit with Virginie Razzano, Mikhail Youzhny, and finally Robin Soderling. Incredible, considering they just turned 17 two days ago!! Funniest thing was his reaction at the end of the day – Razzano=no problem, Youzhny=no problem, Soderling…just could not keep up. Apparently that man hits balls like bullets. Anyway, with the practice these guys are getting, I’ll be looking for them on the pro tour aaaany minute.

I watched both the Youzhny and Soderling practices for a bit – night and day. Youzhny seems like one of the chillest guys around, and his practice was that way too. He would hit some balls, chat with the coach, hit a few more…smile every now and then. His coach is a really friendly little guy. :) Robin, on the other hand, was all business. He had two guys (his coach and the 17 year old kid) across the net, and would fire off 30 shot rallys with them each time. It seems like the ultimate practice – all the balls come back! (I think they said Clijsters does the same thing.) The player has to keep getting to them, and the reaction time is like in doubles – lightning fast. I don’t think I heard Robin say 2 words in 15 minutes out there.

Got to see the Armada play their doubles for a while. It was great! I’ll share some pictures if I can. I’m not usually a doubs fan cuz it’s just a bunch of treetops serving and sticking their arms out, but these four really played tennis out there. Tommy and Nico were on fire! Feli and FeVer were alright, but didn’t seem too much in control out there, would miss a bunch of easy net points. It’s great to see guys moving around in doubles, makes it exciting!

One last tidbit – Rafa practiced for an hour before his match (most guys do half an hour). And, he didn’t get his favorite court. Apparently he doesn’t like practicing on the stadium, but whenever he goes out to the side courts the mobs are insane. I think they kept him corralled yesterday for crowd control. The change in ritual didn’t seem to put him too far out of his rhythm!

Well, that’s about it. I’m going back in a bit cuz I wheedled my way into an excuse to show up to “work,” so I can have access to the matches. In a strange turn of events, I really want to see how Berdych does this afternoon… Peace out, my faithful readers!

TODAY’S UM17 UPDATE

So I’m running late to what will most likely be my last day at the Open, but things are quieting down as it is anyway. Fewer players means less work for me, more time watching, but also possibly less to say. :) I had a wonderful day of tennis yesterday, evening upset notwithstanding…

I was in the front row for Gonzo-Sod – that was an odd match! Fena was really off, as we know, in that first set. Nothing he tried seemed to work, whereas Sod was on as usual. The stadium was mostly full of Gonzo supporters, but a few would yell silly things like “Vamos Argentina” or cheer for “David,” “Alejandro” or even “Rafa.” At some point they got a talking to. Gonzo’s first staredown with the ref was pretty great – he just stood there glaring for what we all thought would be forever – so I told him, “No te preocupes!” Don’t know if anyone heard me, and it probably didn’t help too much. :) Either way, some huge hitting there.

Watched Rafa vs. Ferrer from the players’ box. Those were monsters out there, just insane amounts of power! I felt David needed just a little bit more to take control, he worked so hard it was really too bad only one guys won. About 15 minutes after the match, his coach came by to book a practice court…I really hope he didn’t feel bad about the loss – it was so tight, I hope he can take it in stride.

– Overheard Youzhny/Andreev and his buddies (they always seem to have buddies around) jokingly trying to figure out the rules of golf. I’m not sure they all got it…
– Was in the lounge before Fed and Berdy went out for their matches. Never appreciated how HUGE they both are. I’m not that tall of a person, maybe, but I think TV really masks how giant these people are.
– Spent the nearly 3 hrs of the last match with one of Fed’s Nike reps. Really nice guy, and a Fed fan. Confirmed that Roger really is a great guy, and that all the nice things we hear him say in the media are exactly how he thinks.
– Saw Mirka again, and for everyone’s reference: She is not fat. She was wearing some very very skinny jeans, and let me just say, she is a curvy woman, but not much more.

Now I’m really late! Uhoh…

LATEST UM17 UPDATE

I am taking up so much space on TP! I hope y’all aren’t sick of me yet… If nothing else, these posts will help me remember every juicy minute here. I was afraid I’d have nothing to say tonight, because the rain this morning was horrendous. I left my house around 11:00 (sunny) and by the time I got to the tennis center (11:30ish) it was raining again. Practices had been scheduled since 9ish, nobody had been on court in the morning and wouldn’t be until nearly 3pm! They tried to dry the courts 3 or 4 times before giving up (I helped!) and waiting for the radar to say it was clear for good.

As soon as the new schedule was out it was a mess of players renegotiating their courts and not understanding that they’d be given warm-up times after the first set of matches was under way. Those who were on first had an extended on-court warmup (10 minutes) instead of the customary 1/2 hour or more with their team. So just subtract their first few games – I’m sure nobody was ready to play.

“Keeping up with the Kardashians” was filming in the players’ lounge this afternoon. Perhaps, if you ever see this episode, you’ll catch a glimpse of a bunch of people in blue tshirts and khakis with ultra-confused faces half-glaring at the crowd busting through the doorway. I’m one of those people. ;) Once the rain let up, there was so much great tennis going on at once that I missed a bunch of it. But, you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth: Fed, Wawrinka/Youzhny, Venus/Hantuchova, Radwanska/Shvedova, Gonzalez/Monaco, and finally in the wind and the cold (and in the 3rd row), Henin/Zvonareva. Pictures will follow at some point. Feds match was pretty “meh,” Wawri/Youzhny was intense except when Stan started running amok, Gonzalez/Monaco was well fought (and full of Chichichileans), and Henin/Zvonareva were actually quite awesome. I’ve never really appreciated women’s tennis before, but these girls hit HARD. And Henin’s backhand is a thing of beauty. Wowz.

Notables:
– Apparently Fed, Rafa (and probably others) have had just about enough of our fans down here. We know how gracious they usually are, but I guess folks in Miami barely let them walk.
– I went out for a second to watch Rafa practice. I’ve never seen anyone hit anything so hard. I feel sorry for those balls. He also didn’t stop scowling at his shots – I don’t know if he was really frustrated, or if that’s just his style.
– During the aforementioned practice, he popped a ball out of the court and people started grabbing at it. He asked for the ball back (“La bola, por favor!”) but I don’t think he got it back. You’d think it wouldn’t be a big deal, right? However: we ration the balls – only two new cans per practice. :) Hehe…
– The same time Verdasco was getting back from his match, the new schedule came out and the phones were off the hook. His crowd was so loud, we had to close the door. I’d just hung up on a call, when who bursts through the door, and asks me for a pen to sign a ball? Fernando himself. I handed it to him, personally.
– Ferru called again. The man speaks like a rain of bullets! I can barely say “Practice Courts!” before he’s asking to sign up for his warm-up before Rrrrafa Nadal.

Alright Teepsters, I’m exhausted. Pictures will follow at some point…good night!

It’s kind of embarrassing to have to scroll through so much of my blabber to get to the reply link…but I’m glad you guys seem to be enjoying it, so I’ll do one more. “After suitable rest,” I made it over to the stadium for the final day of men’s quarters and the women’s semis.

Venus was her usual self (those serves are nuts), Marion tried her best, but it really wasn’t enough. (Also, the Williamses have a bit of a bad reputation around here for traveling with a giant entourage.) Serena was around today, looking classy, but barely able to walk on her 6-inch chopstick heels. They did some photoshoot with her and what looked like giant football players trying to play tennis. Serena was on the sideline calling shots and giving pointers. I have a pic or two, which I’ll post if they don’t show up elsewhere.

I know you all will be annoyed with me, but I was quite happy with Mr. Berdman this afternoon. For someone reputed to be mentally fragile, I think he kept it together quite well. As his serve got better, and FeVer’s got worse, you could see the match turning around. Anyway, he’s been working hard for these wins, and I’m hoping he goes to the final. I stuck around for the Youzhny-Soderling match, and although I wasn’t terribly partial, I figured I’d go nationalistic – some of the random Russian shrieking from the nosebleeds was from me. :) I guess it didn’t help. Soderling dismantled poor Misha…

…which is really too bad for my 17 year hitting partner buddy. Youzhny had scheduled him to practice today, and turned down another kid offered to him by Federer’s agent! Too bad he probably won’t have another chance tomorrow.

I was trying to make my way out of the players center this afternoon, when the guy guarding the gate says to me, “Watch out, or you’ll get run over!” It was Rafa and his mob. I stood quietly by as he signed a last autograph or two and grudgingly posed for a picture. I’ve never seen him so exasperated…pobrecito. :( He turned around as quickly as he could, and beelined it to the door. Before this tournament, I may have been in that mob. Now that I’ve seen it from the inside, I think I’ll leave them alone. I love talented people as much as the next fangirl, but in the end I’d rather find some way to have a normal interaction.

For example: Lindsey Davenport has been around for the last few days doing something for TV, and has come by to chat and to book practice courts. She and Justin Gimelstob have just been hitting balls for fun – isn’t that nice? They wouldn’t have to lift a finger if they didn’t want to! She’s insaaaanely tall (compared to me) and incredibly friendly and down to earth. HEAR THAT TP? SHE’S A VERY NICE PERSON. And, she had funny stories to tell, including one about the time she and the Bryan brothers were in Beijing for the Olympics and had to find their way to the hotel without money, a cell phone, or a word of Chinese. Can you imagine what the three of them would have looked like, running around town?

Can’t think of anything else for the moment, but I’m grateful for my early night. I might just have to go back tomorrow to see Berdych-Soderling…that should be interesting.

Oh yeah, two other tidbits from the Berdych-Verdasco match, that maybe you guys saw on TV:
– First, Verdasco randomly took off one of two socks he was wearing on his right foot (the innermost layer). Did anybody know these guys wore two socks? Then, he had a broken shoelace to attend to…hm. Costume malfunctions?
– Rafa came to watch the match for like 15 minutes from the players lounge. People threw him more balls to sign while he was there.

NEW update from UM17

Wow, I’ve got quite a spotlight here! Glad you’re all enjoying the scoop…I had to go and check my paperwork to make sure I didn’t sign something that would get me in trouble for sharing. :) Oh, and, if you’re one of the people I’ve mentioned – and by some petrifying chance you’re reading this – sorry! You know where to find me.

Started my day off with a tour of the practice courts: Cilic and some guys I recognize but couldn’t name, Cibulkova, Azarenka, Kuznetsova. Headed over to Verdasco/Lopez v. Llodra/Ram – I guess the Armada won, but there were a few pretty silly net balls from FeVer for sure. Don’t know much about doubles, but it must be hard to switch to that kind of lightening rhythm! I didn’t realize Kim Kardashian was there, but after the match here is what I saw: a crowd of people around Verdasco, and a very large video camera. Now that I know who she is, here was part of their conversation – Fever: “So, what did you think?” Kim: “I loooved it! It was sooo exciting!” According to the body guards gossiping after they had all left, they’re hooking up now. Apparently this time last year, it was Wozniacki – did we know this? Another funny story: a girl walks up to my doorway, looking lost, and asks for a restroom. Assuming that she would have the same access I do, I used it as an excuse to take her up to the players’ lounge, but apparently she wasn’t allowed in there (I am, haha). On the way, I make conversation. “So have you seen anything you liked today?” “Um…yeaaaaah.” (Really? I see you’re a huge fan.) Google images makes me suspect that was Kourtney Kardashian.

Stan Wawrinka came by to watch our TV again – first set of Rafa v. Nalby. This time, I was bolder: “So, got any commentary for us?” He didn’t, but at least I got a smile. Also, when the screen showed Rafa taking about 48 seconds between points, Stan’s coach started to complain about it. Wawrinka says he wouldn’t mind the break, if he were playing. :) I understand now that the TV in the office is my greatest asset – later in the day, David Ferrer made it as far as the doorway, but turned around because my supervisor was switching over to the closed-circuit update screen. *Ack! So close!*

I used my break to go up to the stadium for Nadal/Nalbandian. I got there about halfway through the tiebreak, saw the second set, and was there again for the end of the 3rd. So yeah, wow. I think these guys move faster than I can think! TV just doesn’t do them justice. Miami is always packed with Latin Americans, so the tennis fans are a funny bunch. With Fed v. Lapentti, there was definitely more “Vamos, Nicolas!” than there were cheers for Roger; I’d say the Spanish/Argentina fans were about evenly split. Loved watching Ferrer and Karlovic on the side court – it’s pure insanity to be so close to the action! When I watch these guys on video, it seems like they’re putting on a show for the camera. But out there, especially in that gigantic stadium, they look so lonely and small. The evening matches (Jankovic vs. Vesnina, Tsonga vs. Kohlschreiber) weren’t full and were very quiet; I can’t imagine feeling all those silent stares on my back! Crazy stuff.

So that was my Sunday. The woman who takes care of the seeded players’ practice courts came by a bunch of times in the evening to negotiate, and it was a little disappointing to hear about some of our favorites being picky. Some players just won’t budge from their favorite courts, absolutely need a certain time even though they’re not playing that day, or are annoyed having to go through crowds on their way. It’s also fun listening to the background stories and politics in the tennis world from the people who’ve been in the industry for a while. Sorry, but if I write everything, I’d probably miss today’s action. :)

The weather Monday morning is terrible. We were spared yesterday, but it looks like rain at least where I am. Wish us luck! Pictures following in a separate comment.

Well it looks like the sun is out again – you never know in this town!! Here is my photographic evidence from Sunday! Until next time…

UM17

Miami update! It’s totally surreal, this brush with celebrity. The funniest thing is when I think about how many hours I’ve devoted to watching these people on video, analyzed what they’ve done, come on here and discussed, their personal lives, their careers…and there they are just walking around as if they were regular people. Sigh.

So I spent the day assigning practice courts and handing out balls to the players – sadly, the top seeds are handled by a special office, so I’m not likely to do business with any of them. I might have a chance to work a different position later, but probably not. We’ll see. Even so, my eyes were the size of dinner plates. From my desk, I have pretty much a straight shot of all of them as they go out to play on any of the courts (not stadium). I deal with their coaches a lot – Zeballos’s guy kept losing things and coming back to us. :) I started the day eavesdropping on Youzhny and his buddies, then FeVer stood outside the window chatting and posing for photos for about 1/2 an hour…who else? Caught a glimpse of Rafa, his partner and Bryans heading out for their match, oof, the list really goes on. Ivanovic, Kuznetsova, Simon (poor thing), Henin, De Bakker (love him!), tons of doubles people.

Spoke to Ferrer on the phone, was too scared to whip out the Spanish. What if I said something wrong?!? One player was very rude and demanding when I told him some courts were not available…not going to name any names, don’t worry, it’s nobody we love around here. Wawrinka stepped in for about 5 minutes to watch the Murray-Fish match on our screen…I racked my brains for something to say – fail. When some guy called him “Stan the Man” and informed me that Stan had just had a baby, all I could manage was “Oh, I know!” Sigh #2.

But here’s what really gave me a heart attack: so I go upstairs to the players’ lounge, and who is sitting there, bold as brass, with his team? Roger Federer – comfy red and black warmups, wet hair, clean shave, and all. I did the most awkward thing I possibly could have: I turned right around and nearly headed out of the room. Then, I took a deep breath, grabbed a chair about 15 feet away from his table, and tried not to stare. I can’t remember the last time I was that nervous. When I came back later, Fed had left but Mirka was there with Mary Jo Fernandez & her kids. Mirka’s gorgeous, by the way.

Watching the match live was wonderful, but we know how that is. Here are some pics to prove I was there! :)

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85 Responses to “Space for UM17’s updates from Miami.”

  1. Sir Vibhudi Aatmapudi said

    : )

  2. Nadal HAS to find a way to not get aced by everyfreaking player way over his average.

  3. Jenny said

    Hi UM17! You spoke to David on the phone?? More details?

  4. Claire said

    Did all of u know that UM17 was working for the tournament??? WOW. No I’m very shallow BUT is Mirka really heavy??

    • Chieko said

      Claire san, you are not shallow. I guess she could be after having children but she is gorgeous according to UM17 san, I believe she is.

  5. RafaFan said

    UM17 thanks for sharing your very exciting experiences! You are so lucky! Enjoy every minute of it! My wife came close to the Federers couple of weeks ago. She is not interested in sports and/or celebrities at all. 😉 In tennis she only knows two names: Federer and Nadal. LOL. Nevertheless she told me the same thing about Mirka as you do: Mirka is gorgeous and very polite. TP are you reading this? – And then she was quite excited that she attended TMF who sometimes seems to be more important to her husband than herself, esp. when he plays a tournament! LOL. Afortunadamente no había reproches. 😉

  6. bunnee said

    nicely reported UM17, thx for sharing! got to remind ourselves sometimes that these peeps are made of flesh n bones, like the rest of us!

    : )

  7. clifford said

    This is great! Please keep the reports coming. And do try to summon up the courage to tell Roger how much he and all the other players are admired here on Tennis Planet. I’m sure he wouldn’t bite!

  8. kitty said

    This is awesome!! Thanks for sharing and keep’m coming

  9. M said

    \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/

  10. O said

    UM17, wonderful experience, wonderful report. Keep it up, really enjoyed it!!

  11. Carolee said

    This is great to have a TPer at Miami! We will read your reports very happily. Don’t be afraid to talk to Roger, he’s great to all of his fans. Of course, I can say this, knowing that if I ever saw him in person, I would hide in a closet to avoid talking with him!

  12. Chieko said

    Domoarigatou gozaimasu ( thank you very much) UM17 san. I am sooo envious of you and yes as Carolee san said This is great to have a TPer at Miami!!

    May be you should tell Federer san about us TPers. May be invite him to come to our planet !!?? ( I am very hopeful really that he will one day and talk to TP sama)

    Have a good time!! Chieko

  13. Dee said

    Thanks UM17! WOW! Keep in touch!

  14. Stella said

    you lucky bu**er

  15. tennisfan said

    wow, I better be checking for your updates here, give all possible details we all want to be you right now:) (or at least in your shoes)

  16. Dee said

    What about girls? I saw Venus playing (on TV) Do you get to see them as well?

  17. ricky said

    great report, have fun! give our best to Roger and friends!

  18. Liz said

    Thanks for your report, I love reading stuff like this 🙂

  19. UM17 said

    Wow, I’ve got quite a spotlight here! Glad you’re all enjoying the scoop…I had to go and check my paperwork to make sure I didn’t sign something that would get me in trouble for sharing. 🙂 Oh, and, if you’re one of the people I’ve mentioned – and by some petrifying chance you’re reading this – sorry! You know where to find me.

    Started my day off with a tour of the practice courts: Cilic and some guys I recognize but couldn’t name, Cibulkova, Azarenka, Kuznetsova. Headed over to Verdasco/Lopez v. Llodra/Ram – I guess the Armada won, but there were a few pretty silly net balls from FeVer for sure. Don’t know much about doubles, but it must be hard to switch to that kind of lightening rhythm! I didn’t realize Kim Kardashian was there, but after the match here is what I saw: a crowd of people around Verdasco, and a very large video camera. Now that I know who she is, here was part of their conversation – Fever: “So, what did you think?” Kim: “I loooved it! It was sooo exciting!” According to the body guards gossiping after they had all left, they’re hooking up now. Apparently this time last year, it was Wozniacki – did we know this? Another funny story: a girl walks up to my doorway, looking lost, and asks for a restroom. Assuming that she would have the same access I do, I used it as an excuse to take her up to the players’ lounge, but apparently she wasn’t allowed in there (I am, haha). On the way, I make conversation. “So have you seen anything you liked today?” “Um…yeaaaaah.” (Really? I see you’re a huge fan.) Google images makes me suspect that was Kourtney Kardashian.

    Stan Wawrinka came by to watch our TV again – first set of Rafa v. Nalby. This time, I was bolder: “So, got any commentary for us?” He didn’t, but at least I got a smile. Also, when the screen showed Rafa taking about 48 seconds between points, Stan’s coach started to complain about it. Wawrinka says he wouldn’t mind the break, if he were playing. 🙂 I understand now that the TV in the office is my greatest asset – later in the day, David Ferrer made it as far as the doorway, but turned around because my supervisor was switching over to the closed-circuit update screen. *Ack! So close!*

    I used my break to go up to the stadium for Nadal/Nalbandian. I got there about halfway through the tiebreak, saw the second set, and was there again for the end of the 3rd. So yeah, wow. I think these guys move faster than I can think! TV just doesn’t do them justice. Miami is always packed with Latin Americans, so the tennis fans are a funny bunch. With Fed v. Lapentti, there was definitely more “Vamos, Nicolas!” than there were cheers for Roger; I’d say the Spanish/Argentina fans were about evenly split. Loved watching Ferrer and Karlovic on the side court – it’s pure insanity to be so close to the action! When I watch these guys on video, it seems like they’re putting on a show for the camera. But out there, especially in that gigantic stadium, they look so lonely and small. The evening matches (Jankovic vs. Vesnina, Tsonga vs. Kohlschreiber) weren’t full and were very quiet; I can’t imagine feeling all those silent stares on my back! Crazy stuff.

    So that was my Sunday. The woman who takes care of the seeded players’ practice courts came by a bunch of times in the evening to negotiate, and it was a little disappointing to hear about some of our favorites being picky. Some players just won’t budge from their favorite courts, absolutely need a certain time even though they’re not playing that day, or are annoyed having to go through crowds on their way. It’s also fun listening to the background stories and politics in the tennis world from the people who’ve been in the industry for a while. Sorry, but if I write everything, I’d probably miss today’s action. 🙂

    The weather Monday morning is terrible. We were spared yesterday, but it looks like rain at least where I am. Wish us luck! Pictures following in a separate comment.

    • Claire said

      Funny your talk about practice court stuff! I went to watch players practice at River Oaks tournament. One player and his coach stood on the court and I think really expected the lower rank player to get off the court so this well know player could practice! I was glad to see the other player didn’t back down, seemed like some interesting talk was going on between coaches! Eventually the high rank player and coach left, probably off to pout! Funny how this stuff goes on about practice courts!

    • M said

      It’s like having “our” own roving correspondent. I’d be terribly jealous if it wasn’t all so endlessly fascinating.

      Sounds like you’re having a wonderful time! Keep up those vitamins! 😀

  20. Jenny said

    Wow UM17! That is one fantastic comment from the shop floor! Far more interesting and fun than some of the professional stuff I read. Are you sure you’re not a media hack in disguise! As has been said before, give the players our very best wishes, without them the Planet wouldn’t exist. Keep the comments coming, a great read, thank you for taking time. You continue to enjoy your experience too, I’ll be up until the early hours watching Gonzo!

  21. DK said

    Totally sweet, UM17! It’s just like being back in high school with all those cool kids around, isn’t it?

  22. UM17 said

    Well it looks like the sun is out again – you never know in this town!! Here is my photographic evidence from Sunday! Until next time…

  23. kitty said

    UM17, you are making our day here! Wow enjoying your commentary, makes me feel like I am there. Just awesome!! Thank you sooo much for treating us with all this wonderful stuff!!

  24. Serran said

    Uauh UM17!! Awesome stuff here!

    I’m insanely jealous, I hope you’re having a fantastic time 😉

    Enjoy and keep posting!

    Cheers!

  25. bluechyll said

    Oh my! I would KILL to be in your position right now!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us UM17!! And keep up the good work :-)))

  26. Dee said

    Awesome! Go UM17!!!!!
    Love your commentary. Love the goss. Keep up the good work. wozniyaki used to date Vadasco? is that what you were saying? Oh well! Can’t wait for tomorrows update! Thanks a bunch

  27. Claire said

    UM17,
    Could you tell TP and us (me) how Mirka looks from the neck down – see TP’s post about Mirka – picture of Mirka next to Ann W.

    • M said

      Claire, you seem a little … hyperfocused … on this?

      What’s up?

      • Claire said

        I’ve gained 5-10 pounds and looking for comrades (and yes, I am a bit obsessed with weight) – I’ll stop asking and also stop putting the food in my mouth! 🙂

    • UM17 said

      Sorry, haven’t seen Mirka again – she wasn’t skinny, but that’s news to nobody. Still pretty in my book!

  28. Ricke said

    Thanks UM17 for the updates. I am insanely jealous. Wish I was there in sunny Miami. Funny stuff about the Kardashian girls. I am sure you found them lovely as well!

  29. UM17 said

    I am taking up so much space on TP! I hope y’all aren’t sick of me yet… If nothing else, these posts will help me remember every juicy minute here. I was afraid I’d have nothing to say tonight, because the rain this morning was horrendous. I left my house around 11:00 (sunny) and by the time I got to the tennis center (11:30ish) it was raining again. Practices had been scheduled since 9ish, nobody had been on court in the morning and wouldn’t be until nearly 3pm! They tried to dry the courts 3 or 4 times before giving up (I helped!) and waiting for the radar to say it was clear for good.

    As soon as the new schedule was out it was a mess of players renegotiating their courts and not understanding that they’d be given warm-up times after the first set of matches was under way. Those who were on first had an extended on-court warmup (10 minutes) instead of the customary 1/2 hour or more with their team. So just subtract their first few games – I’m sure nobody was ready to play.

    “Keeping up with the Kardashians” was filming in the players’ lounge this afternoon. Perhaps, if you ever see this episode, you’ll catch a glimpse of a bunch of people in blue tshirts and khakis with ultra-confused faces half-glaring at the crowd busting through the doorway. I’m one of those people. 😉 Once the rain let up, there was so much great tennis going on at once that I missed a bunch of it. But, you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth: Fed, Wawrinka/Youzhny, Venus/Hantuchova, Radwanska/Shvedova, Gonzalez/Monaco, and finally in the wind and the cold (and in the 3rd row), Henin/Zvonareva. Pictures will follow at some point. Feds match was pretty “meh,” Wawri/Youzhny was intense except when Stan started running amok, Gonzalez/Monaco was well fought (and full of Chichichileans), and Henin/Zvonareva were actually quite awesome. I’ve never really appreciated women’s tennis before, but these girls hit HARD. And Henin’s backhand is a thing of beauty. Wowz.

    Notables:
    – Apparently Fed, Rafa (and probably others) have had just about enough of our fans down here. We know how gracious they usually are, but I guess folks in Miami barely let them walk.
    – I went out for a second to watch Rafa practice. I’ve never seen anyone hit anything so hard. I feel sorry for those balls. He also didn’t stop scowling at his shots – I don’t know if he was really frustrated, or if that’s just his style.
    – During the aforementioned practice, he popped a ball out of the court and people started grabbing at it. He asked for the ball back (“La bola, por favor!”) but I don’t think he got it back. You’d think it wouldn’t be a big deal, right? However: we ration the balls – only two new cans per practice. 🙂 Hehe…
    – The same time Verdasco was getting back from his match, the new schedule came out and the phones were off the hook. His crowd was so loud, we had to close the door. I’d just hung up on a call, when who bursts through the door, and asks me for a pen to sign a ball? Fernando himself. I handed it to him, personally.
    – Ferru called again. The man speaks like a rain of bullets! I can barely say “Practice Courts!” before he’s asking to sign up for his warm-up before Rrrrafa Nadal.

    Alright Teepsters, I’m exhausted. Pictures will follow at some point…good night!

    • Rick said

      Guess everybody else is in bed, UM17 — great stuff, and it gives me the feeling that I’m reading something hot off the presses. Keep up the good work!

      I guess I can understand how having to wade through a sea of tennis balls being thrust in your face for you to sign every day — when all you really want to do is just get to a practice court so you can hit some instead — can make for a frustrating experience.

    • Chieko said

      Good day!! I just finished my classes. Thank you so very much for your update. I read every word with utmost interest. I really am so envious of your job. Thank you so much for writing us even when you are so tired. You are so considerate and TP sama should rate you as our special planeter for sure with a special medal and a special key to his basement !! neh!! Then you can write us special update on his basement and his goats for us also later !! Just kidding. Thank you from Chieko

    • tennisfan said

      Please, TP and UM17, post the above on the main page above the previous UM17 updates for all of us who are following UM17’s wonderful posts. UM, you’ve got yourself a career as a sports journalist!!!!!

    • tennisfan said

      TP, please, post the above on the main page!!!!

      UM17, please, send your updates to TP to post on the main page, many people will overlook an increased number of replies and will not know that UM17 has replied with another great post!!!

      Thank you for not making me keep requesting this a few hundred times more!

  30. tennisfan said

    TP, I guess this is your job, please, post UM17’s posts on the main page, thank you! I know it is getting annoying, but I missed a whole update for like more than 36 hours because I did not think to check the replies to UM17 posts, so there, I suffered through that, and now do not feel bad for nagging.

  31. UM17 said

    So I’m running late to what will most likely be my last day at the Open, but things are quieting down as it is anyway. Fewer players means less work for me, more time watching, but also possibly less to say. 🙂 I had a wonderful day of tennis yesterday, evening upset notwithstanding…

    I was in the front row for Gonzo-Sod – that was an odd match! Fena was really off, as we know, in that first set. Nothing he tried seemed to work, whereas Sod was on as usual. The stadium was mostly full of Gonzo supporters, but a few would yell silly things like “Vamos Argentina” or cheer for “David,” “Alejandro” or even “Rafa.” At some point they got a talking to. Gonzo’s first staredown with the ref was pretty great – he just stood there glaring for what we all thought would be forever – so I told him, “No te preocupes!” Don’t know if anyone heard me, and it probably didn’t help too much. 🙂 Either way, some huge hitting there.

    Watched Rafa vs. Ferrer from the players’ box. Those were monsters out there, just insane amounts of power! I felt David needed just a little bit more to take control, he worked so hard it was really too bad only one guys won. About 15 minutes after the match, his coach came by to book a practice court…I really hope he didn’t feel bad about the loss – it was so tight, I hope he can take it in stride.

    – Overheard Youzhny/Andreev and his buddies (they always seem to have buddies around) jokingly trying to figure out the rules of golf. I’m not sure they all got it…
    – Was in the lounge before Fed and Berdy went out for their matches. Never appreciated how HUGE they both are. I’m not that tall of a person, maybe, but I think TV really masks how giant these people are.
    – Spent the nearly 3 hrs of the last match with one of Fed’s Nike reps. Really nice guy, and a Fed fan. Confirmed that Roger really is a great guy, and that all the nice things we hear him say in the media are exactly how he thinks.
    – Saw Mirka again, and for everyone’s reference: She is not fat. She was wearing some very very skinny jeans, and let me just say, she is a curvy woman, but not much more.

    Now I’m really late! Uhoh…

  32. Dee said

    Oh ! Thanks UM17! Loved it! sad for Fed though. But you made my day.Enjoy and keep in touch!

  33. Jenny said

    Thank you so much, UM17, another great read.

    ‘ Gonzo’s first staredown with the ref was pretty great – he just stood there glaring for what we all thought would be forever ‘
    ——————————————
    I’ve never seen that before, stone cold silent stare, they showed a close up of his face, he doesn’t have dark eyes, but last night, I would have run for the hills, phew! I was praying he didn’t take it further, if you get my drift! Wasn’t the victim the line judge? The guy just stared ahead, or I think if he caught Fena’s icy, he might have turned into stone! True, it was a strange match, everything worked against him. I think these past weeks have caught up with him, he wasn’t match tough and the emotional stuff would hit him hard, he is a very proud, compassionate man. My heart bled for him. I had David’s match running at the same.
    ———————————–
    ” I felt David needed just a little bit more to take control, he worked so hard it was really too bad only one guys won. About 15 minutes after the match, his coach came by to book a practice court…I really hope he didn’t feel bad about the loss – it was so tight, I hope he can take it in stride.”

    Us David fans were upset for him, we die hards and the other players know he’s one helluva player, a brave feisty warrior, even though he has doubted himself. David is such an intense, committed perfectionist, I can imagine he would need to let it all out after that match. Many opportunities, too many errors, and it cost him the first set, imho. The positive, he’s defended his points. I saw that when he walked off, he quiety handed his racquet without a word to a kid in the stands, he’s done it before. He’ll rest and bounce back.

    Not surprised to hear about Roger’s niceness.

    Continue to have fun, and thank you again, UM17!

    • Jenny said

      – Saw Mirka again, and for everyone’s reference: She is not fat. She was wearing some very very skinny jeans, and let me just say, she is a curvy woman, but not much more.

      ——————————-
      I never ever thought Mirka was fat, she just isn’t skinny thin, cat-walk model type. As you say, a curvy woman, imo similar to Marilyn Monroe, who was never referred to as fat, and was never short of male suitors either!

    • M said

      “I saw that when he walked off, he quiety handed his racquet without a word to a kid in the stands,”
      *swoons like a fangirl*

      • Jenny said

        I notice these small, but not often reported or seen nice gestures from players to young fans, more so if they lose.

    • UM17 said

      Yep, he handed that racquet off, and I think the kid didn’t even know what happened, for a second. I’m surprised more players don’t do it, they get so much free stuff…

  34. M said

    UM17, thank you so much for these thrilling recaps! 😀

    I was hoping you’d get to see Rafa and David’s match. Players’ box – nice seats!

    “I felt David needed just a little bit more to take control, he worked so hard it was really too bad only one guys won”
    I hate that part.

    “Overheard Youzhny/Andreev and his buddies (they always seem to have buddies around) jokingly trying to figure out the rules of golf. I’m not sure they all got it…”
    I think we have to send you with a recording camera next time. It’s a sin for that not to be on film.

    Keep taking those vitamins!

    • Jenny said

      Seconded about the camera!

    • UM17 said

      Ha, yeah, that would be great…if you all understand Russian. 🙂 Also, I’d be shunned in an instant if I was caught recording or photographing people inside the haven of the players center. It’s where they go to get away from the groupies…I’m trying very hard not to be one. 🙂

  35. banti said

    15 feet from the Maestro inside a room, yeah that is cool:)

  36. UM17 said

    Since the first match isn’t until 1pm today, I finally got to sleep in! Excellent. It’s really gotten pretty quiet around the park, so I’ll probably be brief.

    One story I’d like to share: since the start of the tournament, there’s been a set of brother-sister twins and their father floating around as hitting partners for the players. Nobody seems to remember how they got the job, but every time a player is looking for someone to practice with we offer them up as a suggestion. Over the last two weeks they’ve probably had 30 or so sessions, and since the review usually comes back positive they go out again and again! Most of the time, it’s the boy that gets the job (even with female players); yesterday he hit with Virginie Razzano, Mikhail Youzhny, and finally Robin Soderling. Incredible, considering they just turned 17 two days ago!! Funniest thing was his reaction at the end of the day – Razzano=no problem, Youzhny=no problem, Soderling…just could not keep up. Apparently that man hits balls like bullets. Anyway, with the practice these guys are getting, I’ll be looking for them on the pro tour aaaany minute.

    I watched both the Youzhny and Soderling practices for a bit – night and day. Youzhny seems like one of the chillest guys around, and his practice was that way too. He would hit some balls, chat with the coach, hit a few more…smile every now and then. His coach is a really friendly little guy. 🙂 Robin, on the other hand, was all business. He had two guys (his coach and the 17 year old kid) across the net, and would fire off 30 shot rallys with them each time. It seems like the ultimate practice – all the balls come back! (I think they said Clijsters does the same thing.) The player has to keep getting to them, and the reaction time is like in doubles – lightning fast. I don’t think I heard Robin say 2 words in 15 minutes out there.

    Got to see the Armada play their doubles for a while. It was great! I’ll share some pictures if I can. I’m not usually a doubs fan cuz it’s just a bunch of treetops serving and sticking their arms out, but these four really played tennis out there. Tommy and Nico were on fire! Feli and FeVer were alright, but didn’t seem too much in control out there, would miss a bunch of easy net points. It’s great to see guys moving around in doubles, makes it exciting!

    One last tidbit – Rafa practiced for an hour before his match (most guys do half an hour). And, he didn’t get his favorite court. Apparently he doesn’t like practicing on the stadium, but whenever he goes out to the side courts the mobs are insane. I think they kept him corralled yesterday for crowd control. The change in ritual didn’t seem to put him too far out of his rhythm!

    Well, that’s about it. I’m going back in a bit cuz I wheedled my way into an excuse to show up to “work,” so I can have access to the matches. In a strange turn of events, I really want to see how Berdych does this afternoon… Peace out, my faithful readers!

  37. Jenny said

    Thanks again, UM17. Will you be signing up for more?!

    • UM17 said

      Mm…in all honesty I may have had just about enough of the tournament, and they of me. 🙂 I just have a few days of my week off left, I may want to do a few other things before I’m back at school!

  38. tennisfan said

    Thanks, UM17, been looking forward to your posts, thought Fed’s loss put you out of your rhythm a little bit… anyway, glad to have you back, with many first-hand details about the players.

    TP, you know what to do!:):):)

    • UM17 said

      Hey Tennisfan…nice to hear from you. 😛 Yeah that was a late, disappointing night. But I’ve reconciled it in this way: Berdych was awesome. I never thought I’d hear myself think this…

      • tennisfan said

        I dont think I have ever enjoyed a tennis tournament so much and have seen so little of it! Thanks to your posts, I really feel I have been there, and only need to keep up with highlights and scores from time to time. Such interesting posts, it is a new career path for you!

        We should establish a UM17 fund and send you to the next master’s series to report:)

  39. Gracie said

    UM17…Sounds like you’ve had an terrific week in Miami. I just wanted to say thanks so much for the daily posts. I’ve really enjoyed them. Glad we have this perfect forum for getting an inside look from folks like you. Good on ya for taking the time to sit down and give us the daily dish.

  40. Dee said

    Thanks UM17!You are a star!So thankful for your updates! loving it!

  41. UM17 said

    It’s kind of embarrassing to have to scroll through so much of my blabber to get to the reply link…but I’m glad you guys seem to be enjoying it, so I’ll do one more. “After suitable rest,” I made it over to the stadium for the final day of men’s quarters and the women’s semis.

    Venus was her usual self (those serves are nuts), Marion tried her best, but it really wasn’t enough. (Also, the Williamses have a bit of a bad reputation around here for traveling with a giant entourage.) Serena was around today, looking classy, but barely able to walk on her 6-inch chopstick heels. They did some photoshoot with her and what looked like giant football players trying to play tennis. Serena was on the sideline calling shots and giving pointers. I have a pic or two, which I’ll post if they don’t show up elsewhere.

    I know you all will be annoyed with me, but I was quite happy with Mr. Berdman this afternoon. For someone reputed to be mentally fragile, I think he kept it together quite well. As his serve got better, and FeVer’s got worse, you could see the match turning around. Anyway, he’s been working hard for these wins, and I’m hoping he goes to the final. I stuck around for the Youzhny-Soderling match, and although I wasn’t terribly partial, I figured I’d go nationalistic – some of the random Russian shrieking from the nosebleeds was from me. 🙂 I guess it didn’t help. Soderling dismantled poor Misha…

    …which is really too bad for my 17 year hitting partner buddy. Youzhny had scheduled him to practice today, and turned down another kid offered to him by Federer’s agent! Too bad he probably won’t have another chance tomorrow.

    I was trying to make my way out of the players center this afternoon, when the guy guarding the gate says to me, “Watch out, or you’ll get run over!” It was Rafa and his mob. I stood quietly by as he signed a last autograph or two and grudgingly posed for a picture. I’ve never seen him so exasperated…pobrecito. 😦 He turned around as quickly as he could, and beelined it to the door. Before this tournament, I may have been in that mob. Now that I’ve seen it from the inside, I think I’ll leave them alone. I love talented people as much as the next fangirl, but in the end I’d rather find some way to have a normal interaction.

    For example: Lindsey Davenport has been around for the last few days doing something for TV, and has come by to chat and to book practice courts. She and Justin Gimelstob have just been hitting balls for fun – isn’t that nice? They wouldn’t have to lift a finger if they didn’t want to! She’s insaaaanely tall (compared to me) and incredibly friendly and down to earth. HEAR THAT TP? SHE’S A VERY NICE PERSON. And, she had funny stories to tell, including one about the time she and the Bryan brothers were in Beijing for the Olympics and had to find their way to the hotel without money, a cell phone, or a word of Chinese. Can you imagine what the three of them would have looked like, running around town?

    Can’t think of anything else for the moment, but I’m grateful for my early night. I might just have to go back tomorrow to see Berdych-Soderling…that should be interesting.

    • UM17 said

      Oh yeah, two other tidbits from the Berdych-Verdasco match, that maybe you guys saw on TV:
      – First, Verdasco randomly took off one of two socks he was wearing on his right foot (the innermost layer). Did anybody know these guys wore two socks? Then, he had a broken shoelace to attend to…hm. Costume malfunctions?
      – Rafa came to watch the match for like 15 minutes from the players lounge. People threw him more balls to sign while he was there.

      • M said

        UM17 – I did know generally that 2 pair of socks are worn; helps to cut down on the moisture and the blisters — but did they literally *throw* balls at Rafa, or was there (just – haha) another mob of people begging him to sign?

      • UM17 said

        Haha they didn’t throw the balls *at* him, more like *to* him and he’d throw them back. There’s a little balcony with a couple rows of seats outside the actual lounge where players and their besties can sit. It’s separated from the other seats by railings so he wasn’t exactly accessible for mobbing. Don’t you think it’s silly, when there were two other perfectly good players on the court they should have been paying attention too?

      • M said

        LOL. Rafa’s a rock star. He was mobbed here in 08 when he was at the Mac store.

        But I’ve seen people screaming, literally screaming, over Fer and Feli, and James, too, when they were going into an event. And for the ladies too.

        But yeah, I feel a little bad for the boys on court — I’m not sure that should’ve been happening *during* their match. OTOH, I guess the point is if you’re a professional, your concentration is supposed to be such that you can block out anything.

    • Dee said

      Thanks UM17! I like Lindsay too. I saw her at my first AO playing doubles in a show court. I remeber thinking of her height too.Just watching Thomas/berdych highlights.Thanks for the up date. I have more questions Plaease!
      Do people comment about players out fits?
      What do they eat while hanging there?
      Two socks hah? felt like keeping one as a memo? hehe!
      Did they smell?
      Do they do drug tests before and after play ?

      • UM17 said

        – Well, the staff comments on outfits a bunch. When I was talking to the Nike guy, I asked him what he thought of Venus’s yellow/brown AO disaster. He was diplomatic, saying that he thought she got the attention she was going for… But I don’t think he was a huge fan of it.
        – What do they eat? Whatever they want. 🙂 They have a salad bar, pasta, a few very standard entrees usually, fish I think.
        – I wasn’t on the court when Fernando changed his socks! If I were the ballkid who had to fetch the discarded sock, maybe I would know about the smell, haha.
        – As far as I know drug tests are done randomly. They have to report their whereabouts at various times, and then the officials choose one.

      • Dee said

        Thanks UM17.

    • Dee said

      Hi UM17,Just click on end button on your laptop. It will get you to end of the page.No need to scrawl.We want you not to get dizzy,safe and quick.Purely for your sake.

  42. Dee said

    Hi UM17!!!! I really miss your update.

    • M said

      I know, right, Dee? Get that woman a plane ticket to Monte Carlo. 😀

      • UM17 said

        Hey, I’m all for it! Today was my first non-tennis day in a week, and I feel like I missed something, somewhere. I don’t have much to say about Friday night except what we already know – move over, the Berdman cometh. 🙂 I could have hugged that boy, after how he’s been playing.

  43. chipnputt said

    Hi UM17… checked this site after a long time and saw your updates from Miami. They’re awesome — thanks very much for doing this.

  44. chipnputt said

    Was just listening to a podcast on tennis.com and it turns out that Kim Kardashian, while friends with Sam Querrey and John Isner, has not heard of Roger Federer. And this woman is attending a tennis tournament? Words fail me.

    • M said

      She *met* him. She met him when he was playing against Serra.
      *headdesk*

      Don’t get me started. I remember the picture of her shaking President Obama’s hand, with her horrible silver manicure. Déclassé doesn’t begin to describe it.
      *shudders*

  45. Dee said

    Thank you Thank you Thank you for thinking of us and posting all this info.really appreciated all your updates. Take care

  46. Steph said

    Hey UM17…2 thumbs up! Hope you enjoyed your spring break. Cheers!

  47. RafaFan said

    Thanks again UM17. Your report was very addicting! Visited your flickr site as well! 🙂

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