The Australian Open is underway. I've always loved watching summertime tennis on cold winter nights, and wrote this blog post below on January 24, 2009.
It was a gray 6 degrees Fahrenheit (-14 celsius) one morning where I live in Philadelphia last week, a layer of ice coating the sidewalks outside my home, but I was warmed watching summertime tennis from Melbourne where players hide in the shade during changeovers and long points.
I love the Australian Open's new year reminder that this weather and this winter won't last forever, that the short January days are lengthening a little with each passing, and that summer is out there somewhere in the future, that long days on outdoor tennis courts are on the horizon. Baseball has the renewal of each season with spring training, when the breezes are warm in Florida and the grass begins to grow again, but I'll put the joy of starting the new tennis season in the middle of summer down under up against it anytime.
The only problem with the Aussie Open is the sleep deprivation it requires. I've missed a lot of live matches the first week because I had to go to bed at a reasonable hour, but I was happy to wake up about 7 a.m. and flip on the TV and catch the end of the late night matches that stretch past midnight down under, 14 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Just this morning I caught the end of the Fernando Gonzalez-Richard Gasquet five-setter, two brilliant groundstrokers crushing the ball at each other, four hours into the match, tied at 10-all in the fifth set. It was an exciting wake-up call as both went for big shots right to the end, Gonzalez winning 12-10 in the fifth, after losing the first two sets.
This week though, I'm sure they'll be some great night matches in Melbourne, which means a 3:30 a.m. start where I am, and that I'll wake up during the night and wonder about the score and go down and start watching a match. The pull of a Grand Slam match is hard to resist. At the very least, this week I'll be setting my alarm for 5 a.m. or so, in time for a very early breakfast and the world's best tennis.
I'll catch up on my sleep in February.