20 April, 2010 | 14:04
This is the next (long overdue) installment of what has been going on in my world for the past few weeks.
A lot has happened in the past month. I have been playing in Jersey, St. Brieuc, Johannesburg and now Athens with a weekend in Bath sandwiched in.
Firstly I would like to congratulate my friends Rob and Elly on giving birth to their baby girl, Bee. I wish you guys a lifetime of happiness together.
Jersey was a good week for us. We reached the final, losing in a match tie break, but played some good tennis throughout the week and there were lots of positives to take. My mum came to watch which was nice as she doesn’t get to see me play much anymore and we spent the week staying at her friends house that was right on the beach. It made the week a lot more relaxed and was a nice change from the hotel experience! Alej flew over for the weekend to watch the final and do some sightseeing but neither turned out too well! We lost the match and on Sunday the weather was rubbish but we had a good time regardless and I was glad she could come.
Jonny and I took the ferry from Jersey to St. Malo on Monday morning and then rented a car and drove a couple hours to St. Brieuc. Its not actually that far but the hotel proved a hassle to find! St. Brieuc is a pretty average tournament but it was made much easier by having the rental car so we could get around ourselves and do our own thing. The tournament was on indoor clay, the only challenger of the year that’s played under those conditions. Conditions were fast but pretty slippy underfoot. We should really have done better than quarterfinals and it was a disappointing end to the trip. I flew home the next day from Dinard Airport, possibly the smallest airport I had ever been at, and definitely the smallest plane I had ever flown in! The plane seated 12 people but only 6 were on the 30minute flight to Guernsey. I then flew Guernsey to Gatwick and took the train back to Wimbledon.
We got into the ATP event in Casablanca on the Friday night but decided against going as we had spunked a lot of money on our flights to Joburg and weren’t really prepared to give that up. We also didn’t have much time to prepare for the tournament on outdoor clay and flights were looking very expensive so we decided to give it a miss and get ready for Jo'burg.
I spent the weekend in Bath with Alej to celebrate our anniversary together. We stayed in a great hotel and spent the days as tourists. It was very relaxing to be out of London and away from all the hussle and bussle and we had a great time. Bath is a beautiful city and I would recommend anyone to go and visit.
We came back on Monday and I spent the next few days training at Roehampton with Jonny ahead of our trip to South Africa.
We flew out on the Thursday night in order to give us time to adjust to the altitude and get over the long flight. Jo'burg is probably not my favourite city in the world. We stayed in a nice hotel with a great mall very close by but the police escorts that ferried us to and from the courts put me off the city. The drivers drove so recklessly and every ride was a “white knuckle” ride. It didn’t make me feel comfortable at all and I don’t know if they were doing it for good reason or they just wanted to see how fast they could get to the club! The club was in Soweto which I was told wasn’t the nicest of areas to be polite but I didn’t get such a bad feeling. It was just so far away from the hotel so it was an all day affair.
We did well to get thru our first match against Lu and De Voest coming back from a difficult first set to win in a match tie break. I was very relieved to get thru as we had spent a lot of money on flights and South Africa is a long way to come for just one hour of tennis!
Little did I know, but that was the end of our good times in South Africa. We lost our next match rather disappointingly and, with a few contentious umpiring decisions along the way, it left me feeling pretty deflated. Having waited around all day to play the match, I then couldn’t make the evening flight in time and could only be booked on the 2300 the following day. The following morning we got up and went to a Lion Park. It was great to see some of the lions so close up and play with the cubs and feed the giraffes but the excitement was pretty marginal because the lions rest for up to 18hrs a day and so were sleeping in the shade for the most part. I got some great pictures and had a good time but I would definitely want to go back and go on safari and get the full South African experience.
Upon finishing the tour of the park, the really bad news struck – all flights in UK cancelled because of the Volcanic eruption in Iceland. What are the chances?! We went back to the hotel asap to find out the news and it was a total disaster from there until right this moment as I am writing this!
We eventually decided on Friday morning to book a new ticket and fly thru dubai in order to get to Athens otherwise it was looking like we would never be leaving South Africa. The luckiest thing for us was that the tournament was in Athens otherwise we would still be stuck in Johannesburg as Dubai was refusing to let anybody fly their that had onwards connections to closed European airports. Not to mention the fact that Athens was only one of about 4 airports in Europe that was still open!
We eventually arrived in Athens on Saturday afternoon keen to find out who was actually turning up this week. It is Monday afternoon here and so far only 13 main draw singles players have arrived. Who knows what’s going to happen. We are scheduled to play Mahut and Zovko in the first round but there is talk of the draw being redone depending on who shows up so all I can say is “huge nose”.
We are playing at the Olympic venue where Nico Massu won singles and doubles Gold medal in 2004. The other stadiums are next to the tennis venue but for some reason you can’t access them. It seems silly to me that they are playing matches on the huge stadium court as it is unlikely that many people will come to watch during the week. Maybe the organisers know something I don’t!
It’s definitely a good week to win a lot of matches as it’s unlikely I will be able to leave the country anytime soon!