Monday, 12 January 2009

Stepanek vs Verdasco

Stepanek vs Verdasco, originally uploaded by jsteel.

Tennis is back in Brisbane! Probably 20 years after top-level tennis was last seen at Milton, Brisbane has a top-class tennis venue and tournament again, in the Queensland Tennis Centre and the Brisbane International.

I wanted to go to more of this tournament, but work and other commitments limited me to the men's singles and doubles finals yesterday, with Matt, Steve, Emm and Craig. The venue is great - the house was full and despite most of the crowd not being emotionally behind either player, the atmosphere was pretty good (a better test will be a Davis or Fed Cup tie).

The tennis was pretty good, too. Verdasco got an early break, but was a bit off his game, especially on his backhand. He held on to win the first set, but from late in the first set, Stepanek lifted and from that point it always felt that he had the running in the match. Stepanek is a strange player - flat groundstrokes, and lots of changeups - and probably well-matched against Verdasco, who didn't cope well with the varied pace and depth of Stepanek, whose dropshots to Verdasco's backhand were particularly successful. Our most fervent interest, though, was reserved for the celebration antics of both players, mainly in the third set. Stepanek worked hard to get the crowd into the match, and Verdasco had some sort of bull-fighter-cum-horseriding movement that he used over and over, often multiple times for one shot, and at one point he collapsed backwards pumping his fists ... on a 15-all point.

The doubles final was between Verdasco (again) and a german bloke named Mischa Zverev, and the french pair of Tsonga and Gicquel. Tsonga was clearly the most imposing player on the court, in terms of serves, groundstrokes and athleticism, but Zverev probably impressed me most in terms of doubles acumen. He was let down, though, by Verdasco, who was either exhausted from the 3-set singles final, or having a bad day, or both. The frenchmen won comfortably.

I'm looking forward to my next trip back the tennis centre being as a player, in obedience of Geoff Pollard's plea at the singles presentation to spend the next 12 months playing rather than just waiting.


Last year I set myself a new year's resolution of getting back into physical activity, and for the sake of measurement put 3 metrics down: 1000km of cycling, 12 games of tennis and 12 games of golf. As I've blogged before, I met those pretty comfortably; the final numbers were 2162km of cycling, 12 games of tennis, and 18 games of golf (the latter two numbers might be a little fuzzy). In addition, I played beach volleyball every week (probably 40-odd times, I guess), which gave me an opportunity to play a new sport and to dive around a bit once a week.

I was at a bit of a loss for resolutions this year. Having played two bad games of golf in the week before new year's eve, I set myself a goal of playing a game of bogey +18) golf, but I met that on January 2, so perhaps it was conservative. As my parents will insist, one of my concrete aims will be to get my driver's license, but to be quite frank, that isn't something I anticipate offering any great succour to my soul.

I have a bunch of things I want to do, but I'm loathe to put them down as resolutions, because I can't see myself getting all of them done, and a lot of them might be pie in the sky:
  • read more, including more in french. I reckon I read 8 books last year, mostly in the second half of the year, and that's down on what I'd like to be getting through. I've started a french novel (Le Lion, by Joseph Kessel), but its very slow going, and I'm having trouble finding time to devote to reading
  • write something. I've always thought, and some people have occasionally told me, that I have the facility of words to be able to write something decent, and I'd love to find something to write - perhaps a short story or something. All I need is a story to tell, and time to devote to writing it.
  • holiday more. I am grossly overdue for holidays, and I have a lot of vague plans: getting down to Canberra to see family, getting back to Europe to see friends (as they have scattered across a half dozen countries, this will require at least 3 weeks, I think), getting over to Vancouver to see Liz, cross-country skiing in New Zealand with Diana, snowboarding somewhere with Jez & Mick, a golfing holiday somewhere, perhaps the Murray river or Victoria somewhere.
  • get back into music somehow, either resuming trumpet or learning guitar
  • meet new people. My current peer groups are fantastic, but haven't changed much in quite a long time. It would be nice to broaden my horizons.
  • continue my physical activities. As much as I'd like to commit to trying one of the sports I'd like to play - football and cricket - I'm physically ill-suited to the former (with my history of breaking bones and my lack of bulk to protect them), and I don't know a way into the latter.
As you can see, these are all very vague, and I'm not sure to what extent they are realistic - it would be quite a miraculous year if I were to get to all of them - so I don't want to put them down as resolutions so much as aspirations.

I'll continue to jot down whatever I feel are significant achievements in my sidebar, including last year's criteria, and any emergent ones that I feel are significant.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

holiday break

I was due a break, and I enjoyed it.

I had a nice couple of days in Brisbane before heading up to Toowoomba (with Lee), getting some things done that had been overdue. In Toowoomba, I had a nice relaxing time, eating and drinking very well. We had a couple of nice day trips, one down to Mullum to see Granny and Andrew, and another down to Oumbabell to see Don, Marian and Daisy (who we hadn't seen for 17 years). Also, on Sunday we had a party for Mum's birthday with a lavish table set for 19 with innumerable dishes cooked by all 4 of us.

In between, I managed 72 holes of golf, with varying results. I played Keperra with Neil and shot a satisfying 91, the best I'd managed for quite a while. Then Dad and I played a couple of disappointing rounds at Borneo and City, where I shot 101 and 100 respectively. Then, having set myself a new year's resolution of playing a round at or below +18, I achieved it on January 2 by shooting 89 at Middle Ridge, which was very pleasing, and quite probably the best round I've played.

I also managed a little bit of driving practice. Renewing my learner's permit was one of the tasks I'd gotten around to in Brisbane before leaving, and I managed a handful of hours driving to and from golf courses, and 100km or so driving down from Toowoomba yesterday.