For the first set, I played very very perfect (Heineken Open, Auckland)

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By: sachilefever on January 12, 2006 - 5:41pm

Our Auckland hotel was near the Parnell District which we heard was a nice place to meet friends for a martini and for higher priced shopping. Our hotel, though just fine for us, was not on this level – it was near Parnell, not in Parnell. We happened upon a Tennis Centre just three blocks away with banners announcing the Heineken Open tennis tourney. Soon after, we saw it on TV. How cool!

I have watched many many hours of tennis on TV, but not one professional match in person. It was Massu, a Chilean player with a particular loud and fanatical group following him, vs. Hrbaty a Slovakian player that had beaten Massu twice before. The way the French umpire’s accent rolled these names, Hrbaty’s name sounded like “Halibut”.

Of course we had no idea who was playing when we were waiting in line, hoping for more people to leave, so that we could buy evening tickets. “We only have Lufthansa stand now” – which were the cheapest tickets, but we had individual seats over the center of the main court. Looking across the way, we saw many of the more expensive seats were concrete stadium benches.

So, the evening match began with just a few drizzle drops. One point – Massu. One point  - Hrbaty. Then the umpire called a delay. Not even one game or set yet. The only time we’ve seen a dark cloud here happens at my first pro tennis match. Luckily it cleared in 30 minutes. The match went on.

We could hear champagne glasses and dinner plates clinking from the court level boxes throughout the match. Elderly gentlemen were texting on their cell phones next to their wives with large colorful hats.

Lee rooted for Massu, along with the overwhelming cheers of the Chilean fan group who yelled at every point “Chi-chi-chi! Le-le-le! We want Chile! Yay!” The ump wasn’t too pleased, but they would become silent the moment each serve began, so the ump couldn’t scold them. He did, however, scold a man walking up the beacher stairs in the other stand. “Sit down please, for the serve.” Again, with a heavy French accent.

In the end Massu, formerly ranked #9 in the world,  won 6-2, 6-4. He revealed his assessment in an interview after the game. “What did you think of the first set?” asked the emcee. Massu got a serious look on his face and with broken English explained, “For the first set, I played very very perfect.”

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