By Hanya El Ghetany
Day 4 of the Cinch Championships and Day 2 of my experience there was as exciting as the first. We had a few nice surprise appearances on the practice courts, some reappearances, and a few cameos from the first day. Here’s what happened.
There were four matches on Centre Court today. I was excited to watch Berrettini play for the first time. There was also an early clash between Stan “The Man” Wawrinka and Tommy Paul. Court 1 had an interesting doubles match between Paul/Fritz and Norrie/De Minaur.
I arrived a few minutes late today because, as usual, the Piccadilly line was delayed (ughh). I had to take off for the tournament one station early because of some sort of technical issue and walk for 15 minutes to the site, which caused the delay.
I wanted to catch Stan Wawrinka’s practice before the match. I was talking to my friend about how awesome it would be to take a picture with him. As we walked into the practice ground, we saw a few ball girls chasing a player for autographs. Of course, it was Wawrinka. I literally was walking a few steps behind him and even when I speed-walked to catch him, I couldn’t make it. We went back to the practice court, and as I walked, I bumped into Tommy Paul for the THIRD TIME. This time around, I asked him for a picture, and it finally happened. I think I’ve seen Tommy Paul this week more than any other player. I honestly deserved that picture. It was nice of him to stop for a picture when he had a match to play in a few minutes. (Against Wawrinka, of course.)
We decided to go check the rest of the courts before the match. To everyone’s surprise, two players who were already out of the tournament were practising on court: Diego Schwartzman and Lorenzo Sonego. My friend and I decided that watching these two practice together was more interesting than watching Paul-Wawrinka. There were a few people watching the practice session because no one expected them to be there. I was standing really close to them, behind the benches. I stayed for a full three hours watching them practise because every time I thought of leaving, my friend told me “we made it this far, we’re getting that picture”. Every time they came close to /us to drink water and rest, I would look at them and get my phone ready, but every time they quickly went back to practice. Eventually, Sonego’s coach noticed we really wanted to meet them. He smiled at us a couple of times, then when people started to leave to go to the first match, he took out a new tennis ball and threw it to me. It was very cool of him. When they finished practice, Lorenzo’s coach looked at me and said, “do you want selfies?” I said yes, he called Lorenzo and he came to take pictures with us. After he left, Diego was still there, I called him for a picture, he came and took a picture then signed the ball. It was so nice of them to do that, especially considering they had been spending all that time training in hot sunny London. I really want to stress how considerate Sonego’s coach was – I don’t think Lorenzo himself would have noticed us if it wasn’t for his coach.
Remember Usher 1 from the Day 1 story? Well, as we left, we ran into him. He naturally remembered us and asked if we took any pictures/signatures. We gave him the whole story. He was very proud of us.
We went into Centre Court and found ourselves sitting in a group of really cool Americans. I don’t think I’ve ever met so many Americans as I did today (which made sense considering the number of Americans who were playing at the tournament). Tommy Paul was already winning the first set by the time we went in. We stayed for the rest of that match, which Paul dominated throughout. The following match pitted Matteo Berrettini against Denis Kudla. As someone who hates tiebreaks, I had to watch many of them this week. (The worst one was Dimitrov losing the first set to Norrie. Thankfully, he went on to win the match.) Today, Berrettini lost the first set to Kudla. For most of the match, it looked like Kudla was going to win. Berrettini took a medical time out after the first set which was a bit worrying, but showed his mettle in the second set, which went to a dreaded tiebreak. These were the most stressful minutes of my day. Berrettini thankfully won, but made some classic errors at the most crucial of times. He also pulled some classic Berrettini-on-grass “what the fuck” moments. The cool thing was almost everyone in the stadium was supporting the defending champion. “Let’s go Matteo” echoed through the court, especially during that last set. It looked like it was going into a match tie-break, but Berrettini won 3-6, 7-6, 6-4. During that match, the doubles between Paul/Fritz and Norrie/De Minaur was on Court 1. I was talking to my friend about it and one of the American guys overheard and asked about the score and asked me to keep him updated, which I did on every set and match point. To his delight, the Americans won. We agreed that he couldn’t have all the wins, so he accepted the Berrettini-Kudla result.
It was very sunny and very humid, which tired everyone out. Many fans left after Berrettini’s win. Even Berrettini could barely catch his breath during the interview. He mentioned Kudla and acknowledged that he had been the better player.
I didn’t stay for the last matches; the sun was too much for me. I was, however, very satisfied with the outcome. I took pictures with Schwartzman, Sonego, Tommy Paul, met Wawrinka and watched Berrettini live. It was a good day.
Talk to you after the finals!