By Sandra Harwitt in Santiago
The Davis Cup first round tie between the U.S. and Chile is a family affair for Andy Roddick.
Roddick’s wife, actress/model Brooklyn Decker, is in attendance. Decker’s been busy of late with responsibilities related to her new movie that just came out a few weeks ago – Just Go With It – starring Jennifer Aniston, Adam Sandler and Decker. She arrived in Santiago straight from Los Angeles where she attended Oscar parties last Sunday.
Roddick’s parents, Jerry and Blanche, are also enjoying the trip to Chile. They sat in the stands loyally throughout Roddick’s match on Friday. But his parents have also been seen around the hotel neighborhood taking in the atmosphere and enjoying the local cafes with friends who traveled with them to this tie.
The wives don’t usually travel to Davis Cup, but this tie in South America not only attracted Decker, but also Bob Bryan’s bride, Michelle Alvarez. The two were married in December and are here together.
Bryan told me the other day that “marriage is great.” The duo married in the beautiful old Spanish Monastery in North Miami – a European church that was rebuilt brick-by-brick in its current home.
Flashing lights and false prohibitions
By Chris Bowers in Vienna
You know something is a little different when you walk into a tennis stadium and see a sign saying 'photography prohibited'. But then you've got the sense that something about this tennis stadium is a little different well before you walk into Hangar 3 at Vienna airport.
The temporary arena being used for the Austria-France tie is not just at an airport, it's 'airside'. That means security is supremely strict. You can't just walk in, even though the official hotel is just 10 minutes away on foot. You have to enter by an officially approved vehicle. And that officially approved vehicle can't just arrive - it has to be piloted in by a yellow airport security car with a red flashing light on it. Even then, the car with the red flashing light has to go through three security barriers on every journey to-and-from the stadium.
When the near 6,000 spectators arrive for Friday's action, they too will have to be piloted in. They can get the slick 16-minute train from Vienna city centre to the airport, but they will then be shepherded into shuttle buses that take them through the three security buses to the hangar.
You can either love it or loathe it, and for those who don't like it, it's a good test of how to accept things you can't change. Austria sees a great opportunity in this tie, all its regular venues in the capital were booked up, so it has been creative by building a stadium from scratch in an unlikely place. It certainly will be a memorable experience for those in Vienna this weekend.
But that 'photography prohibited' notice is about the one safety/security notice that can be successfully ignored. The hangar is normally used by airlines who are dealing with highly sensitive equipment, so the sign is there for aviation purposes, not for tennis. With the planes of Niki Lauda's latest airline FlyNiki due to use the hangar from the middle of next week, it seemed hardly worth taking down the photography signs.
Which part of 'no' don't you understand?
By Chris Bowers in Vienna
Austria made a last-minute team change, bringing in Oliver Marach for the veteran Julian Knowle. The issue was who would partner Jurgen Melzer in Saturday's doubles. Melzer, the reigning Wimbledon champion, has played 14 times with the originally nominated Knowle, and never with Marach - neither
in Davis Cup nor on the tour.
So when Marach was drafted in from the South American clay circuit to replace Knowle, everyone assumed there was an injury. So your correspondent went up to Knowle and asked him if he was injured. 'No' replied Knowle with an icy stare, suggesting he was far from happy with the decision. No further questions were forthcoming. Whether the gamble pays off will be known by Saturday night.
Sing Along With…
By Lee Goodall in Boras
In a country that gave the world Abba, it wasn’t too surprising that music featured strongly at the official dinner held at the Stadshushallen in Boras, Sweden, on Wednesday night. It’s safe to say, though, that none of the guests present expected to be the ones providing the entertainment.
The evening was punctuated by some truly memorable individual performances led by local musician and comedian Lasse Lindberg (playing electric guitar in a tight, vintage Sergio Tacchini tracksuit), who singled out guests to represent their nations up on stage.
First up, the Swedish team led by enthusiastic captain Thomas Enqvist, quickly followed by the Russians with ‘Kalinka’ (accompanied on stage by none other than Marat Safin).
It didn’t end there. Next, the tie’s Spanish chair umpires, Poncho Ayala and Enrique Molina, served up an impressive medley of ‘Guantanamera’ and ‘La Bamba’ before a Scottish-Belgian-English quartet which included, among others, tie referee Tom Kinloch and yours truly, that treated a bemused audience to a Glee-style ‘mash-up’ of ‘The Bonnie Banks O' Loch Lomond’, ‘Seasons in the Sun’, ‘What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor’ and Tom Jones’ ‘Delilah’.
Quite a night. The tennis players have a hard act to follow.
Thank you for the music
By Maximiliano Boso in Buenos Aires
I close my eyes and concentrate. I can feel the sun on my face. Summer in Buenos Aires can be really hot. I hear the sound of hammers, machines, shouting workers giving long distance orders. There is no doubt: I am just in front of a building under construction.
Then, I open my eyes. The workers are almost everywhere, but one place: the court. We are not in a building under construction. We are in Mary Terán de Weiss stadium, where Argentina is hosting the Davis Cup first round tie against Romania.
The last days before a Davis Cup match are usually used to put everything in order. Here and there, people come and go with any kind of tools. Many things need to be done. Rooms specially designed for official sponsors and their guests, the signs, the security system, the media room, the shops, the restaurants – all need final tweaks.
That is why players have to get used to practicing with a lot of noise. The rule of silence has to wait until the matches begin.
Romanian Victor Hanescu was having problems with his serve during a practice session with his teammate Adrian Ungur. All of a sudden, the stadium became a big disco under the hot midday sun. Sound checking. Pump up the volume. The Black Eyed Peas performing the song “The Time (Dirty Bit)”, a new dancing cover version of the 1981 song “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life”, by Franke and The Knockouts, better known for the version recorded by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes for the movie “Dirty Dancing”.
Sitting in his bench, Hanescu enjoyed the moment with a big smile, clapping hands, and moving his arms and shoulders to the rhythm. It was the relaxation he needed to fix his serve, which, after that, flowed without problems.