As it happened: Heineken Open day one
tvnz.co.nz's Troels Sommerville was on hand to give live updates from centre court at the first day of the Heineken Open
live stream of the tennis here
7:39pm - Signing out
Although the show goes on tonight in the night session, I am calling it a day here at the Stanley Street tennis centre. So you can look forward to more updates that are interesting, informative and witty beyond all reason tomorrow. Choice.
7:37pm - Stanley at Stanley Street
So some real sporting royalty has made an appearance here at the open. I was saving this one for the last post of the day, but I can't contain myself any longer. Joe Stanley has been spotted roaming the area, I even shook his hand. For the uninitiated, Joe Stanley was an All Blacks centre in the eighties who pretty much revolutionised the position. Exciting stuff!
6:42pm - Isner sings the praises
Defending champion John Isner says he is definitely enjoying his return to Auckland. Comparing this year's set-up to that of his last jaunt down here, he said it was looking better with all the new facilities. Presumably, the news lay-out gives him a chance to stretch his legs. In his press-conference he also made sure to give a shout out to Auckland and say how much he loved the city, so I thought why not share his message of love with the readers of this blog.
6:20pm - Empty house
After packing out the stadium during the day session, tournament organisers have been a little rattled by underwhelming sale for the night-time show. It was always going to be difficult to match the sell-out crowds of the ASB Classic, but there haven't been too many sales for the night sessions here at the Heineken Open. It should be interesting to see how many people show up tonight.
6:12pm - "No?"
Tommy Robredo had a bit of advice for vanquished New Zealander Michael Venus at his press conference: "He needs to play a few more matches against top players to get better, no?" The Spaniard said Venus needed to play all his sets like he played the first against Robredo to win matches and progress at the top level. He said he knew he could win once he had broken the Kiwi in the second set, but he did not expect the final et to be 6-0.
5:54pm - The giant emerges
He may not enjoy this description, but it is inevitable thinking just this when gazing upon John Isner. The six-foot-nine-inch American has just been out on the practice courts and has attracted a fair few admirers. As defending champion he has enough pulling power to start a fan club. Hopefully, there will be clear skies so he doesn't have clouds obstructing his view.
4:47pm - Complete vindication
After dumping out New Zealand's top tennis player, Tommy Robredo has completely redeemed himself in the post-match race with remote controlled cars. Facing a young lad from the crowd by the name of Alastair, it looked like Robredo was again about to humiliate another Kiwi on centre court.
Alastair was having an absolute nightmare behind the controls and Robredo had already reached the finish line by the time his challenger managed figure out what was forward. But to the Spaniard's credit he stopped on the finish line - initially it looked like classic niggle - but then he came to the aid of the struggling youngster and helped him steer his way to victory. Absolute gentleman.
4:34pm - Deja vu (Robredo bt Venus 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-0))
And so it ends, once again, with a Kiwi going out to a Spaniard after winning the first set. It looks like a massive mental-fitness problem in New Zealand tennis as both Venus and Statham faded immensely as the matches wore on. The intensity just couldn't be maintained by either man after looking so promising early in their matches. Venus really dying in the third - winning a total of about three point in the final set.
4:25pm - Here comes the inevitable (Venus v Robredo 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 0-3)
How long have they been holding onto that gem? It was just a matter of time until Michael Venus heard the lovely Feelers ballad "Venus" blasting across the sound system. Someone behind the scenes has been absolutely itching to break it out the whole time the Kiwi has been on court. It also seemed to go on for much longer than the other musical interludes, and you can be sure to hear it again in the tournament if Venus beats Robredo.
4:13pm - Black Caps call
I've just received a call from New Zealand Cricket asking for a background check on Robredo ASAP. The Spaniard could be the answer to our batting woes after having seen him heave a ball way out of the stadium and probably into traffic - a sure six if ever I saw one. Possibly a relative of Nathan Fien, I think they may have had the same grandmother.
3:50pm - AMP'D! (Venus v Robredo 7-6 (8-6))
The crowd has erupted after Michel Venus has taken the first set in an epic tie-breaker. The Kiwi relinquished a huge lead to Robredo (leading 5-3 and forty love up in the game). He looked crestfallen as the Spaniard levelled the set at 6-6 and then went up 6-5 in the tie break.
However, unlike most New Zealand sportsmen, Venus fought back to win the tiebreaker 8-6. Superb.
3:32pm - Uh oh. Venus faltering (Venus v Robredo 5-5)
It's the simple things that are going wrong for Venus at the moment. The Kiwi has had plenty of chances to put Robredo away in this opening set, but his forehand just isn't connecting the way it should be. In retrospect, the same thing happened with Statham.
3:27 - Phenomenal point! (Venus v Robredo
A brilliant effort from Venus saw him chasing down everything the big Spaniard had to offer. It looked like it may have demoralised Robredo, but instead it fired him up and he fought back to break the Kiwi's service game
3:10pm - Venus on track
Wow! Michael Venus is really giving it Tommy Robredo. Up 3-0 early, he really hasn't been a slouch in this match. Maybe after being called Michael "Veniss" by Dominic Bowden before the match got him riled up.
3:02pm - The land of tennis
This place is massive, it's so big it could almost be classified
as a suburb. It's been a good deal of excercise getting around,
especially with all the detours because of the construction
that is still going on. But I've already found a few little
short-cuts (dubious really to call them short, more like
"less-long"). Although, the place is beginning to look more
and more like a world-class tennis centre. It's going to come
together brilliantly once it's finished. But maybe some sort of
conveyor belt might not be too much to ask.
2:56pm - A new hope
Next up we have New Zealand's No.1 Michael Venus facing up against tournament 11th seed Tommy Robredo. It's a tough ask, but the Spaniard isn't the force that saw him rise to fifth in the world at one stage. A vocal crowd might be just what the Kiwi needs to give him that extra boost.
2:37pm - Statham moves on
A bit of a retroactive update here: After all that excitement - the KIA race fallout and the women fawning over Spaniards - I'll return you to the tennis and Rubin Statham's press conference. Turns out it was the usual, "there are good things about my game, and things I need to improve on," talk from the Kiwi. He was obviously feeling a bit dejected after the loss, but he acquitted himself well.
He added that he was just looking towards the future, which is something you must learn to do if you want to be a professional sportsman.
2:20pm - Aha! A mystery to investigate
The female population in the stands seemed to be shrinking ever
so slightly, so I went to investigate. Possibly the reason for this
has something to do with the shirtless glistening Spaniards warming
up on the practice court, but I'm not too sure. It may just be
because word has spread of my presence, yet somehow I doubt
2:00pm - Boy with their toys
Massive controversy! American qualifier Mike Russell is livid
after he was robbed of victory by compatriot Bobby Reynolds albeit
in a race with remote controlled cars. After winning the first race
with the KIA cars, Russell was told he would have to race again
because the race organiser didn't see him complete the circuit.
Suffice to say it was a travesty, a complete miscarriage of
justice. In the end, though, Reynolds took the two follow up races
Russell was shaken by his disqualification. Hopefully this doesn't
weigh too heavy on his mind through out this tournament, there's no
telling how much damage could've been done.
1:15pm - Stunning style
Move over Maria Sharapova we've got two new fashion icons leading the way at the Heineken Open. Outside the tennis centre I've run into two rather dapper gentlemen wearing hollowed-out oversized tennis balls on their heads. Genius! Don't know if the two charming lads were coming for the tennis or were just in the area looking for Colin Mathura-Jefrees after reading the blog. My money is on the latter. I'll see if I can network and get them a little "face time" (as we call it in the industry) with the man himself. Now of to the first media conference of the day.
1:04pm - New Zealand's first casualty
And there it goes, New Zealand's first representative is out of the tournament. Here in the media tent it seems that, sadly, we are now judging our Kiwi players by how well they perform in their eventual and inevitable defeats. One line coming: "Has it really come down to that? To how little they embarrass themselves." Morale is at an all-time high.
12:58pm - Statham's swan song
Phew! Statham just fought off match point against Riba who has
come back spectacularly after falling out early in the match. What
had started as such a promising match for Statham has turned into a
bit of a spanking for the Kiwi. Statham started struggling from the
moment the big-hitting Spaniard calibrated his serve. It's really
just a matter of time.
12:51pm -"Celebrity" spotting
Off on a little jaunt around the ground I ran into, and by ran into I mean watched through the hordes of people, Colin Mathura-Jeffrees from New Zealand's Next Top Cat Model "fame". It may be a little thin in terms of the celebrity stakes, but I'm sure they'll come out a bit later in the day.
11:56am - Baking on centre court (Statham v Riba 6-4)
Not a bad start at all. The sun is shining, the tennis has kicked off and the media centre/shipping container is wonderfully air conditioned. In other possibly less trivial news, Rubin Statham is a set up in his qualifier after clinching the first 6-4. It looks like he took the Spaniard by surprise early as after dropping that first game he has held serve since.
11:20am - Promising start (Statham v Riba 2-1)
Well, here we are on day one of the Heineken Open, and as we all
know the first day is always one of the most important. That's why
you always want your best man on the job - instead they sent me, go
So first up on centre court we've got our very own Rubin Statham facing up against Spain's Pere Riba. And in the first game of the match Statham has already broken Riba's serve. Looks promising.
Have you been to any of the tennis this summer or plan on going? What's been your experience with the tournaments thus far?