In my earlier post about crazy Gaston Gaudio I said that I might reflect on some other Auckland tennis memories later. Well, I’ve had a lot of requests, but I’m going to keep writing anyway. That’s a bad joke. But I thought I would look back at the last ASB Classic final, as it was quite a memorable experience. Top seed Jelena Jankovic beat fifth seed Vera Zvonareva 7-6(9) 5-7 6-3. It was, as the header says, a real rocketbuster. There were breaks, there were breaks back (break backs?), set points saved, set points squandered, winners, errors and almost 3 hours of action jackson. I’m not going to say it was the best match of the year or anything, but it was definitely the best match of the tournament, and the best ASB Classic final I had ever seen.
The atmosphere is what I remember most. It was a beautiful day, the players were into it and the crowd was hot. There was a large group of Serbian fans that had been cheering for Jankovic since the first round, all kitted out in their flags and shirts and giant hats. They had their big chants going, JELENA JAN-KO-VIC clap clap clap, it was great. And Jelena being the free spirit that she is would flash them smiles and winks, making them go even wilder. Not that she wasn’t concentrating on the match. Woman was there to win.
Zvonareva was not without her supporters either. The lady is popular in Auckland. She had reached the final the previous year (fell to Marion Bartoli), and is generally pretty adorable, so it’s not surprising. One of the more boisterous boxes (the infamous Box 24 I think) contained a group of men wearing furry hats sitting with a giant cardboard cut out of Boris Yeltsin. I don’t believe they were Russian (they didn’t look like they were in any kind of hurry, hahaha) but they were certainly there to get behind Vera. Does everybody know the song Guantanamera? You know, the one that Toyota borrowed the tune from for their One Tonne Rodeo ads? Well whenever the Serbians’ Jankovic chants died down Box 24 would sing “There’s only one Zvonareva, there’s only one Zvon-a-re-va” to the Guantanamera tune. Had to be there.
So it was an excellent match and a fine end to a successful tournament. It was great to see the talented Jankovic win a title, and her season only got better. It was also good to see Zvonareva, not usually known for her mental toughness, put up such a good fight. She’ll be the top seed in the 2008 event, and it would be sweet to see her on finals day again. Hopefully we will see some more three-set thrillers over the week anyway.
In quick 2008 ASB Classic news, the young Tamira Paszek (pictured) is already in Auckland, setting a record for earliest ever arrival. The girl is keen.