SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER!
 
 
Facebook Social Button Twitter Social Button Follow Us on InstagramYouTube Social Button Follow Me on Pinterest
NewsVideosScoresTV ListingsTournamentsRankingsLucky Letcord PodcastMagazine

Popular This Week

Net Notes - A Tennis Now Blog

Net Posts

Industry Insider - A Tennis Now Blog

Industry Insider

Second Serve - A Tennis Now Blog

Second Serve

 

Hello, everyone! This is the first entry in my daily blog from the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. 
I flew out of the United States on Friday afternoon, which was my first time flying outside of the country in about six years. 
 
I used to be very nervous about flying, but I was surprised by how normal the experience seemed. Of course, I've flown across the Atlantic ocean twice, so I certainly knew what to expect.
 
But it has been about eight or nine years since I traveled to England, so it all still feels rather new.
 
I'll start with the travel itself. I'm terrible at sleeping on planes, so this is what my flying experience was like in the past: 
 
1) Watch Shrek in English
2) Play solitaire (if you don't know what that is, look it up
3) Try to sleep
4) Fail
5) Watch Shrek in French
6) Stare out of the window
 
This time, I was pleasantly surprised because not only were there dozens and dozens of movies (that are fairly recent), but there were also games, and music (the Best of the Red Hot Chili Peppers kept me entertained). 
 
The trip went by quickly, and after negotiating Heathrow Airport I was on the underground train. 
 
While on the way to the North Greenwich station, which is right next to the O2 Arena, a few things really stuck out to me. 
 
We passed by a neighborhood with homes that must have been 50, 60, or 70 years old (or even older). Most had walls that must have been a brilliant white but have since faded to a greyish brown, with chimneys made of aged orange and red brick. 
 
Separating these homes were narrow streets with cobblestone sidewalks, and a little down the way I could see grassy lots with an uncountable number of vegetable gardens.
 
I got the feeling that, if you were to stand here 60 years ago, it would have looked very similar to what it looks like today. 
 
With one exception, of course. Satellite dishes and antennae were seemingly jammed on top of the roofs of most of these houses, which was as jarring as if Frodo Baggins would have pulled out his iPhone to find the best route to Mordor.
 
It made me think: in the United States we constantly knock buildings down to make way for whatever is new. But here, in London (and across Europe) all of these modern conveniences are simply jammed on to these historic buildings, whether they like it or not. 
Another thing stuck out to me too. I always thought the United States was an “international” place. We are known as the melting pot, after all. 
 
But just on the train ride to the O2 Arena, I overheard people speaking in Portuguese, French, German and I sat next to an Australian. 
 
Sure, New York, Miami and Houston are international cities. But in London, it's certainly much more in your face. 
 
When I reached the North Greenwich station and climbed the stairs, I was stunned.
 
The station sits right next to the O2 Arena, which is one of the most impressive buildings I have ever seen. 
 
It is simply enormous, and the inside is surprising as well. You have the main arena, where the court is, and then a circle of restaurants, bars and coffee shops outside, and all of this sits inside of a huge bubble. 
 
Of course they have a special set up for the ATP World Tour Finals, called the Fanzone. This includes games for the kids and two of the three external practice courts, which people can go to for free. 
 
I and Tennis Now photographer Andy Kentla arrived at the arena just in time for the pre-tournament media availability with four of the eight singles players (Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych).
 
As you can imagine, Djokovic and Murray were the big draws while Berdych and Ferrer spoke mostly to Czech and Spanish journalists. 
 
Although most of these interviews are done at round tables, they had the players sit on couches this time. Djokovic, Ferrer and Murray had fairly standard setups, while Murray was placed on a questionably upholstered couch made to look like the flag of Great Britain. 
All four players were incredibly composed in these interviews, which is remarkable when you have 10 or 15 people taking photos and video of you and even more shoving microphones in your face.
 
Moving on, the media room is enormous. Two rows of eight desks sit in front of three large projection screens. Two have the match on them, while the center has statistics. 
 
There's media from India, England, Spain, France, Germany, the United States, Poland, Brazil and so on, which is a pretty impressive collection of people and languages. 
 
Now, being in the position I'm in, I can bring you video and pictures from around the grounds and from the players practice sessions. I'll also be doing a video story later this week, as well as results updates, so make sure to follow us on facebook and twitter to see when we post them.
 
Until next time.
 

Posted: