Friday, July 6, 2018

Day 2 at Wimbledon

When I suggested to Gary that we did not have to get up to meet a 4am uber for Tuesday, the second day,  he was incredulous. The second day was--we had been assured--lighter in terms of fans than the first.  So why did we need to beat the sun to the queue. Gary countered and said we had the drill down now.  He had a point. It is a drill I would be delighted to forget about it by Wednesday, but this is why we had travelled to England. So I agreed.  He yielded some so we gathered at 415 in the lobby of the London hotel.

Neville, our uber driver from Monday was the same fellow who picked us up at 415.  In much better spirits on Tuesday, he again got us to the queue in a short time.  We followed the stewards' directions, walked to the flag and got our card.  We had a number in the 1600s, 600 positions closer to the front than on Monday. On Tuesday on the queue we met two sisters from London directly behind us and two chums one of whom worked for a London newspaper.  Again, another group--less boisterous than Monday's revelers--were knocking them back before 5 am.  This group was, judging by the newspapers and books they were reading, more cerebral than Monday's. Still they had laid out a blanket like a tablecloth. On it, were glasses filled with red wine,  beer or champagne. The sun had not yet come up.

What neither Gary or I predicted, and what I will remember for months, was how cold it was on this second day.  I was wearing shorts and, fortunately, a long sleeve top with a windbreaker.  Gary was similarly attired. Nevertheless, we were freezing as were many on the line.  We had brought a blanket to lie on, but instead took turns wrapping it around ourselves to stay warm. We went to get coffee from the vendors and also bought some warm doughnuts which tasted delicious and, beyond the taste, addressed the cold. We discovered a cafeteria about 1/4 of a mile away and took turns going to it, less for any food, but more because it was warm.  By the time we arrived at the grounds, and later in the day, it was nearly as warm as it had been on Monday, but it was freezing cold on that queue until about 7 or 8 am.

The line moved much more rapidly on the second day.  We were in the arena a full 45 minutes if not an hour earlier than the day before. Also because I had agreed, however reluctantly, to the 415 departure we were able to pay a bit more and get seats into one of the three stadiums that we could not get into the day before.  Wimbledon retains a number of seats in these prestige arenas for queuers. We knew that, and knew we would get shut out of these on Monday.  We thought that we would get shut out on Tuesday as well, but we were able to buy these tickets.

And they were terrific.  We were four rows back, center court.  When we heard they had retained some seats for the peasants, we figured they would be on the moon.  Not so. These seats would cost 1000 dollars easy at the US OPEN. And, the people we met from California who had bought the tickets in advance, had paid over 800 dollars a seat in the same arena.  They could not have been as close as we were.  I got to see Djokovic easily beat an opponent with strokes that were just remarkable.  We saw two other matches from these incredible seats.  Earlier we were in the second row on an outer court watching a match and I marveled at how close we were to the competitors.

While there might have been fewer people on the queue when we arrived to line up before 5, the grounds at Wimbledon themselves were more crowded on the second day than the first.  Just jammed. More crowded than I can recall at the USOPEN. The grounds at Wimbledon are not as open as they are at the USOPEN. The lines to get into certain venues are a bit longer in New York than at Wimbledon, but there is more room to move about on the grounds in New York.  Food prices in Wimbledon are more reasonable, but the lines to get to them can be challenging.  We gave up considering the strawberries and cream because the lines were too long whenever we considered waiting on them.

Some observations from the tennis and the spectators.

The players' abilities to get to dropshots was something to see. A ball that seemed completely out of reach they could manage to get and in some instances do something clever with the ball.

You could hear, from where we sat, the comments from the players to themselves, the officals, and each other.

I could get a sense of whether a player was a cry baby from their gestures and attitudes toward their opponents.  On one of the outer courts a guy was clearly getting trounced, and he kept looking at the officials as if they were the cause. At one point he was caught at the net when his opponent flipped the ball over the whiner's head.  He raced back to try and get it, but when he knew that hitting the ball back was hopeless, he hit it away from the court as far as he could, the ball probably landed near the strawberries and cream stand.  The referee called him for a sportsmanship offense. The offender turned around with an incredulous "who me" look on his face and began to plead his case in such a transparently disingenuous way that I wrote this guy off for evermore.

I am recalling now a fellow we met on Monday. He was charting every single play. When I asked him why, he said he was a journalist from Luxembourg and one of the competitors was from Luxembourg himself. Still, he charted every single point.

The ballgirls and ball boys had a paramilitary style when play began, during points, and when they were relieved as they were periodically throughout the match.

One player routinely foot-faulted and it was not called once.

More than I recall it from the USOPEN, people cheered for their countrymen and women.  When an Aussie was playing, the Australians around me shouted for him. When Kyle Edmund, a Brit, played the place was very supportive of him.  Meanwhile he was real good.  I saw, from the fourth row, Edmund whip his first round opponent. I read yesterday that he won the second round.  He plays Djokovic in the next round, and I think his ride will be over. Still very impressive.

During the Djokovic match at almost exactly 7pm, people were cheering on his opponent so that the match might be a bit longer.  When those cheers were voiced, followers of Djokovic also shouted their support.  Then in the amidst of cheering for the competitors, a yell came from the crowd that  caused both players to laugh. Someone shouted, GO ENGLAND, at about the time when England's world cup match against Columbia was about to begin.

After we returned to the hotel I went to a pub to see the end of the soccer match.  England had led by a goal nearly the entire game, but the home town team was tied very late in the contest.  I got to the pub just in time to see the end.  Quite a scene in there when England prevailed 4-3 on penalty kicks.

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