I have been watching the Australian Open this year. I usually miss it, but with fewer demands on my time at night I'm just reveling in having time to check it out. (I don't really have the time, but so what?) This year, the game is being played on a new surface, meant to counteract the variability in play caused by the superhot conditions courtside in the Aussie summer. The pretty blue surface, called Plexicushion, is a lot easier to watch on television than the green surfaces of old; the ball is much easier to follow. I don't know if it's making any difference in the level of play, but the tennis has been fun to watch nonetheless.
The women's final is decided, and I just watched Ana Ivanovic come back from a bagel in the first set (!) to beat Daniela Hantuchova in the women's semifinal. Two observations: first, the level of athleticism in women's tennis has really accelerated in recent years. These ladies hit hard and fast all the time. No moonball to speak of, which is a welcome change from the slower games of old. Does anyone even use the lob anymore, besides to get out of a bind? Second: what is up with the line calls? I haven't been following tournaments very closely in the last few years, so I'm surprised they've instituted limits on line challenges and that everyone seems so frustrated with the chair. Is everyone moving to this electronic system?
Despite the fact that my shoulder has only recently recovered from its reinjury when I played tennis this past summer, I'm determined to get back in shape enough to play this summer. I just spent 45 minutes in the gym, and I even ran on the treadmill. This is how you know I mean business.
In other sports-related news, it's time to start following my cousin and the Hoyas for one last season. Last I heard, he'd been accepted to law school and he may or may not be considering deferring while he tests his mettle at a pro basketball berth. The team is doing well, having lost only two games this season, and managing to eke out a win in OT against Syracuse on Tuesday. It would be very cool if they went for it in March Madness again this year. Maybe this time I could get a ticket to a game!