It’s been a blast reading Andrea Nay’s updates from Cincy this week, as she contributed her photos and insights fresh from the hard courts. She offers this personal wrap-up of the past week’s activities and festivities. (And how cool is Bob Bryan?)
Although my press pass says media and my job title says photojournalist, I’m still a fangirl at heart. Without further ado, here are my three favorite frivolous experiences from CincyTennis 2012.
I’ve made no attempt to hide the fact that I’m a Safinette. Since Marat Safin’s retirement in 2009, friends have asked me who I consider his heir apparent in terms of pure hotness. My standard reply is that it’s simply impossible to dethrone him. Look at Men’s Tennis Forums. On any given day, his threads still draw more views than any other player active or retired, including Rafa and Roger.
Even so, I’m always willing to take one for the team and brave scorching sunshine to objectively seek out new — ahem — talent on the practice courts. The verdict after this week? Although I can’t hand over the title of His Royal Hotness to any of the young guns just yet, watching Fabio Fognini and Grigor Dimitrov practice together leads me to think they might at least compete with Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco for best shirtless bromance on tour.
The boys get double credit for laughing their way through their entire Friday afternoon practice session. Even though it wasn’t very warm by Cincy standards, Fognini, who his family calls “Grumpy”, dispensed with his shirt first. Dimitrov gave in and tore off his as well, yelling, “Oh, I see. That’s how we’re going to play it, huh?” Yes, G. Yes, indeed.
Federer’s Festive Friday
In public, at least, Roger Federer is always gracious after matches, win or lose. Something was in the air Friday night, though, as he pushed aside Mardy Fish to reach the semis. Beyond relaxed. Beyond relieved. Roger looked positively elated.
It’s normal for each round’s winners to go through the post-match motions of tossing autographed balls into the stands and giving on-court interviews. On Friday, Federer checked off these traditions with more than just the usual pleasantries. Dare I say he was exuberant. He also took time during a changeover to watch the kiss cam and laughed along with the crowd at the light moments on the jumbotron. It was wonderful to see him having so much fun in the moment.
Was it the night setting? “I do enjoy the night sessions a lot,” Federer said later. “Might be the case I even enjoy it more than the day sessions.”
His effort on the court this week was just as enjoyable. Last year here, I remember thinking he seemed a little restrained in his movement. The trademark tenacity was there, but his footwork seemed a bit heavy. This time, his style reminded me more of the first match I saw him play here in 2005. Pure ballet.
It’s always a gift to see the Maestro play live in his prime. Thanks, Rog, for making it flat out fun Friday night as well.
My Golden Moment
So, I’m coming down the stairs to leave the interview area, and as I get to the first floor, I see that a group has gathered. They’re inspecting something. It looks like . . . could it be? Yes, it is! It’s a gold medal from London.
The person holding the prize is not Andy Murray, Serena Williams, or a Bryan Brother. Instead, it’s a CincyTennis staff member. I ask to take a close-up shot of it.
Before I know what’s happening, Bob Bryan swoops in, places the medal ’round my neck, and grabs my camera from my hand.
“I’ll take it!” he says. The DSLR is set on manual, and the settings aren’t right. I offer to switch it to Auto for him. “No, no,” says Bob. “I know how to do it. I’m a pro!”
Two blurry shots later, he realizes he needs Auto after all. I make the change, he snaps, and voila . . . I have quite a memorable souvenir. Of course, my Facebook friends now think I won for my hidden talent in rhythmic gymnastics. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone the truth!
Thank you, Bob, for being such a good sport. A quick glance at his Twitter shows he’s given lots of fans, friends, and family the same gold medal moment. What an outstanding ambassador for both tennis and the Olympic spirit.
Follow-up note: I’m always honored to show off my home event each summer as the Western & Southern Open takes the world tennis stage. After 114 straight years in Cincinnati, the tournament is bigger and better than ever. More than 1,300 volunteers and 170,000 fans — a record — gathered to witness greatness on both the men’s and women’s side this week. Many thanks to GTT for letting me join the party. It’s been a privilege.
Thank *you* Andrea!
Andrea Nay is a freelance photojournalist based in Western Ohio. When she isn’t chasing aces on the court in Cincy, she’s capturing college football, concerts, and travel. Find more of her work at AndreaNay.com.