TP On Tour goes Down Under! Here is a report of the beginning of our stay in Australia.
Why not start the 2020 season and TP On Tour’s first feature of the year with a trip that is going to be near impossible to beat?
This is what happened: Tickets had already been purchased for January 12th and 26th through the obscure Air China when a request came to film and document Elias Ymer’s first tournament in Canberra and his preparations ahead of the Australian Open qualifying. It would have been stupid to say no!
This text is somewhat of a chronological report of what has happened.
From leaving Arlanda – the airport in Stockholm – on New Year’s Eve with the not at all obscure Qatar Airways (best in the business) to what we have done to today. Approximately seven days with everything from chaos because of the current situation in Australia to thoughts from the Challenger tour and a lot of food. We appreciate food a little extre here on TP On Tour which you might have noticed before. Food is good stuff, simply put.
The flight from Arlanda took off at 9:55 PM on New Year’s Eve. TP and “Big Eli” Ymer set off to Canberra and King Kyrgios’ hometown.
Great to see several people on the flight recognizing Ymer and giving him words of appreciation. Swedish tennis is growing! Allez!
All was good and well when time was approaching 9:50. TP and Ymer had an aisle seat each (a must on long flights), but the man in the middle of the row was not entirely healthy. Constant coughing, devilish sounds from his throat and a runny nose which had a life of it’s own. We were heading towards a minor catastrophe even before flight QR0172 had left the ground.
Then came the rescue. A married couple a few rows ahead of us did not sit together but really wanted to. People kindly but decidedly said no, row for row. The disappointment from the married couple was major. Until they got to us. They had barely even asked the question before we left the ill man and we found ourselves in new seats. Aisle seats again of course.
The flight could then go painlessly to Doha Airport.
Another flight of approximately 15 hours then awaited to Sydney. How do you pass time on such a long flight you probably wonder? You sleep. There is nothing else. What do you then do if you have an extremely hard time sleeping on an airplane? You throw two quick sleeping pills down your throat and patiently wait for them to do their thing.
Life hack when it comes to these almost alien long flights: get an aise seat as far back as possible on the plane. Why? Well, because it is likeliest that the rows in the back are empty. Logical. This life hack had not reach “Big Eli” Ymer who however thought he had found something further in the front in economy. That is, exit seat furthest in the front of the plane. The leg space was not very good according to himself and “Big Eli” Ymer was also unlucky as a newborn baby was in the seat right next to his. Perhaps a mean thing to write but 15 hours on a flight next to a baby is nothing to recommend. I felt sorry for Eli. Perhaps that was also why I did something which should be written into history books on Swedish tennis under the category “acts of kindness”. I offered Eli the middle seat on my row, right in the back of the plane. My really friendly seat buddy from Australia (friendliest people in the world, by the way) who used both the aisle seat and the middle seat welcomed Eli with open arms (not quite).
Having arrived in Sydney I got a taste of the Lounge life for the first time ever. If you have followed TP On Tour over the years you know by now that we usually don’t travel with style, so to speak. Obscure hotels (Paris Velizy) mixed together with unnecessary stopovers is something that’s simply synonymous with TP On Tour. That’s why it was a little bit like coming to paradise. Sydney Airport Lounge. Eli could apparently get a guest into the lounge like the World Traveler he is and the gold card he has…
Results were as follows:
Not a very Instagram compatible photo let’s be honest.
Final stop. Sydney-Canberra would take just about 40 minutes. I’m sorry, Greta Thunberg.
Canberra skulle vara världens mest förorenade stad p.g.a skogsbränderna i Australien, vilket vi ganska snabbt blev varse om. Blå himmel i Sydney förvandlades till något taget ur Apocalypse Now. Ingen skugga på mobilkameran som hade svårt att hitta fokus…
When we landed, Canberra was the most polluted city in the world because of the wildfires in Australia, which we found out pretty quickly. Blue skies in Sydney turned into something from Apocalypse Now. Unsurprisingly the phone camera could barely get in focus…
Having arrived in Canberra people explained to us that the chances for a tennis tournament in city were not good.
We could just go to the hotel, take it for what it is, and hope for the best.
A few hours in Kyrgios’ hometown, a short trip to the city’s big mall, some chitchat with a barber who told us Kyrgios liked to drive past the mall in his mighty Mustang, before we got back to the hotel and got some sleep. And then, the announcement. The tournament was being moved to Bendigo. A players’ meeting would take place a couple of hours later where more information about the situation was given. A total of 12 players came, among which players like Henri Laaksonen, Blaz Rola and Danilo Petrovic. Tournament Director Kim with assistant explained just how bad the situation was in Canberra and wanted to ensure the players’ health. A bus trip next morning to Bendigo (an 8 hour trip) was arranged and we signed up for it.
The bus trip was an adventure in itself, which you can probably imagine. 8 hours on a bus. What do you do? You should know that by now…
Having arrived at the Bendigo Tennis Centre after the long bus trip everyone who was on the bus went out to the practice courts and grinded. Talk about passion for the sport!
It was practically impossible to practice in Canberra. Elias and Petrovic had a hit together the day before leaving for Bendigo, but it was for 45 minutes and very low intensity. Tournament Director Kim was clear in that regard. “Low intensive, mate. Nothing else.”
The poor air quality made it impossible to find any form of rhythm and it was almost as if the players played in high altitude.
Before the tournament started every day focused around practicing as much as possible for the first challenge of the tournament. That’s right, Danilo Petrovic!
Emil Ruusuvouri, Liam Broady, Saschia Vickery and some German who doesn’t play on the Challenger tour were Elias’ practice partners before the first round. And myself! I was asked if I could hit and, well, that question can be interpreted in different ways. If I can hit with a random recreational player at Järfälla Tennisklubb? Yes. Hit with a player ranked 170 in the world? Probably not. Especially not if you suddenly start to struggle to find the court. No, the session was cancelled before it had barely even begun…
Elias and the German whose name no one knows…
Before checking into the lovely Mercure Hotel in Bendigo, a hotel that the tournament had booked every room in (Tennis Australia are not short on cash), one night was spend in a highly obscure hotel which more resembled a prison. Akon’s “Locked Up” was played a lot.
Back to Mercure Hotel. The tournament had booked every room which meant that every night there were lots of Uber Eats bags flowing around with all kinds of different food. Indian, burritos, chipotle, sushi – you name it. Ymer’s favourite? The burrito.
Enough about hotel visits, obscure motels, food, flights, and other stuff which is not tennis related. It was Tuesday and it was time for Elias Ymer vs Danilo Petrovic. The 2020 season was about to start. It was time for the pre-season training and the detailed preparation to pay off. Ymer and Petrovic knew each other well. They had played before and practice just a couple of days prior in Canberra. Ymer vs Petrovic. Nike vs Hydrogen.
Petrovic’s big serving against Ymer’s attacking play from the back of the court.
As you probably know, Petrovic won in two straight sets and it was never really in doubt. Break fest in the first set where Ymer got broken three times and Petrovic twice. The Serbian gave the Swede no rhythm at all and sometimes an ace came booming down, sometimes a double fault, sometimes an insane backhand down the line winner or a forehand that landed on the freeway back to Canberra.
The conditions were similar for both players. Minimal practice after both arrived in Canberra, and I don’t know, perhaps I’m a bit biased here, which goes against all journalistic values, but yeah, you can’t really deny that it all benefited Petrovic the most. He’s not at all dependent on the same rhythm and grinding from the back of the court as Ymer is.
Highlights from Elias Ymer vs Danilo Petrovic
Oh well, an early loss in Bendigo and just a few hours later we’re sitting here in Melbourne. If you have managed to miss it, TP On Tour and Elias Ymer are doing a sort of collaboration here in Australia. A long vlog from the trip with a lot of material from behind the scenes (which we like) will be published eventually on our YouTube channel. The feeling is that it will take a while to edit, which is also necessary to make something really, really good!
See you guys soon!