The cavernous Arthur Ashe Stadium is more breathtaking, the aura surrounding Centre Court makes it more enchanting, and Court Philippe Chatrier is more atmospheric. But my feeling is that the Rod Laver Arena offers a better viewing experience than any other Grand Slam main court. I made my debut there today, and admittedly my positive first impression was surely helped by the fact that I was watching Roger Federer vs Dan Evans: for all the emphasis on the physical, pugilistic sides to tennis, this match was tennis as an art form, two players with similar philosophies and strokes.Read More
My phone pinged at 00:48am with a WhatsApp message: David and Catherine were in the media restaurant about to record the day one podcast. It was late, in fact it was technically day two by now, but this is nothing unusual for reporters covering tennis. It’s the sport that never sleeps. We hadn’t long since shuffled out of Andy Murray’s press conference, and this was the kind of scenario where the daily pods come into their own: on a night of exceptional drama, David and Catherine were able to offer their immediate, raw, unadulterated reaction to a match that will live long in the memory.Read More
It does feel a little strange not to be watching the Australian Open in my usual manner: waking up bleary-eyed in the middle of the night at home, doing my best to be part of the #SleepIsForTheWeak gang. When I think of the Australian Open, this routine is what comes to mind. I've been doing it for all my years as a tennis fan. It’s a gruelling way to spend a fortnight, but gratifying when you find solidarity with people on Twitter who are doing exactly the same thing. My experience of the Australian Open this year, however, could barely be more different. That’s because, for the first time in my life, I’m in Melbourne!Read More
In Spring 2013 life was good. For five years I had been living out my dream of working in tennis, occasionally traveling to an exotic destination to cover a Champions Tour event, and the rest of the time working to promote the sport I love from the comfort of my London flat, overseen by the best boss and mentor a person could ever wish for. A mentor who 12 months earlier had suggested that we start and co-present our very own tennis podcast, and just weeks before had helped me secure a place on the BBC 5 Live Wimbledon team. Then, for reasons I still can’t fully explain, I gave it all up.Read More
I remember the day I first heard the word 'podcast'. It was 2005 and the Simon Mayo Show was on BBC Radio 5 Live. Simon, one of the best broadcasters in the UK, was referring to a programme called 'Pods and Blogs' - a round-up of the new podcasts and blogs being produced around the world. I'd not heard of either word before. Blogs, I eventually worked out, involved people banging endlessly on about a subject in the written form. Pods were the same, but in downloadable audio form. I didn't expect to be interested in either. Then I discovered The Ricky Gervais Show.Read More
I'm on a plane over the Atlantic on route to New York to cover my 15th US Open for BBC Radio 5 Live. In spite of its irritations - elevators that don't work, only two indoor temperature settings (Sahara and Arctic), and food that rarely provides even one of your recommended five-a-day, it is probably my favourite Grand Slam tournament. Brash, electric, rowdy, fun.
And, if it were not for the US Open, I would not be working in tennis at all...Read More
I’m heading out to New York this Sunday to attend the US Open for the first time, thereby completing ¾ of my Career Fan Grand Slam. I can’t wait to feel the Big Apple buzz and the adrenaline rush of a lively night session crowd that I’ve heard all about. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even take the shuttle bus back to Manhattan following the day’s play and engage in a fierce argument with the driver. Or I might just leave that to Catherine and David … (if you don’t know what I’m referring to, check out this episode from the 2016 US Open).Read More
July 1998. I was 24. Five months had passed since I’d joined the ATP as a communications manager, straight out of university. It was a month after I’d collapsed with exhaustion at Queen’s, ending up in hospital - turns out it’s quite a good idea to eat and sleep as well as work 16-hour days. The Swiss Open in Gstaad was my first tournament back. And it was two weeks before I would meet the woman that would become my wife. It was also when, as detailed in the podcast, I met Roger Federer for the first time. Some year.Read More
Eve of Wimbledon atmosphere at Tennis Podcast towers is akin to the night before Christmas (also at Tennis Podcast towers) - giddy, excitable, and full of unrealistic expectation of what might follow. At least on my side of the pod. Catherine Whitaker is slightly more grounded.
There are so many delicious storylines to get stuck into over the next two weeks. The return of Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka, the rise of Jelena Ostapenko, the fact that five women could end the tournament as the World No.1.Read More
December is always the period when I realise just how much I like tennis. I need it. And when it’s not on, I miss it. Never are my levels of excitement higher than ahead of the Australian Open.
Sure, we’ve already had two weeks of tennis, but the players are still sharp and the form guides still relatively blank. Players wield new rackets, travel with new coaches and wear new kits. The New Year helps us see the players with fresh eyes and different perspectives. It’s a fascinating period.Read More
He isn't perfect, I’m not claiming that. Sometimes his behaviour on court is tough to watch. But then, I think it’s probably a tough watch for Andy too, if and when he does watch himself back. That’s one of the things that pleasingly distinguishes him from a lot of athletes/millionaires/megastars; self-reflection.
There are other things that set him apart from many of his peers, and one of those is his attitude towards women.I know in the great scheme of things he’s no Germaine Greer or Laura Bates, but in the context of his environment, he really is.Read More
Now, I have to make a confession here, I have never gone back and listened to the first episode of the podcast. David does it all the time, and remarks to me with great pride how far we’ve come, but I can’t bear to.
I got over that cringey thing of listening to your own voice ages ago (not that it’s not still cringey, just that I’m used to it), I just can’t bring myself to listen to my voice as it probably was five years ago; nervous and tentative. I know without listening to Episode One how far we’ve come though.Read More