After a week of witnessing nearly every aspect of the Aircel Chennai Open in vivid and happy detail, the end of the tournament almost feels like saying goodbye to a close friend. I would be lying if I said I don’t feel a little empty inside when I process the fact that no longer will I walk through the gate of the SDAT stadium at precisely 3 pm every day. The rushing to the Media Room to check on the scheduled activities for the day, the flitting between the courts to ensure that you catch at least part of the action from every match, the sound of the ball hitting the racquet that seems to emanate from every direction – I’ll miss all of it, and then some.
As I look back at the seven bustling days that I spent at the venue, I realize just how much more satisfying it is, from both a reporter’s point of view and a tennis fan’s perspective, to actually be at the courts for any tournament than to watch it on the television. Here are the top five reasons why I believe it’s always a good idea to buy a ticket to a tennis tournament if it is being held at a distance anything less than the equator’s length from your house:
1. The actual match play looks infinitely more impressive
Whether it is Stanislas Wawrinka’s jaw-dropping backhand, Vasek Pospisil’s cannon-fire serve, Ramkumar Ramanathan’s booming forehand or Edouard Roger-Vasselin’s deft volleys, all of it looks impressive at a whole different level when you watch from the stadium. It’s difficult to put my finger on exactly what it is that makes the play look better; the TV broadcast, after all, is replete with close-ups, a wide variety of viewing angles, slow-motion replays and, on the latest HD screens, incredible clarity. But there’s something about the way the players wind up for each of their shots, and the way they seem to measure each shot in order to achieve that inch-perfect accuracy, that makes you appreciate their talents even more.
A lot of the great shots you see on TV look like random works of inspired genius; there’s even a hint of a suggestion that they are born out of plain dumb luck. When you are sitting just a few feet away from the action, however, you know that luck has nothing to do with it. Every swing, every step, every slice and every slide is the result of a series of carefully calibrated actions. A typical rally in a professional tennis match – be it a qualifying encounter or a high-stakes final – represents athleticism of the highest order, something that is often lost in the TV broadcast of a match.