What a weekend.
Day off on Friday was spent tearing down to London to watch the ATP World Tour Finals – a long-held dream fulfilled.
However, just as we saw Mo Farah and Usain Bolt fail in spectacular fashion when we went to the World Athletics back in August, we were in situe to witness the downing of another favourite.
And the rising of a new hero out of nowhere.
It was an early start, up at 6 to pack the children off to nursery and get onto the road.
Amazingly, we dodged rush hour traffic and survived both the M6 and M1 to arrive in London in very good time. Parking on someone else’s drive was an unusual feeling but absolutely ideal, just one tube stop from the O2 Arena.
Each tennis session features a doubles and singles match and we were there for the final group games. The finals have been dogged by injury withdrawals – pre-tournament absentees included Murray, Djokovic, Wawrinka, Nishikori and Raonic with Rafael Nadal joining them, pulling out on Monday night.
And we were due to see him as well. So it was with a tinge of disappointment that we took our seats.
However, we needn’t have worried. Watching world class tennis was a dream come true and on that Friday we got to see new star Dominic Thiem, doubles top seeds Kubot/Melo as well as home favourite Jamie Murray. Then there was Grigor Dimitrov’s powerful dismantling of Pablo Carreno Busta and David Goffin. More on him later.
Our amazing friends had lent us their house to stay in but it was a drive all the way across London to get there. It was with some surprise that we stumbled on some of London’s most famous landmarks.
Favourite moment? My wife looking at Google Maps and preparing me with a “There’s a roundabout coming up” only for us to look up and realise that the ’roundabout’ was actually Trafalgar Square. Nice.
The following day was an absolute bonus. I’d been lucky enough to secure tickets through work for a bonus session and this time we were going to see a long-held hero in Roger Federer. Couldn’t wait.
We got there much earlier using the train so could do some of the entertainment dotted round the concourse. We posed with the ATP trophy, my wife beat me at a random tennis quiz (frustrating) and we did our level best to dodge the ridiculous prices – £20 for a burger, coke and fries. Yikes.
Our seats this time were amazing. We felt so blessed. I did enjoy the semi-final atmosphere and the anticipation was unbelievable when Federer arrived in the arena.
His contest with Goffin was one of the best games of the tournament, all unpredictable drop shots, commanding forehands and shock breaks of serve. Personally, I was gutted to see Federer dismissed from proceedings but Goffin’s plucky performance secured him a place in our affections.
Going to the ATP finals was my one ambition for when I finished teaching and sitting there on Friday really felt special. The bonus extra day lifted the experience even more and allowed my wife to go crazy running round London checking out Christmas lights and taking lots of photos afterwards. Which she enjoyed.
Would I go again? Quite possibly. Although I’m wondering which overwhelming favourite we can down next year. I guess any game involving Blackburn Rovers is troublesome…