Yesterday I had a chance to attend the 5th annual Tennis Classic exhibition in Bratislava, Slovakia. The line-up for the main singles match was very promissing – the current No. 1 and the winner of the London Masters Novak Djokovic agains the “Newcomer of the Year on ATP Tour” Martin Klizan. Both players are well known comedians. “Nole” Djokovic makes all sorts of pranks on fellow tennis players (both male and female) all the time. Martin Klizan is a player, who doesn’t hesitate to put on a colorful wig (after the successful Davis Cup tie) or large, colorful glasses and a hat (after winning a tournament). Naturally I expected a great show from both of them. Unfortunately, Martin probably left his sense of humor in the locker room yesterday. It seemed he was trying too hard to play regular tennis match (and beat the World No. 1), instead of entertaining the audience. On the other hand, Novak had a lot of funny lines, moments and impersonated several top male and female players (including Serena Williams). In the end, Novak Djokovic not only won sympathies of the sold-out arena, but also claimed the match in two sets 7:5, 6:3.
In the doubles match, Novak Djokovic teamed up with his long-time coach and former tennis player Marian Vajda and Martin Klizan was helped-out by the Slovak Davis Cup hero Dominik Hrbaty. Again, it seemed Marian and Novak enjoyed being on court so much more than Martin and Dominik. The “fun” potential of this exhibition match was enormous, however the evening wasn’t as great as I hoped.
Unfortunately, photographying the event was a nightmare. Apparently, the stars and the moderator weren’t instructed (or simply forgot) there was a booth full of photographers and camera men, who’d love to capture all the official ceremonies. We spent the evening looking at their backs instead. I sincerely hope this won’t happen next time.
The insane moments (I’d dare to call it a momentary lapse of reason) came during the intermission, when the traditional auction of tennis memorabilia took place. The audience bids for tennis rackets and apparel, that was autographed by the stars of the exhibition night. The proceedings usually go to support charity foundations that support underpriviledged kids’ sporting activities and the bids usually end up being several thousand Euros high. Yesterday, the battle for Novak Djokovic’s gear ended at mind-numbing 40 000 Euros. I’m all for supporting a worthy cause, but I honestly cannot wrap my mind around the fact somebody paid so much for a racket, two shirts and a seat in Novak Djokovic’s box on 1 tournament of choice. On the other hand, maybe we’ll see many new tennis stars in the future beause of this generous donation and something tells me the elderly gentleman, who won the auction, will recover rather quickly…
You can find more than 50 photos from Tennis Classic 2012 on my blog: http://hutera.blog.sme.sk/c/313322/Tennis-Classic-2012.html and a selection of my favorite photographs below.