The Canberra Challenger Vibe

When tennis superbrat Bernard Tomic announced to the world, he had lost ‘the vibe’ and would rather count his money than play the game, it immediately ignited ‘the vibe’ in countless retired tennis buffs, including myself.

Tomic, the man who constantly reminds the public he’s vastly richer than us, thanks to tennis, can no longer pick up a racquet for love-nor-money.

It was a timely announcement, the 2018 Australian summer of tennis was underway and in many people’s eyes, Tomic’s absence was a big plus for the code! The knowledge that the 25-year-old would not be adding his millions at the Hopman Cup, Brisbane International, Sydney International and locally the ATP Canberra Challenge, gave the events even greater appeal.

ACT Tennis CEO, Kim Kachel, had ‘the vibe’, he was more than willing to talk-up the Challenge on my breakfast radio show on 1053 2CA. As I discovered, Kim can dangle a carrot with the best of them!

“There are 11 players ranked inside the Men’s top 100 competing, champion Dudi Sela is back to defend his title and admission is free”. Said Kim.

Those mouth-watering facts had me reaching for the iPhone and heading straight for the first media conference featuring the one-and-only Dudi Sela.

Foremost in my mind during the 5-kilometer journey from the Capital Radio studios in Mitchell to the North Lyneham arena was the classic courtroom scene from the movie The Castle, where stumbling, bumbling lawyer Dennis Denuto played by Tiriel Mora, struggled to define the importance of ‘the vibe’ when challenged by the presiding judge. No one could question the relevance of the term on this occasion, tennis was buzzing with excitement since becoming a ‘Tomic Free Zone’!

However, it was a strange ‘vibe’ seeing the flag of Israel, (home of Sela), flying high, right by the main entrance. It’s something you don’t see often in the world of sports. How many Israeli world champions are there?

I nearly lost ‘the vibe’ when Sela proved to be a lackluster mumbler, unable to provide anything of interest for broadcast in my radio show. When will the modern day sports professionals learn the need to ‘sell’ themselves both on-and-off the field/court? Sela was comprehensively beaten 7-6, 6-1, by Frenchman Hugo Grenier in the first round.

On the court, next door, big serving #8 seed Laslo Djere of Serbia, belted his first ball in the direction of lanky Frenchman Maxime Janvier. Janvier had trouble coping with Djere’s powerful service but more than held his own once a return of serve was accomplished. Janvier won the match, keeping his tournament hopes alive right up until the semi-finals where the 1.93m right-hander was eliminated by #6 seed and eventual runner-up Marton Fucsovics of Hungary.

Aussie wildcard entry Ben Mitchell and qualifier Jeremy Beale were the best of the Aussie performers, both making it to the second round before bowing out.

The Doubles competition provided the usual, in-ya-face, lightening reflex, high octane, think quick, mega volley-fest action, except when it came to the Final. In that match runners-up, Andrei Vasilevski & Hans Podilipnik-Castillo tried to blast Jon Erlich & Divij Sharan off the court with a poorly executed power game that turned the clash into a complete joke! 

But, in the Singles there was never any doubt the crowd favourite was Andreas Seppi. The Seppi-camp gladly mixed it with the punters. Partner Karin Knapp and coach Massimo Sartori regularly sat among the fans in the early contests… you should have seen the size of the rock on Karin’s wedding finger!

The former world #18 consistently attracted the most spectators, mostly Italians, entertaining them with a game of accuracy rather than power. Seppi struck the ball with pinpoint precision, working the baselines to the max! Despite his reticence to charge the net, the 33-year-old still offers a graceful, exciting style of play.

‘The vibe’ was huuuge for the Final! Most seats were filled well before the scheduled start, which was frustratingly delayed by 35 minutes due to rain. The Italian and Hungarian flags, both red, white and green in colour, fluttered vigourously above grandstands, confusing most spectators.

“Where are you from?” asked the elderly gentleman beside me. He seemed surprised when the reply was, “Australia mate”. He wasn’t sure which flag belonged to Italy.

“It’s the one with the vertical colours”. I informed him.

The contest was an exciting three-setter with Seppi coming back from a set down to win the title.

As Andreas Seppi was being crowned ATP Challenger champion, news broke that another Italian Lorenzo Sonego ranked 200 in the world, was kicking serious Tomic butt! Bernie had change a heart, deciding to fight for a place in the Australian Open via pre-tournament Qualifiers. Alas, with no ‘vibe’ the fabulously wealthy Aussie was duly eliminated in a three-set clash.

Keep counting that cash Bernard, won’t be long before it’s all gone!

You don't have permission to register