Every fan knows there’s no substitute for watching your favourite sport live, in person. There’s something about the atmosphere of being in the stadium, in the rink, or in the bleachers that just doesn’t communicate well through TV.
In our case, our passion is tennis. The timing of our current trip to Australia is based around attending the Australian Open. However, we also made sure we would be in Brisbane for the Brisbane International, one of the biggest warm-up tournaments for the Aussie Open. What a fantastic tournament!
WTA Quarterfinals and ATP 2nd Round
We had tickets to the Thursday day sessiom, which worked out to be men’s 2nd round and women’s quarterfinals. The line-up couldn’t be any better from our perspective – Cornet vs Cibulkova, Kuznetsova vs Muguruza, and Canadian Milos Raonic (the defending champion and top seed) vs Schwartzman.
We purposely got to the grounds early, an easy train ride (free for tennis ticket holders) and short walk from downtown Brisbane. Since this was the middle of the tournament, there were still plenty of players on the practice courts. We walked by Wawrinka, Muguruza, and were lucky enough to run into fellow Canadian Genie Bouchard. Even though she was already out of the tournament, she was practicing before heading to her next tournament in Sydney.
Just exploring the grounds was fun. The Brisbane International is only an ATP250 tournament, but is also a WTA Premier event. For the level of tournament, the grounds were fairly spacious with plenty of food options (sushi, kebabs, sandwiches, coffee, pretty much everything you could want). Like any sporting event, prices were pretty high but luckily there were no restrictions on bringing in our own snacks, so we were in good shape.
Great Tennis on Pat Rafter Arena
The tennis on Pat Rafter Arena started at 11am and we were there for the start. This is one area where the Brisbane tournament really impressed us. Whether it’s at a Maple Leafs hockey game, a Blue Jays baseball game, or even Grand Slam tennis events we’ve attended, often the attendance for the beginning of the game/match (especially if it’s a women’s match) is poor. In this case, the stadium was packed from the get go. It was great to see the high level of interest from Brisbane tennis fans.
Early on in the first match, we found out via Twitter that Milos Raonic was out on the practice courts. At the first change over, Trevor ran out to the practice courts. He just caught Milos as he was heading back to the changing rooms and was lucky to get a picture with the best Canadian tennis player in history!
Cornet vs. Cibulkova
The matches were all fantastic. In the first, we were cheering for the Slovakian, Cibulkova, who we had watched play in person several times. It’s amazing how much power she generates, considering she’s a relatively short player. Unfortunately, she fell to Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in two tight sets.
Muguruza vs. Kuznetsova
Things picked up for us when the Spaniard Muguruza won her match against multi-Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova. We were glad that Pat Rafter Arena has a roof as we could see rain falling off and on outside the arena (unfortunately, much of our time in Brisbane and the “Sunshine Coast” of Australia was characterized by heavy and frequent rain).
Raonic vs Schwartzman
Finally it was time for Raonic’s first match of the tournament. After a shaky start, Raonic steadied himself and put away Schwartzman in two relatively quick sets. We were there cheering loudly with our Canadian flag waving. It was great to see at least one other flag in the stadium – it’s amazing that no matter what tournament we go to, if there is a Canadian playing, we’ll see a few other Canadian flags in the stands.
Unfortunately, as we write this several days later, Raonic fell in the semifinal to Grigor Dimitrov, despite a great win over the legend, Rafa Nadal, in the quarterfinals
It was a great day at the Brisbane International. Anyone coming to Australia for the Australian Open should really try to make it up to Queensland for this tournament. The level of tennis is phenomenal, the stadium and grounds are clean and modern, and the tournament seems to be extremely well run. It was just a great experience for us, and wet our appetite for more tennis in Australia.