On Monday morning we met David & Audrey, our friends from Scotland in Holborn for breakfast. They happened to be in London for a long weekend so that was good timing – it was nice to see them again.
Given we had seen all of the tennis majors in 2014 we thought it only fitting that we went along to the O2 Arena for a day at the ATP Tour Finals. We caught the tube out to North Greenwich and were wowed by the O2 – it is huge with restaurants, a cinema, and a bowling alley. We had a look around before heading towards our entrance gate.
Along the way Steve discovered some table tennis going on – you could play against an English professional and if you got any points against the professional you won tickets to go ten pin bowling. Steve couldn’t resist – you could tell he was thinking I can take this guy! He put his name down and after a few minutes it was his turn – he looked good but only managed 1 point – note the games were only up to 3. He then put his name down and again only managed 1 point. I had to drag him away to go and find our seats.
We were sitting quite high up but had a good view of the game – a bit like our seats at the rugby where you were looking at the game from on high. The set up is awesome and because it is inside they can use lighting and sound to great effect. The players are introduced like rockstars and they have this heart beat sound and lighting going around the stadium while the players walk through a smoky entrance onto the court.
We were there for Pool A play so first up was a doubles match between:
Alexander Peya from Austria and Bruno Soares from Brazil (3rd seeds)
Jean-Julien Rojer from the Netherlands and Horia Tecau from Romania (5th seeds)
Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares won the match 6 / 3, 3 / 6, 12 / 10 in the tie break.
Towards the end of the second set they announced the Emirate Best Seats in the House competition where they panned the audience with a spotlight and picked out two people. Steve says to me “start waving” so I thought OK and started waving – next minute our faces were up on all the big screens and we had won the competition. It must have been the clashing colours we were wearing – I had bright pink on and Steve had his red jacket on. Everyone around us was congratulating us and we were saying “so what did we win” and they’re saying “we don’t know but you won something”.
Just before the doubles finished we went down to investigate what we had won. We went to Customer Services and they made a call. A guy from the ATP came down and said we would be collected by the Emirates team shortly. We got chatting to him and he works for the ATP and travels the world going to all the tournaments representing some of the players – two of those players being Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori. Not a bad job I thought.
Two ladies from Emirates then appeared and presented us with our prize and a goodies bag. We had won seats in the lower level to watch the upcoming singles match. They took us in and got us seated – we were half way up the first level on the net line – not bad.
We then watched Stan the Man Wawrinka from Switzerland (3rd seed) beat Tomas Berdych from the Czech Republic (6th seed) in straight sets 6 – 1, 6 – 1. The match was over in less than an hour which was a shame on two levels – firstly watching a close game is always good and secondly we wanted to enjoy our flash seats for a longer period. Unfortunately the prize didn’t extend to the evening session that we already had tickets for.
The afternoon session finished so we went to have some lunch and then check out the river bus service back to London for later that night. There were a few people lining up by these barriers and we thought they were waiting for the river bus but it turns out they were waiting to see Novak who was arriving on the river bus. Managed to get a close up photo.
We couldn’t believe the number of people that recognised us from the big screen – people kept saying to us “you’re the couple that won that prixe – what did you get?” Steve was feeling pretty pleased with himself – world famous at the O2.
Steve wanted to go back to the table tennis so I went for a coffee while he put his name down to play the professionals again. When I caught up with him he had got himself a little fan club of English lads who were egging him on. He was in his element. I left him there to go and watch the start of the evening session. He came in part way through the doubles and said he had had a proper game against the professional and lost 11 – 4.
The doubles match we watched in the evening session was between:
Lukasz Kubot from Poland and Robert Lindstedt from Sweden (8th seeds)
Mike & Bob Bryan from the USA (Top seeds)
Kubot & Lindstedt beat the Bryan brothers 7 / 6, 6 / 3
Next up was Novak Djokovic from Serbia (Top seed) versus Marin Clicic from Croatia (8th seed). Novak won Wimbledon this year and Marin won the US Open. Again it was a one sided affair with Novak being too strong for Marin. They did have some great rallies though and we enjoyed the game.
We decided to catch the river bus back along the Thames to the Embankment tube station where we got on the District Line back to our hotel. Another big day : )