Diary: Live streaming getting a little too invasive for comfort

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My Australian Open experience this year has been a tad weird.

There’s been a sense of negativity in the air since the match-fixing report came out on day one and the ‘Happy Slam’ has seemed a little unhappy.

Still being able to stroll around these grounds is a privilege and the quality of matches, particularly on the women’s side has been just stellar.

There is one bizarre thing though that I only noticed the other day that took me by surprise. This year, the Australian Open has a YouTube channel streaming live from various camera feeds spread across the corridors, hallways, practice courts and interview rooms to give fans a behind-the-scenes look of the tournament.

It’s a smart idea and could definitely bring fans closer to the sport but these cameras are literally everywhere and some hallways even had microphones which means random people watching this YouTube channel could actually hear a private conversation someone is having while standing close to that mic and camera.

Nick Kyrgios.

Nick Kyrgios.

The other day, one camera lens awkwardly zoomed in on Aussie couple Nick Kyrgios and Ajla Tomljanovic who were sitting side by side after having a hit on a practice court and they looked like they were in a serious discussion. They also did not look like they knew they were being filmed.

The longer the camera stayed on them, live streaming this to the world, the more awkward it felt. Has the Australian Open suddenly become an episode of ‘Big Brother’? Or maybe ‘The Bachelor’.

Streaming practices, pre-match walk-ons, even snippets of press conferences, that is all fantastic, but perhaps things are getting a little too far with the couples-watch?

Milos’ day out

Meanwhile, it’s been interesting getting to know more about Milos Raonic, a player who seems to be opening up to the media more and more each day.

Want to get Raonic talking? Mention art and he’ll definitely light up.

The Canadian visited the National Gallery of Victoria a few days ago on his day off between rounds and he said he particularly enjoyed Ai Weiwei’s work there.

He says being able to step away from the tennis momentarily during a slam, like his visit to the gallery, has been a welcome escape.

“I can be very obsessive when it comes to the process and what I need to do for the next match. I am constantly considering things,” explained the No13 seed.

“That (visit to the gallery) was definitely a nice escape from myself.

“I saw a lot of Warhol exhibits before. It was more of the Weiwei installations I wanted to see, especially the Infinite Bicycle one that was in the centre of the museum.

“Magnificent in many ways. I think that whatever iteration you see of Andy Warhol’s life has sort of been redefined over many years due to his unfortunate passing, but Weiwei’s story is constantly building and you’re hearing something different.

“There is a lot I’m learning about his house arrest and all these kind of things, his rebel behavior towards establishment and so forth. I think the most impressive thing is how grand his installations are.

“It’s tough for somebody to put it in their own home, but they speak wonders I believe.”

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Stage set for Djokovic and Federer showdown in Australian Open semis

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World No1: Novak Djokovic.

They may be locking horns for a 45th time but a showdown between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will never be considered a normal match, according to the latter’s coach Boris Becker.

It’s the second-most contested rivalry in the Open Era with only Rafael Nadal’s 47 matches against Djokovic played out more times.

Should Djokovic defeat Federer in their Australian Open semi-final Thursday, he would inch ahead 23-22 and lead their head-to-head for the first time in his career.

He achieved that feat against Nadal earlier this month when he beat him in the Doha final to take a 24-23 lead over the Spaniard in career meetings.

“I was behind most of the head-to-heads against most players throughout my career. It does feel good, I must say, to level the head-to-head,” Djokovic said in Melbourne.

“I did go through my moments, periods of my career, where I was doubting myself, not knowing really if I can manage to get to No1 and achieve the childhood dream, break the dominance of these two guys (Federer and Nadal). Of course, I’ve been through those moments.

“But those moments made me tougher. Under those circumstances and challenges when I was down, I had an opportunity to grow and to get better.”

Djokovic is on a 19-match grand slam winning streak and has won 15 of his last 16 matches against top-10 opposition. That one defeat came to Federer in the round robin stage at the ATP World Tour Finals last November. But the Serb immediately retaliated and beat Federer in the final a few days later.

The world No1 leads Federer 8-6 in grand slam encounters and won both major finals they contested last season.

Considering he has had the upper hand in best-of-five matches against Federer recently, many predict yet another Djokovic victory today. But the Serb’s coach, Becker, who won the Australian Open for the first time 25 years ago, says nothing is guaranteed in a match against Federer.

“There is nothing typical when it comes to the two of them. They have played each other over 40 times. Such a rivalry, like Novak, Roger and also Rafael Nadal have something that is unique in the world of tennis. No generation before had that,” Becker said Wednesday.

“These are two extraordinary players, that is the match that all tennis fans all over the world want to see. Last year, they had two grand slam finals, now it’s a semi-final. But that doesn’t matter. It’s THE tennis match, and it’s the ultimate challenge for both of them.”

The German legend believes the contrast in their games is what adds spice to the rivalry.

“Their characters and styles couldn’t be more opposite. That’s what makes the whole thing so exciting. It’s a bit like (Bjorn) Borg and (John) McEnroe back in the day. Or me playing (Andre) Agassi. The best baseliner against the best offensive player. Every point can be crucial,” explained Becker, a six-time major champion.

“I think Federer is playing better today than two or three years ago. It’s phenomenal for a 34-year-old to deliver such a performance. And Novak has never played better than in the past 18 months.

“Now he is meeting Federer who is playing fabulous tennis. But that’s what we all want. That’s why tennis is so popular. You won’t find a better match than that right now.”

Federer, who is looking to make his first Australian Open final since 2010, has been stellar at the net this fortnight and will be attacking once again today. He is wary though of the challenge of playing up front against a great defender like Djokovic and knows he will not be as successful at the net against him as he has been all week.

“You would assume that these are not stats you can keep up. It’s okay. As long as you’re coming in on the right plays, it’s okay to be beat. You just got to ask the question time and time again, in my opinion,” said the Swiss world No3.

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Raonic beats Monfils to reach last four of Australian Open

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Milos Raonic.

The 13th seed with the powerful serve won 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours, 17 minutes to reach what will be his second Grand Slam semi-final after Wimbledon 2014.

Raonic also extended his unbeaten run this year to nine matches. He has not lost at tour level since going down to Rafael Nadal in the third round at Shanghai in October.

The purposeful and composed Canadian broke the Monfils serve three times and hit 47 winners, 17 with his cracking forehand.

Raonic, 25, lost to Roger Federer in his only other Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon two years ago and now gets another opportunity against four-time runner-up Murray on Friday.

“It’s a great challenge ahead of me. A challenge that I believe I have with myself to find a solution to,” Raonic said.

“A great fight that I am going to put on out there with all my heart, all my effort and hopefully I can make the most of my opportunity.”

Monfils was broken in the fourth game when his backhand was forced wide, and Raonic needed four set points before clinching the opening set with a thumping serve.

The Frenchman made more of a contest of it in the second set, capitalising when Raonic committed three forehand errors and a double fault to drop serve for 4-2.

Monfils, serving big, levelled the match on his first set point.

But the Canadian romped away with the third set, breaking in the opening game and grabbing a two sets to one lead with a smash.

Raonic stepped up and broke Monfils in the fifth game of the fourth set with a net winner and cruised to victory.

Raonic’s first win over the athletic Frenchman in three meetings comes after he also enjoyed his maiden victory over French Open champion Stan Wawrinka in the previous round.

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