One of the most enjoyable aspects of summer in Melbourne is the Melbourne Open, the annual grand slam tennis event. Late nights glued to the television, enjoying the athleticism and mental capacity of these professionals, leaves us a bit blurry-eyed for work the next morning.
Watching the tennis can leave us feeling exhausted as the players play their cat and mouse game with each other. It's clear that it's just as much a mental game as a physical one. The level of concentration is high, evidenced by the tantrums which can occur when an audience member yells loudly once too often or the random moth flies a bit too closely to the nose of the player.
The attitudes and personalities of the players are also what makes it so enjoyable. Unlike team sports which have their own particular characteristics, the individual nature of tennis lets us gain some insight into what it is that makes these players tick. We get to know their little peculiarities, the things that they find annoying, the signs they are tiring or the signs they are just about to rev up and step up a few notches.
The game can change very quickly. One minute you can be about to go and put the kettle on thinking it will be another set when it can just end rather abruptly. This can leave us feeling a bit short changed, as if we've been robbed of the game we expected. At other times we think it's over because it's match point but it can continue and fortunes might even change for one of the players.
Each year there's some surprises, some new players who catch our eye, some older ones showing signs of wear and tear. We know that regardless of what happens there will always be another tournament. We just need to wait until next summer.