AND THEN THERE WERE TWO
Bren Hester graduated from the Ravensbourne School of Television in London in 1989 and specialized as a sports event television producer. He has been associated with professional tennis since 1997 attending over 170 ATP World Tour events and 30 Grand Slams for International Television, ESPN, NBC and The Tennis Channel. He lives with his wife and two children in Rome although estimates spending around fifty days of the year in an aircraft.
Rotterdam (Holland) – Waking up in Rotterdam I was immediately pre-occupied with the next stop on the ATP World Tour in Memphis, Tennesse. This phase of the season is decidedly challenging, three back to events in three different countries in as many time zones. It’s like being a player and from that point of view I’m lucky enough to contribute to each final, if only the prize money was the same!
Television Broadcasting involves complex planning and preparation with numerous fine details to address, careful consideration for budget, crew selection, technology and logistics. With so many TV rights holders broadcasting live and with considerable investment attached to commercial airtime, failure is not an option.
Despite the rather grey, wet and miserable weather in Rotterdam the first semi final of the day was greeted by a warm and lively crowd and their applause welcomed the ever popular Jo-Wifried Tsonga and two time finalist Ivan Ljubicic onto centre court.
It was the Frenchman who made the better start, taking advantage of the walkover he had received in the previous round and with an early break to lead 3-1 he maintained his advantage taking the first set 6-4. Ljubicic was clearly struggling with his serve and his three set quarter final encounter the day before was perhaps not the best preparation to challenge the eighth seeded Frenchman.
In the second set Ljubicic began to find some rhythm and with an improving serve broke to lead 3-1. Serving for the set at 5-3, Tsonga broke back to love and with a fine service game to follow a tiebreak inevitably was to decide the set. The Ljubicic forehand tended to let him down and with Tsonga playing the bigger points better when he needed it most and won the tiebreak and the match, 6-4, 7-6.
Some of the world’s most famous entertainers have graced the stage of the AHOY Arena, Lady Gaga performed here just seven weeks ago and the theatrical lights accompanying her Monster Ball tour seemed to have been left behind when top seed Robin Soderling and Viktor Troicki entered the stage for a chance to compete in Sunday’s showpiece final.
The Swede raced away to a 4-1 lead and the defending champion seemed destined to be back in the locker room before the awaiting doubles semi finalists had their tennis shoes and socks on. Troicki who is no stranger to the big stage fought hard to get back into the match and managed to get back on serve at 5-5. Soderling won his service game to love and left his opponent to serve to stay in the set. The top seed has a habit of turning the screws at just the right time and another break of serve earned him the first set 7-5.
In the second set the reigning champion’s powerful ground strokes earned him three break points at 4-3 although Troicki managed to defend them and stay in the tournament . With the Serb serving at 4-5 it was the Swede that once again played the bigger points that much better and was in his second ATP World Tour Final of the year.