Tennis Players and Chefs Serve Up a Feast for Charity at Taste of Tennis


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By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 10, 2013) MELBOURNE, Australia – A service game of a different kind was on the menu for the tennis stars who attended the 4th Annual Melbourne Swisse Taste of Tennis event held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Thursday night.


Players joined with chefs from Melbourne’s top restaurants to serve up gourmet treats to A-list guests in the name of charity.


Many top 20 ATP and WTA players featured among the guests at the event which raised money for Diabetes Australia and the National Institute of Integrative Medicine. Top ten players Janko Tipsarevic and Richard Gasquet graced the red carpet, along with other notable players including Marion Bartoli, Marin Cilic, Kevin Anderson, Lucie Safarova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Ivo Karlovic.


Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt paired with celebrity chef George Colombaris to kick off the evening with a special presentation on stage before chefs and players combined to act as food servers, handing out small gourmet delights throughout the night.


Celebrities and chefs began arriving at the venue from 6.30pm sporting a wide variety of outfits based on the ‘elegantly casual’ dress theme. Many of the men came smartly dressed in jeans, while Marion Bartoli and the Rodionova sisters glammed up the red carpet in sky high heels and sleek dresses.


British Fed Cup captain Judy Murray is known to tweet her love of desserts to her 49,000 plus twitter following, and expressed her delight at the event’s offerings. She said “we’ve had a great time because to be able to go around and try small amounts of lots of different things is great. I think the trick is to pace yourself so that you have enough room left for desserts.”


Murray also spoke of her hope for the British girls at the Australian Open starting on Monday and said she is hopeful for a good run from Heather Watson and Laura Robson who have both recently broken into the top 50 singles rankings for the first time.


Swedish doubles specialist Robert Lindstedt enjoyed the social aspect of the evening and said it’s a welcome break from the day to day. “It’s great. It’s nice for the people to turn out where most of the guests are not players so it’s quite nice.” He said that on tour “we enjoy good food. We always try to find maybe not always the nicest restaurants because they’re a bit expensive but we always try to eat well so food like this is what we look for.”


Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic said he loves eating out at restaurants. “It’s something that I enjoy doing and also traveling around the world I have the chance to try different cuisines. But when I’m at home I like a home cooked meal and I’m really lucky that my wife cooks really well so I enjoy that as well.”


Silent auctions were held throughout the night to raise money for the elected charities. Items up for auction included signed memorabilia of international sporting stars such as Tiger Woods, Sebastian Vettel and Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as experiences including dining packages and the opportunity to have a personal chef serve you at your home.


The Norman Brookes Challenge Cup and the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup were also a popular attraction on the night, with guests lining up for the chance to hold and have a photo taken with the Australian Open championship trophies.

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her persona @JackattackAU.
All photos by Melinda Samson who runs the site Grand Slam Gal. Follow her on twitter @Grandslamgal.
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History Made in Gentlemen’s Doubles Final

WIMBLEDON – Amidst all the hullabaloo over Andy Murray’s advance to his first Wimbledon final, a British/Danish wildcard combination quietly marched through the doubles draw, ending up victorious in the Men’s Doubles Finals.

Jonathan Marray and Frederik Nielsen defeated the established pairing of Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau with a show of sportsmanship along the way, winning 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(7), 6-7(7), 6-3.

There are some interesting historical links (as if we have not heard enough of them already).

For example, Frederik Nielsen is the grandson of Kurt Nielsen, who was twice a runner up in the Wimbledon Men’s Final (1953 and 1955).

And then there is the magic number 36.

It was in 1936 when a British man lifted the Wimbledon Men’s Doubles trophy, and the partnership was the first to win the Double’s championship on a wildcard entry.

There was an outstanding display of sportsmanship by Marray in the third set tiebreak, where Marray admitted to having followed through a volley, just touching the top of the net.

It had not been picked up by anyone, but Marray owned up to it, although Marray/Nielsen went on to win that set.

Marray’s career had had its up and downs, and at times had thought of giving up.

Marray said: “I felt like I had a bit of unfinished business and things like that, so I’m more than happy to have made the decision to carry on.”

Marray felt that he and Nielsen could do well, having just missed out on tournament entry with Adil Shamasdin, but having partnered Nielsen previously and having had a good run in Nottingham just before the Championships.

He knew there was a wildcard option and chose Nielsen.

Both players were battling history.

Nielsen said: “I don’t think the fact that my granddad used to do well is going to make it even more special.

“I think the fact that it is just Wimbledon, it carries its name by itself pretty well”

Although having been picked to be on the Great Britain Davis Cup team back in 2004, Marray has not had an opportunity to play in any matches.

Britain has a good pedigree in the doubles currently with the established pairing of Ross Hutchins and Colin Fleming, and Marray’s sometime partner (2009, 2010) of Jamie Murray.

Marray has been keeping an eye on his rankings, and as Wimbledon champions, Marray and Nielsen are waiting to hear if they have gained a position in the World Tour Finals, at the O2, London later this year.

But the more immediate focus is to hope he will be able to get into better tournaments and improve his ranking further.


Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.



Wildcard team of Marray and Nielsen Capture Doubles Title

WIMBLEDON – Jonathan Marray ended 76 years of futility in the gentlemen’s doubles competition at Wimbledon for Great Britain. Britain’s Marray teamed with Denmark’s Frederik Nielsen to defeat Robert Lindstedt of Sweden and Horia Tecau of Romania 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-3 for the Gentlemen’s doubles title. The victory marks the first time since 1936 that a British man has won the men’s doubles title. The winning duo gained entry into the tournament as a wildcard.

Nielsen also made some history of his own becoming the first Danish man to win a major title in doubles. His grandfather Kurt was a Wimbledon men’s finalist in 1953 and 1955. Kurt also won the mixed doubles title with Althea Gibson at the US Open in 1957.

Marray commented on all of the history involved with the win, “Obviously we get bombarded with the facts every time we do an interview because, like you said, it is historical.  If you look at the history books, it hasn’t happened a lot, especially from a pretty small tennis country as Denmark in my case.

“It’s something we think about in the interviews when we get asked.  On the court I didn’t think about it at all, not a second.”

“I don’t think particularly because of my family history,” said Nielsen. “It means more because it’s Wimbledon.  Maybe because of my family history I have a different relationship with Wimbledon.  That’s possible.

“But I don’t think the fact that my granddad used to do well is going to make it even more special.  I think the fact that it is just Wimbledon, it carries its name by itself pretty well.

“I’m pretty sure that the fact that it’s just Wimbledon is enough for me.”


Marray is still in disbelief about the victory: “I’ve been saying to Freddy, I don’t feel any kind of different or anything.  I don’t know.  It’s just like winning another tennis match.  I suppose it will take time to sink in.

“When I see my friends and family and speak to them about it, over the course of a few days, a few weeks, I’m sure it will sink in a bit more.”


Marray talked about his expectations coming in to the tournament: “I thought we could do well because, like I said, I just missed out on entry with someone else to the tournament.  I played with Freddy the week before.  I know Freddy well, know his game, and thought we could play well together.

“After having a good week in Nottingham a couple weeks ago, I really thought we could do well here.  Obviously I didn’t think we could ever win it, but as the week went on we kept gaining confidence and coming through some tight matches.

“You know, your expectations kind of grow a little bit and your confidence grows, and obviously the end result is we got the win, so…”


With Andy Murray in the singles final on Sunday, Marray hopes that his win will inspire his fellow Brit.

“I’m sure he was watching,” Marray said of Murray. “He follows how all the guys do.  We’re friends and everything.  I’m sure he was watching it.

“Yeah, if it gives him any kind of inspirational help, I’m sure it would be good.  But I don’t know.”