Plenty of intrigue in tennis final despite lack of stars

2:16 pm on 12 January 2019

Opinion - It's coming to the end of a fortnight of tennis here at Stanley Street, and despite the men's final four being bereft of any seeded players, they delivered a final full of intrigue.

Cameron Norrie

Cameron Norrie Photo: Photosport

Kiwi-turned-Brit Cameron Norrie outlasted German Jan-Lennard Struff in an exhausting looking match. It would have been exceptionally tough for Struff, who played a three-set quarter final last night and then followed it up with a game of doubles. The crowd is definitely on Norrie's side and he's barely put a foot wrong all tournament.

Norrie will play the American Tennys Sandgren, who courted controversy last year when it was revealed he had some, let's say, outside the box political views. These came to light during his dream run to an Australian Open quarter final last year, but instead of fading back into obscurity he has now got a chance to win his first ever ATP title.

Bringing up his Twitter endorsements of Pizzagate and alt-right figures has been strictly off limits this week, admittedly because in press conferences Sandgren comes off as a friendly guy with interesting answers to the tennis-related questions lobbed his way. To delve any deeper would probably see the whole thing shut down by the ATP people present.

The knowledge gleaned from players over the whole fortnight has been illuminating for New Zealand media used to dealing with rugby players. Political views aside, tennis pros have a much more developed relationship with the people that question them post-match, and the answers they give are generally far less-scripted and more thoughtful than the ones you're going to get underneath Eden Park.

That is not to say it's always been plain sailing, though. Long cool down periods have kept us waiting long into the night, so much so that a decision was made to intercept Venus Williams as soon as she left the court last week.

Meanwhile, fans have filed through the main gate and been greeted with bars, food and even a pool. It's a fun mix of true tennis fans and people there for fun day in the sun. Organisers have done well to accommodate both.

There's been a big uptake in people simply coming in to watch the action out the back on beanbags in front of a big screen. Like I said last year, if you've finally sparked up the courage to ask someone out on a date, you could do a lot worse than taking them to an evening at Stanley Street.

Most importantly, the sun has been shining for the whole two weeks and it has made for an enjoyable experience. It hass been a sell-out for the business-end of the tournament, despite the number of big names knocked out early.

So now it's on Cameron Norrie to make sure the 2019 ASB Classic has the ending the crowd are hoping for. In a perfect world, he would still be representing New Zealand. But, like Sandgren's Twitter history, we can all just forget about that for now.

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