Opinion - If you hold a sports event outside in New Zealand, you're at the mercy of the weather. Last year it was rain that caused massive disruption with the ASB Classic women's tournament, and thankfully we've only seen a couple of brief delays due to that so far. However, Friday saw the wind play havoc with the players on centre court - and everyone found out pretty quickly that there's not an awful lot you can do about it.
A decent crowd rolled in to watch the afternoon session of a tournament that's thrown up its fair share of surprises. Unfortunately though, it didn't take long for the wind to pick and start tossing about the straw hats that many had picked up from the various drink vendors out the back.
Once the first match between Viktoria Kuzmova and Amanda Anisimova got underway, it didn't take long to see just what effect the conditions would have on tennis, either. Anisimova's first service lob got caught by the breeze and harmlessly clanked off her racket frame. The ball comically dribbled down the service box - on her side of the net. Once that happened, everyone knew this was going to be a testing day.
The ATP and WTA have recently introduced a service shot clock, first used at last year's US Open, giving a 25 second time limit to get the game back underway. It's been pretty well received by players and fans so far, but it was clear that enforcing it under these conditions wasn't ever going to be fair.
Defending champion Julia Goerges and Eugenie Bouchard would have been looking on with a fair bit of concern as Kuzmova and Anisimova struggled with the conditions. They were drawn to play each other in the next match, but it must have been pretty hard to get mentally prepared for what Goerges described as 'one of the toughest days'.
The wind swirled around the court, although there seemed to be a slight advantage serving from the southern end.
Of course, the chatter started up about just how much Stanley Street needs a roof on it. It's a free hit as far as columns on the tennis go, because you can bring it up more or less every year - but at least this time it isn't because we'd had to sit through the sort of rain that last year turned centre court into a swimming pool.
The much talked about roof and facility upgrade has been put on hold indefinitely, which is probably the only bad press the tournament has had in recent years. Stanley Street is a quaint venue with a good reputation among the players that come here. But that doesn't hide the fact that it in desperate need of some improvements, like new seats to replace the Yock Stand - which is actually just a set of concrete steps that require a cushion to sit on unless you don't mind your rear-end going numb after about 10 minutes.
For the record, Kuzmova and Goerges both won what ended up being three set matches. A relieved Goerges told us that despite the errors that the wind caused, it was a worthwhile win:
"Sometimes it was not so fun, because it looked so stupid. Overall I enjoyed the battle because it makes you better. Those matches are the ones you want before a Grand Slam."
Of course by the evening session, the wind had died down. Unfortunately, so had Venus Williams' fight by the second set of her match against Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu, who racked up an incredible 10 game win streak on the way to taking the match 6-7, 6-1, 6-3.