With a week to go until the allplay Challenge at The Royal Albert Hall Tim Lovejoy has been down at The O2 arena drawing some inspiration from the best players in the world at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, as well as continuing his tennis in preparation for the big day...
What a week. Ages ago I got tickets for the Tuesday night session of the World Tour Finals and I couldn't believe my luck when I found out it was Federer v Nadal, two of the greatest players I'm ever likely to see. As for the match itself, it was a pure Federer masterclass!
It was brilliant for me to see Federer in action. As I've been learning tennis I decided to try and adopt the fluid, controlled style that Federer possesses and to use a single handed backhand a la Federer and Sampras. Whereas Nadal muscles it, Federer's whole set up is stylish and relaxed, it was really inspirational.
Anyway the whole event at the O2 is great, I really enjoyed it, I went and checked out the mini tennis courts in the fan zone, played with some kids. The fans in general are great, packed crowds waving flags, the players have so much support and it's a great atmosphere.
Federer enters the court at The O2 arena
The organisers put on a great show too, the music, the lighting, the tension, it must be so nerve-racking for the players. It's made me more nervous for the Albert Hall because the indoor event is just so intense and I've learnt there's nowhere to hide. In tennis, it's not like football where you can let your teammates do the work, it's all about you.
With our match next week being doubles I watched some of that too. I've realised it's very tactical and there's huge teamwork involved. It's fascinating to work out when you should be approaching the net, when you should switch and that's something Lorraine and I will try to do well.
Speaking of Lorraine, I'm not best pleased with her after she said on TV this week that she thinks I'm taking this allplay challenge too seriously. You can never take sport too seriously, I think I need to have a little chat with her about that.
Anyway I've been really enjoying my tennis this week, playing some doubles and working on my backhand and volleys. I've been sprinting down the court chasing balls and working on my approach to the net. Pete, my coach, says I remind him of Peter Schmeichel as I charge towards him waving my arms in the air. I've been practising my split step to make sure I'm still, not trying to volley the ball on the move.
Tim with coach Pete Griffiths
Anyway I'm in better shape than I was this time last week, feeling more comfortable on the court, I've learnt a lot from Federer and I'm looking forward to playing next week. But, ultimately, whatever happens on the day one thing is for sure, I’ll keep playing tennis because it’s fun, a great way to get fit and something I can play with my girls now and in the years to come.
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Read more from Tim next week as he looks back on the challenge process and reviews the big day.
Helping more people to play tennis
BTM's can call the box office at the Royal Albert Hall on 020 7070 4404 quoting your British Tennis Membership number to receive a 10% discount on tickets to the AEGON Masters Tennis.