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Written by Aaron Brigatti  
Saturday, 08 July 2006

I was very fortunate to obtain complimentary Corporate Hospitality tickets to go to Wimbledon, SW19, on Monday, 3rd July 2006, and boy was it a fantastic day!  Not only was the trip memorable (it was my first time to see tennis at Wimbledon!!), but the weather was very warm (it went way over 30C!!) and the choice of matches were as good as I could have expected!

As I was obtaining the tickets from American Express, the official card of the Wimbledon tournament, I was able to get entry to the grounds, entry to the American Express hospitality suite and to top it all off centre court tickets!!  Amazing stuff hey?  Very fortunate!

The three matches, that were scheduled for Monday, 3rd July, were also the best three matches I could have hoped for...(okay, apart from the finals!)...

Miss Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) - 15th Seed - hubba, hubba!
versus
Mrs Justin Henin-Hardenne (Belgium) - 3rd Seed

Marcos Baghdatis (Cyprus) - 18th Seed
versus
Andy Murray (Great Britain) - Unseeded

Roger Federer (Switzerland) - 1st Seed
versus
Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) - 14th Seed

My report for the three games follows:

First Match Report:
I have always been following the success (and failure) of Hantuchova.  She is an attractive but intelligent player - and has plenty of potential, and is at the tender age of 23.  She gained her form in recent years in the mixed doubles, with Leos Friedl as her player partner in the mixed doubles in 2001.  This was the time when I first saw the potential within this young (at the time) player!  She hasn't done badly over recent years, although she did have a spell of physical problems during 2002-3, but has battled through and is getting back to top-form.  She has had a few challenging matches in this tournament, but coming through to the forth round ain't bad at all.  Her opponent is in her best form yet, and I was expected to see a fantastically fought match.  This wasn't to be, and Henin-Hardenne played and won the match comfortably in straight-sets. (6-3; 6-1)

Second Match Report:
After a superb performance on Saturday knocking out a US-seeded player, Andy Roddick, I was expecting another great match today.  However, physically and mentally Murray was simply not there, and the match was a bit of a one-way performance.  Having said that Baghdatis played superbly and comfortable won the game in straight sets.  (6-3; 6-4; 7-6 (7-2))

Third Match Report:
This was a must-see match.  Seeing the awesome power and match-play of the number one seed, in all of the glory.  And Federer certainly did deliver.  Point-after-point, game-after-game, this was a truly amazing sight of power and performance.  Berdych was not threat to the Federer game, and it was another straight set victory for Federer.  Awesome!!  (6-3; 6-3; 6-4)

In summary:
What else can I say?  It was an amazing experience, one I probably won't forget for a while!  I never actually had the urge to come to SW19 to watch the tennis or experience the atmosphere before, but this sure changed my perception!  The tennis, the atmosphere and the whole experience, especially with the addition of the corporate hospitality was fantastic.  I must thank the AXP-GNS New Business Partnerships team for providing me this opportunity to experience the moment!  Thank you!!

Talking about the hospitality the pick-up and return chauffeur driven car from London Victoria was very convenient, without the hassle of the commute to SW19 nor parking once there.  The pre-pass preparation was great, so no need for queuing (for 2hrs+!!).  The exclusivity access to the AXP Hospitality Suite, a privilege.  It was air-conditioned, plenty of refreshments during the whole day (of course Pimm's was the drink-of-choice!!!  Very nice, apart from that the fact that they forgot the mint in the Pimm's!!!), the food (lunch and afternoon tea) was great, and more than anything the service was superb.  In fact, those ladies were the people that never seem to get thanked for what they do; they are part of what makes the hospitality work so well!  The smiles, the pleasant and attentive service and the cheerful nature of the staff!  (In fact one of them (I believe her to be the team leader/manageress) was actually very attractive too - very friendly, very pleasant, very nice(!!) - ho-hum, just made it even more enjoyable!!  Couldn't really do anything, as I was there in a formal setting - then again!!!). 

Anyway, hopefully I get some further luck in the coming years ahead, if not, who-knows, I might queue up like any other fan and wait my turn next year? :)

The photos taken during the day are here

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