Aussie Open: Two weeks of TV

The qualifying rounds are underway. Names that occasionally flash on the pro game’s radar are battling beneath a clement Melbourne sky for a spot in the season’s first Grand Slam. Alex Bogolomov Jr. Ryler DeHeart. Alex Kuznetzov.

In the dark and frigid northern hemisphere, I’m counting down the days. The Australian Open begins on January 18 (January 17 in my time zone), and ESPN2 plans more than 100 hours of coverage, with perhaps another 30 hours on the Tennis Channel.

Too much of a good thing?

I didn’t get cable TV until a few years ago. Apart from the finals at Wimbledon, Roland Garros, and the U.S. Open, maybe the semis, I didn’t see much tennis on TV. The Australian Open? I followed it on the Web. While tennis fans raved about the quality and drama of the semifinal throwdowns between Agassi and Safin and then Federer and Safin, I knew these matches only as hastily written wire copy and a jumble of match statistics.

No longer. I’ve got FIOS. During the Australian Open’s first week, I retrieve terabytes of data from my DVR, seeking out early round drama that will repay my decision to forsake everything but work and the occasional meal. Family? Can’t they see I’m watching Igor Kunitsyn?

In the second week, the draw thins, and the TV schedule shrinks, mitigating my risk of death. Then at last, the final. I’ll awake at 2 or 3 in the morning to watch it live. At the conclusion of the match, I’ll crawl back into bed, and sleep the day away. When I awake Monday morning, I’ll return to the land of the living.

For the moment, however, I’m working hard to get tournament fit, with plenty of eating, drinking, and slothfulness. I need to be ready for couch-bound hours on end of hard-core indolence.

Just four days and counting. I think I’ll be ready.

–A. Clarke

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