Going to try and play points today for the first time since surgery.... #rusty
Andy's latest Column - The Australian
Column taken from The Australian (17/1/13):
SHADOW boxing with Lennox Lewis? Standing on the starting blocks with the Thorpedo a lane over? Telling a one-liner that cracks Will Ferrell up?
As a mad sporting fan, something I’ve always done is imagine what it might be like to go up against the best of the best, to wonder what it is that makes them so special or what sort of sacrifices they made to top the world.
From my columns over the past few years, you’ll know how into boxing I am. I’ve YouTubed clips of old Muhammad Ali fights and try to take in as much live boxing as I can. A couple of Australian Opens ago, I even had the pleasure of having Ricky Hatton courtside in my box as I fought my way through to the final. One of the highlights of the off-season was meeting Lennox Lewis, an undisputed heavyweight champion during his time in the ring, for the British Sportsperson of the Year Awards night. It actually created a bit of a stir, which I’ll touch on first. Because I was training in Miami through December, I wasn’t able to make it back to London for the night, but knowing that I love my boxing, the BBC arranged to fly Lennox to Florida from Jamaica to present an award to me, there was a video link back to ceremony in London. The problem is, only I could hear what was happening back in England as Lennox didn’t have an earpiece, so when it came time for him to hand me the trophy, he stood there frozen. That’s something that never happened in the ring! It left me to jokingly present the trophy to myself and it probably looked a little awkward, I’m told there was a fair bit of reaction on Twitter but Lennox was great about it and even cracked jokes about missing his cue. I’d hate to be standing next to him if he got punchy, after all.
For me, though, the chance to meet Lennox was brilliant and it is the inspiration for this column. I was able to ask him about his time at the top, how he was able to motivate himself when he had defend his titles, what it took the “pugilist specialist”, as he was known, to stay at the top.
As a tennis player, I’ve been fortunate to meet famous actresses and actors, politicians and people from all walks of life, it can be a bit weird sometimes because quite often it isn’t planned and you have to think on your feet. Will Ferrell, who loves his tennis, is an example. I met Will during the US Open last year as he attends the tennis nearly every day. In that type of situation you can get a bit nervous, particularly as Will is one of my favourite actors, I spared him any of my jokes! But, I love meeting people that have made it to the top because I’ve always been fascinated in what makes them tick. I tend to ask a lot of questions of them and the great thing about those conversations is that you don’t have to hold back because both of you have a common understanding about professionalism and hard work and dedication needed to reach the top.
All sports are different in the way you have to train, of course, but if you want to get to the top in any sport, you need to be incredibly dedicated and work hard. That is why it was great to meet Ian Thorpe the other day. I obviously knew what a great swimmer he was and during last year’s Olympics he was on TV a lot in London commentating.
As every Australian would know, Ian retired at a pretty young age when he was the best swimmer in the world before trying to make a comeback. I found that interesting because you see it happen occasionally with some of the women on tour. Players like Martina Hingis achieved great success at a young age but were retired in their mid-20s. With Ian I asked him why he wanted to come back and how long it took him, as an elite swimmer, to get himself back into world-class shape. It is a long road for any athlete to get back to where they were after taking a few years off, but he said that if you want it enough and you are talented enough, it is possible.
Don’t worry though. I’ve no plans to quit yet, I’ve still got plenty of unfinished business on the court.
Today I play Joao Sousa from Portugal and as always, I’ll need to be on my game, particularly given it’s going to be a hot one in Melbourne. It is on days like today, when it’s predicted to reach 39C that I hope all the work I’ve done in Miami will pay off, because it is really challenging playing in that heat. The key is to make sure you’re rested. Yesterday I had a slightly lighter hit than usual and made sure I kept myself cool and relaxed and well hydrated. Hopefully it pays dividends today.