SAP Open - Day One

Gael Monfils takes the court during introductions. As the other players were
being introduced, I was mentally measuring the exact angles in hopes of
catching Monfils' head exactly between my camera and the spotlight. I missed
by a bit, so instead of a straight backlit silhouette, I got this picture that ended
up looking like it was made in natural sunlight, complete with golden lens
flare. Geometry was never my strongest subject...
© Matt Cohen 2011

The 2011 SAP Open kicked off Monday at HP Pavilion in San Jose.

I grew up playing tennis, and followed the game religiously until serve and
volleyers were banished from the tour. I can appreciate Federer and Nadal
slugging it out until they can crack a crosscourt winner, but I'd rather watch
McEnroe or Sampras placing insane drop shots at the net any day. So I
made the trek down to San Jose to shoot Sampras play Gael Monfils in an
exhibition match.

Exhibition matches are often fun to shoot because instead of the usual intensity,
players often joke with the crowd and each other. Or in the case of Monfils,
stealing my camera.

Sampras can't believe a Monfils drop shot... © Matt Cohen 2011

...and again. © Matt Cohen 2011

Monfils uses a ball to wipe sweat from his neck. © Matt Cohen 2011

Monfils crouches as he awaits a serve. © Matt Cohen 2011

Aside from the kidding, there were some nice points. Sampras lines up a forehand. © Matt Cohen 2011

Monfils slides clay-court style... © Matt Cohen 2011

...and then knocks a ball through his legs... © Matt Cohen 2011

...and finishes with a hefty dose of top spin. © Matt Cohen 2011

After Sampras-Monfils, Aussie Lleyton Hewitt beat Bjorn Phau 6-3, 6-3 © Matt Cohen 2011

Also on the bill for the first night was James Blake, who is currently on the
comeback trail. After a rocky start, he regrouped for a 7-5, 6-1 win over
qualifier Jesse Levine.
© Matt Cohen 2011