I have been a frequent flyer with Emirates for nearly eight years. For three years after I moved back to England from Australia, I would fly back to Perth twice a year with Emirates. As a seventeen year old girl travelling over 8000 miles across the world all alone, they made me feel safe. Their planes were a welcome comfort and the lounge in Dubai a little haven for me to shower and eat cakes before the connecting flight to Perth. Not to mention their business class is out of this world amazing. These days I only fly with them once a year, but I still love them just as much.
So when Emirates invited me to the ATP Tennis World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena as their guest, there was only one answer I could respond with. A big fat yes. I adore tennis, it's one of the few sports I enjoy watching. This event was pretty special, Emirates were sponsors of the ATP World Tour, so not only would I be in the Emirates suite with full hospitality perks, we'd also have prime seats in the sponsor section of the arena. So I knew I had to take someone who would really fully appreciate the evening.
Cue Dan. He appeared briefly in this post, and he also came to the London Restaurant Festival with me a coupla years back. I also owe my ability to use chopsticks and love of Japanese food to him! He's a pretty huge tennis fan (understatement), and had never seen Djokovic play live, so we met after work on Thursday outside the O2, and queued up to get through security. We got through fairly quickly and walked round to the sponsor area, collected our passes, dropped off our coats, then headed up to the Emirates Suite.
Inside was a beautiful lounge with comfortable chairs, a large TV showing the tennis, and a balcony over-looking the practice courts. There was a bar which offered an excellent selection of wines - I particularly liked the Marlborough Sauvignon-Blanc, while Dan opted for a glass of red and later a dessert wine, and a fabulous sushi bar with a very friendly sushi chef who kindly told us what each sushi was.
We each chose a selection of sushi - I absolutely loved the soft shell crab sushi and seabass nigiri!
After finishing our sushi and having a good catch up and natter, a waiter came round and offered us a selection of hot dishes. I had the duck, which was absolutely perfect! It was incredibly tasty. We watched a bit of the doubles on the TV (we could have gone to the arena to see it, but we chose to stay for food instead - standard), and next up was dessert. I may have had three of the chocolate, salted caramel, and banana brownies and two pots of the passion-fruit and pomegranate mouse...woops.
Soon it was time to head to the arena for the Djokovic vs Berdych game. An Emirates representative led us in through a secret back entrance, and we were soon in the main strip behind the entrance to the arena seating. We went through a door and were shown down to our seats. The seats were ah-mazing. We were so close!
The match started and the atmosphere was electric! It really reminded me of an American sporting event, with the big screens and arena. Everyone was up and down in every break getting snacks and drinks, and it felt far more social and exciting than the likes of Wimbledon.
We watched Djokovic absolutely smash Berdych. It was all over within an hour and a half. Two sets in and Djokovic was one step closer to the final (which he won on Sunday). It was quite tense at times and I got really stressed about it (much to Dan's amusement), but really Djokovic played quite lazily - he's just on a whole other level to Berdych! My biggest regret from the evening? Not taking my 300mm lens because I couldn't be bothered to carry it around all day. Doh.
We had a brilliant and very fun evening, a huge thank you to Emirates for such a treat!
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