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Game, Set and Match: Three Tennis Films to Enjoy Ahead of the Australian Open

The 2019 tennis season is almost at an end, and that can mean only one thing: we are edging closer to the next edition of the Australian Open. The sport’s first major of the calendar year is always a phenomenal affair, with thousands of spectators descending on the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne to watch the best players in the world strut their stuff.

Indeed, the only thing missing from an Aussie’s perspective is a home winner: you have to go back to 1978 to see the last Australian to win a single's championship at the Open – that was Chris O’Neil, and you have to rewind two more years to find the last men’s singles champion from these shores in Mark Edmondson. The good news is that the bookies are giving our guys and girl half a chance in 2020: Ashleigh Barty, the French Open winner, is the joint-third favourite for the women’s singles and bad boy Nick Kyrgios is a respected outsider for the men’s at bet365 in the latest tennis odds for the Australian Open.

So, if the thought of an Aussie champion has got you interested, you can whet your appetite for the hard court action by catching a tennis-inspired film or two while you wait for the tournament to begin. In our opinion, here are three of the best for you to try.

#1 – Battle of the Sexes
With Emma Stone and Steve Carell taking the lead roles, you just knew that Battle of the Sexes was going to be a smash hit (pun intended!).

And the pair did a fantastic job of bringing this unique story to life. The narrative focuses on Bobby Riggs, a boastful former tennis champion who, at the age of 55, claimed that there was no female player on earth who could beat him.

Step forward Billie Jean King, the 12-time grand slam event winner who at 29 was still in the prime of her powers. She would – spoiler alert! – go on to humiliate Riggs in straight sets to claim the bragging rights and a pay cheque of more than $500,000.

#2 – Borg vs McEnroe
Here’s another non-fictional look at one of tennis’ most enduring rivalries.

Bjorn Bjork was the ice-cool, suave Swede who swept into the hearts of tennis fans with his classy displays; particularly on the clay courts of Roland Garros, where he won six times. John McEnroe, as you are probably aware, was the bad boy of the sport, forever with a bee in his bonnet at his opponent, the referee or anyone else he decided was worthy of his ire. The film focuses on their epic 1980 clash at Wimbledon, so if you’ve ever wondered if Shia LaBeouf (as McEnroe) can act his way through an iconic tennis match then here’s your chance.

#3 – 7 Days in Hell
If you are looking for fictional films involving tennis, high-quality fare is in short supply.

There’s the Richard Curtis-esque Wimbledon, starring Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst, or Woody Allen’s Match Point, in which the director’s neurosis is channelled through Jonathan Rhys Meyers as a former tennis ace who falls for the many charms of regular Allen muse Scarlett Johansson.

Both are so-so, and instead, we’re tipping up a rather more subversive and comedic take on the sport.

Taking inspiration from the gargantuan match at Wimbledon between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut that took ELEVEN HOURS to find a winner. This mickey-take comes from Lonely Island stalwart Andy Samberg, who takes on Game of Thrones’ Kit Harrington in the titular longest match. Watch out for a cool cameo from Serena Williams!

So there you have it: three tennis-based films that are sure to keep you entertained ahead of the Australian Open.

Published October 25, 2019

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