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The Hurlingham Club, Ranelagh Gardens, London SW6 3PR
The venerable river-side venue again played host to the BNP Paribas Tennis Classic this year. We slapped on the SPF and went to check out the final warm up before Wimbledon.
Sitting a few metres away from a topless Rafael Nadal isn’t the worst way to spend your day. Throw in an afternoon at one of London’s most prestigious members’ clubs (the waiting list is half a lifetime) and I’m a happy girl.
Having already been excited about the day’s line-up, the last-minute news that ‘Rafa’ was playing had the 600-strong crowd practically choking on their cucumber garnishes.
After a quick nose around the Georgian estate’s immaculate grounds – we couldn’t help stopping to watch an intense game of bowls – we took to our seats for an afternoon’s tennis, MC’d by former UK No.1 and TV presenter Andrew Castle.
The Tsonga/Robredo match turned out to be the most entertaining, with both players really gunning for the win. The Spaniard surprised us with victory. Speaking of Spaniards, it was pretty special to see Nadal, but the world number five clearly had his knee injury in mind and, despite the final victory against Kei Nishikori, only just squeezed through.
Afternoon tea in the Hurlingham Suite rounded off the day. Traditional sandwiches were served in wicker baskets, along with bite-size fruit cakes and macaroons. Oh, and scones – lots of scones.
Best bit: The garden party vibe was a welcome change from stampeding crowds.
Room for improvement: Nadal's last minute appearance meant afternoon tea wasn't served until six - cue stomach rumbles.
Sponsors: BNP Paribas, Stella Artois, Evian and Lanson, to name a few.