Hamburg, 12 September 2012 |

The sun is shining in Hamburg this morning as the boys head to practice at the famous Rothenbaum Stadium.

But as every local without exception is quick to tell them: “Don’t get used to it.”

They are warning the Australians to expect rain. Even if it isn’t forecast.

Sure enough it came down in bucketloads yesterday afternoon. But the powers that be have long been onto the local weather patterns.

You see, Rothenbaum Stadium has its own version of a retractable roof.

Don’t be thinking Rod Laver or a Hisense Arena style roof here, no, think more like a structure that looks like a giant spider web when it is open and a giant white tent canvas when it is closed.

Why does it even matter?

The Germans clearly believe they will get the best advantage over the visitors on a nice slow red clay court. The conditions become even more interesting if that court sits under a closed roof.

They are obviously banking on world No.25 Florian Mayer and young clay courter Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (who is being touted for the second singles spot) to be more at home on the dirt than Lleyton Hewitt and, in particular, Bernard Tomic.

But if they were looking for cracks in the Australian armour there are definitely none on show, with a buoyant captain Pat Rafter very pleased with the team’s progress on the practice court, Tomic in particular.

“I think everyone has been really impressed with how Bernie has been going,” he said.

”He has really put his hand up and done everything that has been asked of him on the court and is hitting the ball really well.”

The Australians have now practiced with the roof open and with it closed, in sunshine and in rain and are feeling more and more comfortable with their surrounds by the day.

Indeed as Hewitt fondly recalled, he has played a three-set semifinal epic loss against Rafael Nadal on this very Hamburg court and has some very positive memories of his form against the greatest claycourter of all time.

The stadium has a lovely traditional feature wall featuring artist sketches of past Hamburg tournament champions through the ages. And with the likenesses of greats Laver, Newcombe and even their own coach Tony Roche peering down on them every day, who could blame them for feeling very much relaxed in this environment. Roof or no roof.

Rothenbaum Stadium its roof open, Hamburg, 2012. TENNIS AUSTRALIA
Rothenbaum Stadium with its roof open, Hamburg, 2012. TENNIS AUSTRALIA
 Rothenbaum Stadium its roof closed, Hamburg, 2012. TENNIS AUSTRALIA
 Rothenbaum Stadium with its roof closed, Hamburg, 2012. TENNIS AUSTRALIA