Fifty thoughts on Australian Open (cont.)
The other breakout player on the men's side was Milos (La Bat) Raonic, the hard-serving Canadian who reached Round 4. The aces were impressive. But so is the maturity. Read this, for instance. Lots to like here.
Not sure what to make of Petra Kvitova. A fine performance reaching Week Two for the second time in three Majors. But I see big ball striking, a lefty look and not much else.
One of you had a great line about Venus Williams' dress: "Look at it this way. She doesn't have to worry about anyone else showing up in the same attire."
The Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of tennis (you can decide who's who), Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi brokered a tentative peace and launched a reunion tour. Their run to the final included a near brawl with a Spanish team, a dispute over the intellectual property of the word "vamos," the sharing of a towel (perhaps because Federer stole them all) and tacit acknowledgements that, endowed with the wisdom of age, they ended their partnership too soon. I see a Bollywood screenplay coming.
Speaking of shaky efforts, Ernests Gulbis flames out early. As a Twitter follower duly noted, "No more complaining about the WTA rankings when Gulbis hasn't won a match at the last six Majors and is No. 23."
As far as disappointments in the women's draw, lots to chose from, not least the former No.1s Dinara Safina, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic, all of whom were dispatched early -- in Safina's case, by the humiliating score, 6-0, 6-0. But what about Sam Stosur who, it seems, hasn't been the same player since losing the French Open final?
What a performance by Francesca Schiavone. Some of us (self included) thought she'd pull an Andres Gomez and disappear after the late-career highlight of winning the French. Yet she's still going, riding her delightful game to the threshold of the top five.
Seeded 23rd, the winsome Svetlana Kuznetsova remarked: 'The first thing it makes me think of is Michael Jordan." If that was a stretch, she did herself proud in the match of the tournament, a near five-hour classic against Schiavone. Kuznetsova blinked first. Still, expect big things from her this year. She's in shape, motivated and still among the better athletes going.
We all owe a collective danke schoen to Andrea Petkorazzi for helping make tennis entertaining. It's a personal decision, but I suspect more athletes could benefit from the Petkovic approach and realize that when they have fun with their craft, their performance ultimately benefits. And a few weeks ago, we speculated on how her victory dance routines were going over in the WTA locker room. After advancing past Venus in that unfortunate 6-minute retirement match, Pam Shriver asked Petkovic to offer a funny routine. Petko explained that there was nothing funny about the moment. What's the German word for "class?"
Pigs get fat; hogs get slaughtered. How about the bloke who put down $1 million on Rafael Nadal to beat David Ferrer. Oops. Had Nadal won, the payoff would have been $100,000. Pity the guy, but I like stories like this inasmuch as they dissuade folks from betting on tennis!
We have unconfirmed reports that officials from Guantanamo have audio files of the Franklin Templeton jingle being used for extracting intelligence from suspected terrorists. "OK, we'll tell you everything. Just don't start with that Longines it's-time-to-give-a-little-of-yourself piano tinkling."
Moles in New Haven tell us that Amy Chua's kids play tennis, but she does not bring her "Tiger Mom" sensibilities to bear when they are on the court.
An early candidate for best video of the year: Aggie Radwanska flies off the handle (credit goes to awesome reader Stewbop on that one). This clip saved her, though. Otherwise we'd be talking about a highly suspect injury -- "dubious" as one tennis mother might put it -- "time-out" that helped her win that match over Kimiko Date Krumm.
Until Maria Sharapova can fix her serve -- or, not coincidentally, her shoulder -- it's hard to see her advancing to the "business end" of Majors. We've said before that the serve is the ultimate foundation for a player's entire game. You can't serve so erratically and expect to win seven matches. (Speaking of Sharapova, perhaps she'll now show her face at a Nets game. Her fiancé, Sasha Vujacic, is getting some minutes as the team's backup swingman. Sharapova, though, isn't even the Nets' most significant other. Kris Humphries is, of course, the boyfriend of Kim K.)
That said, if you don't have the "support system" to back a big serve, you're not going far either. Here we trot out Roddick, who fell in Round 4 to Stan Wawrinka.
When Tennis Channel aired Wozniacki's third-round victory at the Australian Open, announcer Bill Macatee fielded a text message from a "Chris in Florida" who wondered if the top-ranked Danish player "feels like the No. 1 player in the world, never having won a Grand Slam?" Lindsay Davenport asked, "That wouldn't be the Chris from Florida who is a Grand Slam winner herself, would it?" It turns out it was former No. 1 Chris Evert, who was watching the match on television.
Roberto Luongo, Panthers get best of Cory Schneider, Devils
Ducks score six goals in the 2nd period to beat Avs in wild game