After giving us a scare in his first round, Roger Federer was kind to his fans on Thursday evening. He soared to a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory vs. Victor Hanescu on Rod Laver Arena, remaining unfazed when a touring Prince William stopped by during the third set. It was a vintage Federer performance, hitting 52 winners to just 17 unforced errors and remaining unbroken throughout the 99 minute match.
Jim Courier did the on-court interview, asking Roger about Mirka (“still happy” he’s married to her), the twins (discovered Mirka was having them in Australia last year), and diapers (“24 a day. . .it’s intense.”) Then Jim made the Prince blush and the rest of us cringe when he asked Roger to welcome Will to his court, so to speak. Here’s Roger: “Ummmmm. Your Royal Highness, welcome to the World of Tennis. Thanks for coming.”
(Now we all know how to react if we’re ever put in a similar awkward situation. “YRH, welcome to the World of Tennis Blogging!”)
Prince William reportedly met with Serena Williams before taking a seat in the stands. He also chatted briefly with Roger after his match, though Fed was tight-lipped about it:
Q. What did he (Prince William) say to you?
ROGER FEDERER: What did he say?
ROGER FEDERER: He was happy he could make it. Yeah, I mean, I’m not gonna tell you everything he just said to me. You’ve got to have a little bit of a secret.
No, he looked really happy coming to a sports venue. I think he’s had a very busy schedule the last few days. He shook a lot of hands, and I knew mine was one more. From what I’ve heard, I think he met Serena and myself, and came to watch my match.
He said he was happy that I played a little bit longer, because the match could have ended even shorter. Yeah, so it was nice.
Q. Have you met other members of the Royal family before at Wimbledon?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, the ones on court at the trophy ceremony. Do those count for you, or not?
Q. Yeah. (Laughter.)
ROGER FEDERER: Because those you should know. I mean, but not…
Q. But chatty‑wise?
ROGER FEDERER: Chatty‑wise, no, I don’t recall. No. Chitchat, no. English breakfast tea? No, not yet.
Here’s media darling Nikolay Davydenko in the press room on Thursday after beating Illya Marchenko 6-3, 6-3, 6-0.
“It’s interesting. We’re not talking about tennis. We’re talking about my life. This is my first experience like this in the press.” (laughter.)
Yes, we’ve entered an alternate universe. A place where the press hangs on Kolya’s every word and demands answers to these pressing questions:
Q. Looking at your bio, I see you changed nationality when you were 18. Before you were Ukrainian. Can you explain a little bit why that happened?
Q. Would you love to write a book? Because you’re an interesting figure, a great character.
Q. Why are you always talking about money every time?
Q. Are you a vodka drinker?
Q. Is that (vodka) where you get your strength from?
Q. And what do you think? You are the favorite or one of the favorites of the tournament.
Click here to read Kolya’s answers.
Novak Djokovic struggled a little in his second round against Swiss Marco Chiudinelli, losing the first set 6-3 and looking bad doing it. He lost just five more games in the rest of the match but admitted to feeling “that little pressure” of opening round play. I thought this exchange was pretty interesting:
Q. A lot better players like yourself have a particular trademark shot or style: Federer, movement, say, forehand; Roddick, serve.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You tell me what’s mine, because I cannot figure it out. (Laughter.) I still didn’t figure out. I wanted to hear if you maybe know.
I don’t know. It’s hard to say. I like the backhand long line. I’m a baseline player and my game is based from that part of the court.
Here’s more from Nole – notice Sergio Tacchini’s literal representation of a warm-up suit:
Nole’s countrywoman, Ana Ivanovic, couldn’t find a way past Gisela Dulko on Thursday, though she fought off multiple match points in the third set, including some on her serve. Oh God, that serve. Slam a shot of Jägermeister every time Ana’s toss goes wacky and you’ll be in the ER before the first ball change. And here, my friends, is a smart press conference question (that’s not really a question but more like an observation):
Q. Seems like it’s been the same story: you fight, try to improve, and you get in these matches and you’re falling a little bit short.
ANA IVANOVIC: Yeah, I mean, it’s a process. You know, it’s hard. It hurts, I must say. For sure it will. But it’s a process.
I think I just have to be patient. It will take some time. I do feel better on the court. I’m playing much better. I feel like my old self. There are still some areas that are not there for me to rely on when ‑‑ moments I need them the most. Some matches it’s there, some not.
I just have to sort of keep my head up and try to improve, work. There are things I’m working on. Serve is a big part of that progress. I feel it’s been going well at times, but it’s just not consistent like I would like it to be.
It just might just take some time, and I have to accept that, although it’s hard.
As the reporter said: same old story, Ana.
Caroline Wozniacki, who won her match on Thursday vs. Julia Goerges, is joining Ivanovic (and Henin, Federer and Roddick) as an official face of Rolex. Danish paper Ekstra Bladet estimates the deal is worth approximately 4 million kroner (about $750,000 US by my calculation), plus perks:
History repeating itself? Marcos Baghdatis came from two sets down to beat David Ferrer on Thursday. The last time he won a match from two sets down? In the semifinals of the 2006 Australian Open against David Nalbandian. We know we’re getting one Baggy rematch: Marcos meets Lleyton Hewitt next for a replay of their epic 2008 third rounder. Let’s just hope it doesn’t end at 4:34 a.m. this time. (Though it was fun while it lasted.)
Speaking of late-night matches, 17-year-old Australian Bernard Tomic complained long and hard about being scheduled on Rod Laver arena after Henin vs. Dementieva on Wednesday night. The youngster’s five set match ended around 2:00am Thursday morning. Sure, he took 14th seed Marin Cilic to the brink in front of a cheering home crowd – but it was way past his bedtime:
“After 1am, 2am, for a 17-year-old to go out and play, it’s difficult,” Tomic whined after his match. “For the people I requested to play during the day, and it didn’t happen, I think it’s ridiculous.”
Yeah, why wouldn’t the tournament bend over backwards to accommodate the request of a 17-year-old wild card ranked 289 in the world? Gee, imagine what he’ll ask for when he gets inside the top hundred? A change to the cramping rule? A mandatory dinner break after the third set?
Tomic was called to a meeting with the Tournament Director and Tennis Australia officials to further discuss his comments, giving him yet another opportunity to embarr-ass himself in front of the press afterwards:
Q. Do you think that you over stepped the mark in terms of criticizing the scheduling?
BERNARD TOMIC: Well, look, I put in a request and that didn’t happen. But I mean, you know, I got picked for a night match primetime and it got a little bit late. After, when I finished and lost, which I was a point or two away from winning, I got a little bit upset and said those things.
You know, right now I’m thinking totally different. If they pick me ever again to play, I will play anyway.
Oh, how kind of you, Bernie! If the Australian Open ever gives you another wild card and then schedules you for prime time, you’ll actually deign to play! What a class act you are!
Q. Today’s discussion has been about what you said rather than how you played, which seems a shame. Do you feel like you kind of learned a lesson as far as just being a little bit more careful in your post‑match comments?
BERNARD TOMIC: No, not really. Haven’t learned anything. What’s there to learn? I just finished the match and I said a thing that I was probably ‑‑ what was I supposed to say? It was 2:00 in the morning.
No, hopefully next schedule will be during the day when I play.
Lleyton, the mantle has officially been passed.
The Williams sisters both advanced easily on Thursday. I’m especially thrilled about Serena, mainly because Carla Suarez Navarro is her next opponent and now I’m guaranteed that ESPN2 will show a little of that match. Other winners included Shahar Peer, Victoria Azarenka, Agnieszka Radwanska, Vera Zvonareva, Li Na, Daniela Hantuchova, and Samantha Stosur.
It was a day of five setters on the men’s side. Besides Marcos, survivors included Tommy Haas (over Janko Tipsarevic), Albert Montanes (over Stephane Robert), Nicolas Almagro (over Benjamin Becker), and Juan Monaco (over Michael Llodra). Things were considerably easier for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Fernando Verdasco, Lleyton Hewitt, and Mikhail Youzhny.
Click here for more Day Four results.