Before we get into Sunday’s action in Melbourne, I wanted to mention the Tomic vs. Nadal match, which was a lot of fun. (Sam Stosur’s match vs. Petra Kvitova was not so entertaining – it wasn’t nice to see the pressure come crashing down on the hometown favorite in that second set.)
I think we’re all noticing the emergence of the third generation at this tournament. Guys like Raonic (who’s playing Ferrer today in the fourth round) and Tomic make Rafa and Nole the grizzled veterans on court – and Roger’s now the granddaddy, playing petanque with old cronies Roddick, Nalbandian and Hewitt. I was hating on Tomic, before now, since he’s had quite a bit of bad press. But I enjoyed his game and his willfully non-nonchalant attitude on court. Like Darren Cahill mentioned, he’s a bit of an enigma. And for now, I’m intrigued.
Rafa still got through in straights: 6-2, 7-5, 6-3, a good victory considering he’s still under the weather. I noticed his shirt and shorts were soaked through with sweat, but I just assumed it was a wardrobe malfunction with Nike’s Dri-fit technology or whatever:
Q. You seemed to be sweating a lot early on, changed your shirt a few times. Were you feeling okay out there?
RAFAEL NADAL: I was perfect when I started the season in Abu Dhabi playing. I was playing perfect and I was feeling perfect physically. In Doha, I had that problem. I wasn’t feel very well. Have fever and these things. Seems like after that my body is still not perfect. I am sweating more than usual. I am more tired than usual when I’m playing. That’s what happen right now. That’s the true.
No sweat: Stanislas Wawrinka defeated Andy Roddick 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday night in Melbourne. The result wasn’t too surprising, given how well Stan’s been playing this past week. Scary good. Which reminds me of that old/recent trend, from a few years ago: the surprise Aussie Open finalist. (Baghdatis, Gonzalez, Tsonga) Do I dare think Stan may be the latest incarnation?
Roger better watch out – his Olympic doubles partner is just a wee bit more dangerous than Gilles Simon and Tommy Robredo. And it seems the second Swiss is working on a secret weapon, too:
Q. I noticed training this afternoon you spent a lot of time playing left handed. Are you naturally ambidextrous, or is that just something you work on? STANISLAS WAWRINKA: No, not really. I’m practicing a little bit because I make a bet with a friend in the summer. I need to play a match against him with my left hand, so that’s why I’m practicing every day.
4:44! I was exhausted after watching Svetlana Kuznetsova and Francesca Schiavone battle for almost five hours, and I started watching sometime mid-way through the last set. Francesca finally scraped through to victory: 6-4, 1-6, 16-14.
Kuznetsova gave a great press conference afterwards. Cold comfort, I know:
Q. There was a crucial point where she could have won the point and ran into the net and you won the point. Were you confident after that? That seemed to give you a bit of a roll.
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Which point are you talking about? At some stage I was like, what’s the score? Who’s serving? I was like, what’s going on anyway here?
I had no clue sometimes. It was so hard to count. I was like, who is up? She? Me? It’s really hard to say which point you’re talking about right now. We had some good points at the net.
Q. Did you try to beat the record of Mahut and Isner?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I tried, but apparently didn’t work. She finish it earlier than I thought.
And after the 4:44 hour fourth round Schiavone’s ranked a best-ever No. 4 in the world.
Q. How do you feel to be the No.4 in the world today, top of your career, like only one Italian player has been in the past?
FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: Si. Big emotion. They just wrote to me an SMS to say, Thanks. You are No.4. I say I don’t know if you feel it, but I feel really in emotion, big, big one.
Roger needed four sets to get past Tommy Robredo. I’m not going to dwell on it. If you want some closure, click here to watch a great interview with Roger Federer and Mats Wilander on EuroSport (thanks, Alexandre, for the link!)
Another big name bites the dust. Maria Sharapova lost badly to the rising Andrea Petkovic on Sunday: 6-2, 6-3. She gave some thoughtful answers in her presser. I hope she loves the game as much as she says, because we need her at the top of the game.
Q. No. I’m just asking you if you suffer from not being anymore at the top where you were, if it’s really painful, or since you have already reached many, many goals you are anyhow satisfied?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think I can say there are a lot of more painful things in life than losing a tennis match. I think that’s a pretty realistic thing to say. I think there’s a lot more in life than hitting a tennis ball.
We can talk about so many cases around the world. I think we’re all pretty fortunate to be able to do what we do, win or lose. Obviously wins bring you a lot of smiles and laughter, but this is sport.
Q. Still, it’s your career…
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s your career and your choice. I have achieved, like you said, done many things in my career. I’ve won many matches and been No. 1 in the world, and also had an opportunity to say that I’ve had enough.
You know, I could do many other things in my life. I have enough money; I have a great family around me. But when I was away from the sport, everything I wanted to do was to wake up in the morning and not put my ballerinas on, but to put on my Nikes and go out there and run and play.
When it was taken away from me, I realized how much I loved it. When you go through it every single day, you almost forget a little bit. You take a step back and, you know, I miss this. I really wanted it.
If you’re not in the draw, you never give yourself an opportunity to be a champion.
Caroline Wozniacki met her toughest opponent so far this tournament – at a wild animal park:
Q. What is the most exciting thing you’ve ever done? If it’s illegal, we promise not to tell anyone.
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Uhm, embarrassing or just…
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Exciting. I’ve done a lot of exciting things, I think. The most exciting? There are some things I just can’t tell because it wouldn’t look good (smiling).
Well, the other day I went to the park and I saw this kangaroo lying there. If you’ve seen, I’m playing with the thing on my shin here. It was lying there. So I wanted to go over and help it out. As I went over to it, it just started to be aggressive and it actually cut me. So I think that’s pretty exciting. But I learned my lesson and I just started running away.
Q. You went to help it out? You thought it was dying or something?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I thought I was going to be nice and try to help it out because it was just lying there. I thought maybe it needed some help. I wanted to take it up and maybe bring it somewhere.
Q. It was a baby?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: It wasn’t big. It was a baby. I just wanted to help it out. I found out that I shouldn’t do that.
Q. Scratch you pretty good?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Yeah, it scratched me pretty well. That’s why I’m playing with this tape on my shin.
Q. Did you go to the doctor?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Yeah, I went to the doctor. They cleaned it and everything. They wanted to do a few stitches. I said, There’s no way you’re going to do stitches. I just told them to glue it together. I’m playing with the Steri Strips. It’s looking fine. So everyone is happy.
Q. You’ve done a lot of boxing. Did you think about boxing the kangaroo as it took a swing at you?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I’m sure that was ready for some boxing. I like boxing.
It looked so cute. But once it started scratching me, I was a coward and I run away.
Anyone find Wozniacki vs. Kangaroo on youtube?
Ah ha! Here it is: