An interview with Georgina Chang, the ESPN-Star Sports presenter who those of us who watched Hopman Cup on livestream became very familiar with (I think she hosted that "Access Hollywood"-type tennis show).
Some juicy excerpts:
What do viewers miss seeing on TV that you’re privy to?
Off-cam, Federer is very pleasant. He will talk about anything and make humorous comments. He’s very personable.
Nadal is polite. Hampered by his lack of English proficiency, he’s quite shy and often looks to his manager for translations. Nadal is more serious when the camera rolls.
Sharapova is cold and unfriendly. Once she just stood and glared at me as we waited for the cameraman to frame the shot. All I had said to her was “Hi, Maria!” But she was suddenly all smiles and girly when the camera rolled.
Ana Ivanovic is simply lovely. She’s always breathless, smiling and talks a mile a minute. I just want to be her BFF!
At Wimbledon two years ago, I remember seeing Venus Williams canoodling in a quiet corner with her boyfriend Hank. They hadn’t gone public yet, but they would be standing close together talking.
You’re a huge fan of Federer. Has any other player left a big impression on you?
Rod Laver is my biggest legend to date. Despite his huge aura of importance, he was happy to sit down [for an interview] at impromptu notice. He had a soft spot for Nadal’s left-hand advantage for obvious reasons (Laver is left-handed). He was very obliging and offered extremely insightful advice.
Players like Andy Murray and Djokovic play extremely well but don’t necessarily find favor with spectators. What are they actually like among their peers, entourage, with the media?
Humility is not an adjective Novak is associated with. He is extroverted, loves the attention, and sometimes even seems to thrive in negative publicity. I can’t wait to see how he’ll work his “public relations” with the vocal Aussie fans this time.
Andy Murray doesn’t try to sugar up the media or the fans. However,
last year he told me his PR company had encouraged him to do more “fun”
interviews to improve his image.
Give examples of the most peculiar behavior you’ve seen from tennis pros off-court.
Llyeton Hewitt refuses to be interviewed by ESPN and most other American media. This was after that fracas with James Blake at the US Open where Americans accused him of being racist.
Andy Roddick refuses to be interviewed by any media other than ESPN and other American media.
Ivanovic likes to have the same breakfast from the same shop before all her matches.
What’s the worst you’ve seen of players who act like royalty?
Maria Sharapova—she is arrogant, unfriendly...I know plenty of her male fans are hissing at this, but her likability rating on the tour among players, officials and now the media is very low. She’s probably got a nice side, but doesn’t feel it’s necessary to be decent to people in general.
Who, on the other hand, are the most down-to-earth?
Most of them are terrific, very friendly. Ivanovic is the friendliest and most smiley. Federer is...professional, patient and gives sincere and personal answers.
The Croatians and Serbians (Ivan Ljubicic, Mario Ancic and Djokovic,
Janko Tipsarevic) give profound and meaningful answers. Sometimes I
need time to gather myself together afterward.
Marat Safin is full of dry humor and exudes such sexiness that I get all giggly around him.
I'm pretty sure I could only have the job for a day, seeing as how I would never get another interview with anyone given my inappropriate questions. But it would be an epic day.
Boyfriend Jon's got a new mailbag up. And this was my favorite bit:
Rod Laver Arena
Bepa vs. Mono (NB 12:30pm)
A-Rod vs. Nole (NB 3pm)
Dinara vs. Dokic (7:30pm)
Crazy Elf vs. Fed
"And also, you know, the 24th of December, everybody was leaving Las Vegas because it was Christmastime. And Agassi came to say hi to me, and I was speaking with him. I don't want to say what he told me, because that's secret (smiling). But really helped me so much. I was speaking with him two hours before he left for the mountains. He was leaving with Steffi to enjoy Christmas.
You know, he was going to ski. I love ski. I was there in the gym working hard, so I was a little bit jealous. But I was just thinking to be ready for the season and start good the year. You know, right now I'm so happy that I took that decision to go to Las Vegas and practice with Gil."
-- Fernando Verdasco, on his decision to train with Gil Reyes in Vegas in December
But, again, if I say that I'm sick and it affected me, I know it's going to be like, Well, he's making excuses for losing. I don't feel that was the reason why I lost. I definitely did have my chances, and he played too well."
-- Andy Murray, on whether being sick contributed to his loss to Fernando
Our boy Fernando has clearly grown a pair and pulled off the biggest upset so far on the men's side, beating Muzz in convincing fashion in five sets, 26 61 16 64 63. Fernando just played tight, controlled, aggressive tennis. Why he hasn't ever played like this before is beyond me but it was a joy to watch. He served big when he needed to, and that big forehand jerked Muzz around the court.
As for Andy, he looked at an utter loss as he tried to figure out a way to win. The feeling of watching this match for me was the same as watching the Ana/Kleybs match. Muzz had so many chances to turn this around and he didn't. On the big points, Fernando played well. And in the end, Fer just wouldn't go away. He seized his moment and stepped up.
Is it weird that I'm, like, really proud of Fernando? Good boy. He'll face the winner of Blah/Jo, which, if he keeps up his level, means he's got a good shot of making the semis.
As an aside, immediately after Fer won all I could think of was Ana on holiday somewhere talking to Scott or her Mom, trying to figure out if it would be appropriate to call/text to congratulate him. Made me chuckle.
At the same time on Rod Laver Arena, Rafa was taking a whoopin' stick to Gonzo. Utter destruction. He won, 63 62 64, and seriously, it wasn't that close. Rafa's now the only player left in the draw that hasn't dropped a set. He's got Gilles next.
Q. Dinara said yesterday that you were probably the player to beat; you were probably the favorite of this tournament. How do you look at that? Do you find it kind? Is it a bit more embarrassing maybe?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: I'm the favorite? I don't think so, because Dinara herself looks like she's in a good shape. She's made the biggest improvement since last year, so she's probably the favorite to win.
But there is still Serena, and there are a lot of good players here. It's going to be a tough competition. I mean, I'm not thinking who's the favorite; I'm just trying to take one match at a time and be focused and play my best.
Q. Do you like to be in that position? Is it a reward to your game? Do you look at it differently saying you don't want the pressure?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: It doesn't make any difference to me, because I am the only one who is going on the court and play. It's all about me, not about anyone else putting pressure or not. I don't feel any pressure at all.
Q. A lot of people other than Dinara have picked you to win here before the tournament. Is it comforting to know that people still believe you will win a major?
ELENA DEMENTIEVA: I think it's always nice people to believe in you. And there is no pressure. It's just nice to realize that you're one of the few who can do it.
So for me it's just ‑‑ you know, I don't even think about it. I just play my game.
Q. Did you retape your right ankle yourself?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Left.
Q. The trainer retaped one.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Right. I did the left.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I can do it all. I cook, I clean, I write, I make jokes, I tape (smiling). You know, I just pretty much do everything.
Q. Do you do windows?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm an HP girl, Hewlett Packard.
Q. Washing windows.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, windows (laughter)? I thought it was a trick question.
Q. Obviously good early on beating Andy Roddick when he was 10 years old. Any hopes of a charity rematch?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think it's necessary to have a rematch. You know, I won. I was clearly the better player. I beat Roddick, you know. Andy Roddick, yeah (smiling).
There's really no need to have a rematch. It's unimportant [sic] now.
Q. The score speaks for itself. What was the score?
SERENA WILLIAMS: 6‑1. The score absolutely speaks for itself. He always jokes, Rematch, rematch. But I don't even have time for a rematch (smiling).
Q. What was Andy like as a 10‑year‑old kid? Was he a brat or a good kid?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, he was a sweetheart. He was so sweet and he was so small. His older brother played really good tennis, John Roddick. He was always John Roddick's younger brother. I was kind of Venus' younger sister.
I just remember he was a really sweet kid. You know, he could never really beat me (laughter).
Q. Did you hear about the dump‑truck‑pressing comment he made?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Andy's always exaggerating. I was so small for my age. He was small, too. But he just got jealous because my body was more fit and that my biceps are probably still bigger than his (laughter).
Andy is incredibly jealous of me. You know, I just don't know why. I can't blame him really (smiling).
Q. His exact comment was that, at the time he had to run around in the shower to get wet while you were bench pressing dump trucks.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Again, I'll have to talk to him, because he clearly didn't have to run around. He wasn't that thin. Andy's a fit guy.
Like I said, he was always trying to get muscles like mine, get more developed. I guess it still hasn't happened yet (laughter).
Q. Andy Roddick has been in the top 10 for seven straight years. I know you can appreciate that consistency. Can you talk about him as a competitor.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, he's clearly a great competitor. You know, Andy influenced me. I think a couple years ago he wasn't playing his best tennis. The guy never gave up. He was at every event, playing every tournament. He never lost confidence. That actually motivated me at that point to do well. I was able to win some tournaments after watching his spirit and competitiveness.
I never told him that, but he definitely did influence me to do better and to work harder. So I think he's a great competitor. Too bad he can't beat some women players, but nonetheless he's pretty good (smiling).
Q. Will you watch any of Nadal/González?
GILLES SIMON: I don't know. I really think Nadal's gonna win (smiling). Yeah, I think it's going to be him. I just have to wait, and I have one more day to have my tactic, even if I know it already.
I prefer to play ‑‑ I think I prefer to play against Nadal. I prefer to play the No. 1 always. That's funny (laughter).
Q. Do you have some specific tactics in your mind if it's Nadal?
GILLES SIMON: Yes. I have to run five hours to win. I have no choice (laughter).
Three players were forced to retire mid-match today due to injury. Ironically, none of them were related to cramping or the heat. Zheng Jie was trailing 4-1 to Sveta when she fell on her already injured left wrist. Considering she's icing it before she's even walked off the court, I suspect it might be a break of some sort.
The scariest retirement came from Vika Azarenka, who authoritatively took the first set from Serena, 63 and was down a break in the second set when you could see she started to physically labor. It almost looked like she was hyperventilating between points. At the changover she called for the trainer and looked like she was going to blow chunks at any minute. After disappearing into the lockerroom to get treatment, Vika came back out and clearly looked wiped. Watching her attempt to carry on, while fighting to just stay upright, was just scary and sad. ESPN speculates that it's virus related and Lena D apparently confirmed that Vika did bring a virus into the tourney. There are other reports that it was food poisoning.
Hope the kid gets better. I know she'll recover physically. But a retirement while a set up on Serena for a spot in the quarterfinals is going to haunt her for bit.
The weirdest retirement goes to Monfils against Gilles. It was two sets to one when LaMonf called it quits, citing a right wrist injury. This wouldn't be odd except that (1) he has history of retiring mid-match, (2) it's a Grand Slam and you play through pain, and (3) after the match he said at first he thought the injury was in his head.
I don't know. Seeing as how you have on girl who retired because she may have broken her wrist, and another who was trying to play while trying to stay upright and conscious, this seemed kinda weak.
But Skinny!Andy is quietly tearing through the field and he's looking great. He destroyed Disco to move to a 10-0 record against him, 75 61 63. I don't love his style of tennis to watch, but good on him for making changes in the off-season to address his game. I have a lot of respect for that.
But he'll get his first major test when he meets Nole in the quarterfinals. I've always maintained that the "non-elite" players always look great when they're playing "non-elite" players, but when they play the top guys the gap in quality is ridiculous. I have a feeling it's going to be a pure grindout, with the deciding factor being how well Andy can serve.
Nole has to come in with some confidence in coming through after being tested by the always dangerous Baggy. It took him four hard fought sets, but he won, 61 76 67 62. And when you 're talking about two of the more charismatic and emotional guys in the game, you know there's gonna be some love at the net:
I am more than annoyed that the media, whether it's the Australian media, Serbian media, or whoever, are going out of their way to track down Damir Dokic to get his thoughts on everything. WHO THE FUCK CARES WHAT HE THINKS!?! Especially when he says shit like this:
"'She became depressed when she saw what she had done (leaving her family). When she left home everything started to go bad for her. She started losing tournament after tournament and she was panicking. Of course she was depressed, but not because of me. She became the fourth best player in the world because of me."
Now he's talking about wanting to coach her again, fly to Melbourne and attend if she makes the final, and reconcile. His level of delusion is spectacular stuff.
Snot Rocket's reaction?
Good for you, Jelena. Here's hoping the media quit mentioning him. Let the kid move on.
I really thought it was going to be a tighter match, but the Elf adjusted to Cilic's game after dropping the first (despite Tuxedo Mask serving at 32%), tightened it up, and reeled off the next three sets 64 64 62. He's now the youngest quarterfinalist at AO since 2001.
His reward? TMF, who suvived a scare from Big Byrd to win in a 3 and a half hour five setter, 4-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. I didn't see the match so I only know what I've read and what I can surmise from the scoreline. Sounds like Fed's experience won him the match, not his quality of play.
Nice try from Berdych though, who was actually pretty positive in his presser. He'll always be one of those guys who I hate to see in my guy's part of the draw. When he's clicking, he's impossible. Too bad the nerves got to him here.
Q. You were on Serena's website as one of her best all‑time wins. Can you clarify that for us?
ANDY RODDICK: Yes, I can, unfortunately. She always just gives me crap. Ask her about it. But she won't give me a rematch.
I saw her yesterday, and she walked on the court and started laughing because she knew I had probably seen it. I said, It wasn't fair. When we were ten, I had to literally run around in the shower to get wet. I was this big. She was bench pressing dump trucks already at that time. I told her that yesterday, and she got a good laugh. Any chance she gets she just does it to get under my skin, and she does it very successfully.
But, you know, however many some odd Wimbledon titles and they're like, What's your best match? I have a win over Andy Roddick. She forgets to mention that it was 1993.
Q. She thinks now she's beaten everyone you've beaten.
ANDY RODDICK: Oh, yeah. She sat me down for five minutes yesterday and was going through her indirect wins. She was pretty excited. She didn't know I had two wins over Pete, so she was excited about that also.
See the rest of A-Rod's solid presser here.
Dina had no business losing that match. Luckily for her, The Cone has no business winning it either. Luckily for us, Dina realized both these things just in time to turn her match around after dropping to 2-5 in the third set, staved of two match points and won five straight games to take the match and send the young Cone into tears.
Q. What was going through your mind? What tactics were you thinking?
DINARA SAFINA: Tactics? Not really. Just what I'm doing on the court, you know, having the whole ‑‑ you know, it was all about me first set, playing solid. Nothing special, just my game. It's 5‑Love for me. Okay, I had set point on her serve. She hit a lucky shot, 5‑1. Losing so fast my serve, 5‑2, and then I break her again, 6‑2 for me. 1‑Love, 15‑40 on her serve.
From 1‑Love to go down 5‑1, it should have never happened to me, being No. 3 in the world. I played really like a junior today. I think it's just lucky that I went through.
But really it's sad that I can do these kind of mistakes.
Q. Can you pick yourself up for the next match?
DINARA SAFINA: I have to. There is no other way, you know. Because really it's sad what I did today.
Q. But the positive for you is that you're managing to fight through these matches, and maybe your level will come in the next three?
DINARA SAFINA: I mean, the game is there. It's just that I'm soft on myself. I mean, winning 6‑2 and then having 1‑Love, 15‑40 on her serve, being dominant, and then like somebody switch me off and I started to just play.
Of course, because she was complaining about everything, I don't know what, her shoulder, this. I just started to look at her, what she's doing, instead of focusing myself and continuing being aggressive.
I just don't know. I'm so stupid looking at her instead of myself.
Q. In some way you must be pleased you were able to come back from two breaks down in the third set.
DINARA SAFINA: Of course, you know. But how many times I need to ‑‑ how many chances I need to have? I'm also lucky that I won first round. The girl, I didn't even have to stay in the court because she was playing with herself. Se was shooting ten balls in the fence, one in the court.
I was lucky to go through second round, because the girl, she could not win the match. Okay, third round at least I played something. Today again the girl has I think ‑‑ I just don't know how many more times I need to prove that either I play or I ready to go home.
The game is there. I just don't know what's going on through my mind.
Q. What did your coach say to you after the match?
DINARA SAFINA: The same. He said if I play like this, you gonna leave home. He said it makes no point for him to sit there and seeing myself playing completely different from what I'm practicing. Practicing playing aggressive, hitting the balls ‑‑ from 10 times 10 I hit exactly where I need to hit aggressive.
Come to the court and completely like just shadow is playing. Like, you know, Dinara is there, but just not me. So he's like, Okay, if you continue playing like this, I mean, it's better that I go home. I cannot tell you anything from sitting there. Because what I can tell you? You playing even more passive.
I mean, he's telling me at 5‑4, Hit the ball. I telling myself, Hit the ball, and just arm doesn't go because my mind is just stupid.
God. It is so obvious that Zeljko is totes aware of the fucked-up dynamic of their relatioship. Threatening her with abandonment? That's cold.
This is so not going to end well.
Rod Laver Arena 11:00
1. Gael Monfils (FRA) v. Gilles Simon (FRA)
2. Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v. Serena Williams (USA)
3. Rafael Nadal (ESP) v. Fernando Gonzalez (CHI)
4. James Blake (USA) v. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) (NB 7:30pm)
Hisense Arena 11:00
1. Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) v. Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP)
2. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) v. Elena Dementieva (RUS)
3. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) v. Jie Zheng (CHN)
4. Andy Murray (GBR) v. Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
Four bracket buster matches on tap today: Vika vs. ReRe, Domi vs. Lena, Rafa vs. Gonzo, and Muzz vs Fer. The toughest one for me to call is Vika vs. Serena.
7-5 5-7 8-6. Physically and emotionally drained, Snot Rocket relied on her mental strength to stay in the match and outlast Kleybs for the win. This was her fourth straight three setter.
Tip of the sweaty cap to Kleybs though on a solid tournament. I was really impressed that she never went away in the third set of her match against Ana and she stayed strong and competed hard to the end last night. Still don't like her though.
It's going to be rough going forward for Snot Rocket. She admitted after the match that she's physically drained and to make matters worse she suffered a left ankle sprain towards the end of the match. She'll face Dinara next.
But no doubt she's the story of the tournament. Here's the ESPN spot they did on her:
Numero Uno with a bullet, JJ, ran into the French firing squad that is the new slim and trim(ish) Mono Bartoli, losing somewhat listlessly, 61 64. Everyone probably thought I was nutso to pick this as a possible upset match, but to me it was always a horrible matchup for JJ. As much as Ricardo Sanchez keeps trying to convince the world otherwise, JJ's serve has not improved. It's pure absolute puffball shit. It's not world class. Even Love All turned to me and said "Jesus, even you could serve harder than that." Believe me, that's saying something.
And Mono may not be great if you can move her around on the baseline, but put her three feet behind the service box and give her a spinny sub 90mph serve, and she will hurt you. And that's what she did to JJ. She put too much pressure on JJ service games and broke her repeatedly, leaving JJ desperate to break back and just failing to play with intelligence or purpose.
But all credit to Mono. JJ may claim that she "let" her player her game, but no way. Mono just took the game to JJ and challenged her and JJ had no answers. The key to her game today was her serve and her return of serve. She dominated on both counts, which meant that even if the rallies went 50/50 or 70/30 to JJ, Mono still had the answers. Good for her.
JJ's going to have to really look at this loss. Sure, she can chalk it up to Mono's "lucky day" but if her team is worth anything they have to know that this match showed the world that despite all her claims to the contrary, her weaknesses are still very much there and attacakable. Her serve has NOT gotten better, and her movement doesn't look particularly better either. She seemed slow, though I don't know if that was her or the fact that Bartoli's shots made her look slow. If I'm one of the other players on the tour I'm thinking she's the same old beatable JJ from 2008, and that all that hard work and extra muscle tone that she keeps bragging about just means she's more durable over the long run. But the game is the same.
Chatting in a waiting area adjacent to a players' restaurant -- the food looked appetizing from afar -- Djokovic's coach, Marian Vajda, called the gamut of incidents a learning experience. Minutes earlier, Djokovic had eased past talented Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 in a second-round match that might have been trickier.
Not all of Djokovic's behavior has been indecent. In his defense, and as pointed out previously, the 21-year-old is no stranger to applauding his opponents' shots (otherwise a rarity); is as sporting as they come on controversial line calls (his parents might be a different story, if you recall Monte Carlo last spring); and offers warm handshakes, win or lose.
"He's the kind of player who loves the other players and won't hurt anybody in the locker room," he said. "In my opinion, he's too nice. People can't judge him for so long, because he's very positive for tennis, and this is what people have to take. I think they will take it like this."
It seems like we don't hear that much coming out of the Djokovic camp lately, which hasn't necessarily been a bad thing. But these comments from Vajda are great. They give insight into Nole's mind and how he saw the negative events of last season and how he's dealing with it going forward.
"Why Venus and Serena? They don't do nothing in Europe. Only they do when they play in the States. I think Jelena is the best player. She's the favorite."
-- Ricardo Sanchez, JJ's coach, on Venus and Serena being tapped as pre-tournament favorites.
Last time I checked, London was in Europe and Melbourne was in Australia. So...wait...what is he talking about?
Well Gilly made that look a lot easier than it should have been. In what looked like it would be an uber competitive matchup, Gilly took out Average Mario in straight sets, 76 64 62. Isn't this as far as he's ever gone in a Grand Slam? Good for him.
Unfortunately he'll run up against his good buddy LaMonf in the next round. That match is going to have A LOT. OF. RUNNING.
Meanwhile, Jo's back is holding up well so far. He overcame a lapse of concentration in the third set to easily beat Dudi Sela, 64 62 16 61. He'll meet Blah in the next round. Can you think of two more contrasting styles/personalities?
As for Reeshie, he fought valiantly against Gonzo. In fact, it was a really good match with tremendous shotmaking. But as is the trend with both these players, Reeshie won the first two sets handily, held match point in the third set tiebreak but couldn't convert, and Gonzo went Gonzo and started crushing winners from both sides to take the TB and then next two sets. It was a marathon fifth set that really could have been decided by a coinflip.
Sad for Reeshie. I was rooting for him in this one. But this sets up a nice revenge match for Rafa in the next round.
It's going to be weird having to go back to Baby E. I feel like we've been using Baby K forever now. Here's her latest blog post. All class as always:
IT'S been a very exciting first week with many great matches and storylines to follow. Unfortunately, I became one of them on Friday night.
I didn't find anything close to my best tennis here, but I tried my hardest and I cannot do more than that.
Sometimes your game just isn't there. I'm going to take a few days off, maybe have a holiday somewhere in Australia, think about what went wrong and how I can improve.
Top of my list of priorities is appointing a new full-time coach.
I'm excited about working with someone with new ideas and I'm still
confident of achieving some good results this year.
That's the great thing about tennis - there is always another tournament just around the corner.
Often when a top seed loses, reporters' questions focus on their
performance and people forget about the great play of the victor.
As I said, I didn't play well on Friday, but Alisa Kleybanova deserves great credit for her performance.
She played some unbelievable shots and was very consistent. The better player on the day won.
It was the same thing with the Venus Williams match. It was surprising that such a great champion lost in the second round, but you have to look at how well her opponent played.
Carla Suarez Navarros' victory proves there are no easy matches at grand slams. Every match is tough and there are always several upsets during the early rounds.
I've been watching some matches. Usually I don't watch much tennis
and when I do it is men's tennis because I like to see what I can learn
from the guys.
But I've seen some women's matches, too, including Jelena Dokic's first two matches.
Jelena has been great to watch. I admit I cried during her interview after her first round match. She has been through so much and I'm happy for her.
I know how important it is to have a supportive team around you and at the core of that is your family.
I can safely say I wouldn't be here without the kind support and understanding of my family. They never once pushed me, in fact, I pushed them!
I loved to hit the ball and compete in kids' tournaments at the weekends. My family was always extremely supportive.
I never stopped believing I would win the match against Kleybanova, which makes it tougher to come to terms with.
For the past few weeks I keep singing "Yeaaaaaahhhhhh, Fernando's on fire" to the tune of Kings of Leon's Sex on Fire. I keep hoping it'll get out of my head (the Fernando version, not the real version, which kicks so much ass) but Fer just isn't cooperating. He not only destroyed The Worm yesterday, he handed out two bagels and made him look like the old man that he is. Revenge is sweet. Fernando won 64 60 60.
He's only dropped 12 games through three matches. Unfortunately he'll face Muzz next. But this is such a great run for him. After the match, here's what he had to say:
"So suck it, Ana. I'm not crying over you. I've got my game and my Penguin, and I'm good to go!"
Rod Laver Arena 11:00
1. Jelena Jankovic (SRB) v. Marion Bartoli (FRA)
2. Dinara Safina (RUS) v. Alize Cornet (FRA)
3. Tomas Berdych (CZE) v. Roger Federer (SUI)
4. Jelena Dokic (AUS) v. Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) (NB 7:30pm)
5. Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) v. Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Hisense Arena 11:00
1. Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) v. Marin Cilic (CRO)
2. Nadia Petrova (RUS) v. Vera Zvonareva (RUS)
3. Andy Roddick (USA) v. Tommy Robredo (ESP)
Wow, these are all great matches. I'm really really intrigued by the JJ match. I don't know. Mono might pull it off. And of course, both night matches on Laver will be tasty.
On Baby K:
Totes agree on the forehand. That thing just doesn't look right. Too spinny, not hitting through the ball, not moving forward.
But whatever. I'm over it. Moving on.
How are people not tennis fans? I mean, it's like Gossip Girl meets Friday Night Lights meets Freaks and Geeks meets Arrested Development. How can that not be appealing (granted, none of those shows has/had a huge audience anyway)? So many frickin' amazingly heartwarming, heartbreaking, hilarious , and absurd human interest stories play out on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis. I don't need soaps, just give me my WTA and ATP.
Take Dina for example. Sodapop posted this article and it may be the greatest thing I've ever read.
Some choice excerpts:
Yesterday, Krajon said that when he first encountered Safina she lacked confidence on the tennis court.
"She knew there was something inside of her but she couldn't get it out," Krajon said. "She knew she had the shots, but she didn't know how to put it all into place. She always believe that she could be one of the best, that's the most important part, but she didn't know how to do it.
"She had problems with why she didn't believe in anything. She wondered why she didn't have confidence. I didn't have to change anything of her technique in tennis, was fine, it was just the mental part — she had lost all her confidence."
It was this time four years ago that her older brother pointed out that his little sister needed to "grow up" and listen. She had just lost 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 to Amelie Mauresmo in the second round in Melbourne. A then 18-year-old Safina, world No. 44, had choked.
Marat was gently asked this question; "She lost today, obviously, but has her tennis improved a lot in the last year, do you think?".
Marat candidly replied: "She needs to have a character and she needs to be a little bit grown-up woman. Of course, she is little bit young, and I know everything everybody saying to her, she is still young, she has big future in front of her. But I'm sorry, if you don't really understand yourself what's going on, it's little bit difficult for somebody to fix it and explain it. Nobody going to tell her what to do; she has to decide for herself, you know. It's my duty to help her, but if she doesn't want to listen …"
But in the past year Safina has started to understand herself better and is listening. This week, Marat praised her maturity and ascent on the tour. On the eve of the Open he tipped her as a good chance to win.
Safina has become mentally tough. And Krajon fires her up with motivational phrases to keep her confidence on a high. He will not disclose exactly what he says to keep her on track.
"There are many things I say to her but I will not, should not, say because then everyone will know," Krajon said. "There is always different pressure for losing, for winning the crowd, but unfortunately I won't talk about it."
Then there's the "secret" motivational books.
"She's reading some of the books I was reading when I was tennis player and now as a coach," Krajon said. "But I'm not going to mention them because maybe all of the sudden it gets out and everyone knows her secrets. Some secrets have to stay secret."
And of course, the infamous L'Equippe interview:
During the Kremlin Cup in 2004, Marat interviewed her for French newspaper L'Equipe and her adoration of her brother was clear.
"You're my god," Safina said. "When you play, I love watching you. When you lose, I'm even sadder than when I lose. When you're hurt, I suffer. When you talk to me, I drink your words. When you come to see me playing, I'm beside myself with joy. I hate hearing or reading something bad about you. I know you are hard-working and that you do everything you can to be number one. For me, you have the biggest talent of any player and I don't have half of your talent."
Dina FTW, people. FTW.
Rod Laver Arena 11:00
1. Shuai Peng (CHN) v. Serena Williams (USA)* (I guess I shouldn't take this match for granted)
2. Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v. Amelie Mauresmo (FRA)* (I expect Vika will wipe the floor with Momo but I really really hope I'm wrong)
3. Dudi Sela (ISR) v. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
4. Samantha Stosur (AUS) v. Elena Dementieva (RUS) (NB 7:30pm)
5. Rafael Nadal (ESP) v. Tommy Haas (GER)* (Rafa's first test)
Hisense Arena 11:00
1. Gael Monfils (FRA) v. Nicolas Almagro (ESP)
2. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) v. Alona Bondarenko (UKR)
3. James Blake (USA) v. Igor Andreev (RUS)* (I know, this sounds like the boringest of boring matches, but I like Igor)
4. Andy Murray (GBR) v. Jurgen Melzer (AUT) (NB 7:30pm)* (match of the day right here)
Margaret Court Arena 11:00
1. Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) v. Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
2. Mario Ancic (CRO) v. Gilles Simon (FRA)* (ack! I'm so torn!)
3. Virginie Razzano (FRA) v. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK)
4. Richard Gasquet (FRA) v. Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) (NB 7:30)* (a potential cracker depending on Gonzo's forehand)
Show Court 2 11:00
1. Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) v. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (ESP)
2. Jie Zheng (CHN) v. Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR)
3. Radek Stepanek (CZE) v. Fernando Verdasco (ESP)* (Brisbane rematch. I'm sad they stuck Fer on the show courts all week. At least give him some love on Margaret Court!)
As for the ladies...
JJ and Mono came through today and will meet in the next round. I'm really intrigued by this one. Obviously you never know what you're going to get with Mono, and she hasn't exactly been dominating in the early rounds (she needed three sets to finish Lucie). That said, she's fitter and we know she can cause problems for the top players.
As for JJ, she's progressing through in straight sets, but the wins have never been convincing. For all the talk about her getting stronger to get more pop on that serve, that thing is still a duck. She's still extremely vulnerable on her own serve.
I'm not saying Mono FTW. But if JJ doesn't up her form dramaticaly, this isn't going to be a cakewalk.
Q. Have you got anyone in your entourage that's been in a situation like this? You're not working with a coach, are you?
ANA IVANOVIC: No, unfortunately. No one has experienced anything like this. I'm looking for a coach. We have already chat with a couple potential coaches. In the near future, I really would like to make a decision. I think it's important.
Also, without a coach for so long it's a little bit tough. You just need some direction sometimes. That's something I felt was missing in my game. Already for a while we're trying to look into some good possibilities.
Obviously, it's a hard one, so I want to make sure we get the right coach.