They Said What? Grand Slam Edition

Friday, January 18, 2013 /by

Greetings, everyone. Yesterday in Melbourne, the top players put the hammer down. After two exciting and sometimes unpredictable rounds for all but the dominant ATP and WTA stars, order was restored. At least temporarily.

Granted, there were a few exciting three-set (WTA) or longer encounters between well-matched opponents. But by and large the favorites laid down the law, as if to say “Enough with the monkey business, let’s take this baby to the next level.”

The only seeded male player to lose to an unseeded rival was No. 22 Fernando Verdasco (Kevin Anderson of South Africa took him down in five sets, in one of those non-upset upsets) , and the closest thing to a WTA upset was No. 11 Marion Bartoli’s failure against No. 19 Ekaterina Makarova.

The only other favorites to lose even a set while posting a win were No. 8  Janko Tipsarevic (who lost two to the lowest men’s seed, No. 32 Julien Benneteau) and Julia Goerges, the No. 18 seed who lost a set to unseeded Jie Zheng.

So with all quiet on the southern front, let’s take a look at what some of the players had to say on an otherwise slow news day:

The Flying Dutchman of Japan

You know the tale of the Flying Dutchman, the ghost ship doomed never to make port? Kimiko Date-Krumm, the pint-sized, 42-year old Japanese, knows how the ghost crew of that vessel must feel.

Date-Krumm is having a stellar Australian Open; she’s in the third round of the singles, and yesterday she and Aranxta Parra Santonja upset the No. 2 seeds in doubles, Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka. But when a reporter marveled at how much she’s played and asked what her schedule for this year was like, she just laughed and replied:

“I hope less than last year. Because I play last year 27 or something, so I try to not play not so much.  But if I lose first round many times, then no choice.  I need to go more. So I hope not play more than 25 this year.”

Yes, Let’s do About the Weather

Janko Tisparevic will have to put in an effort worthy of an Ironman if he hopes to last until next weekend in Melbourne. His last two matches have gone to five sets, sometimes under extreme but changeable conditions. Reflecting on it, Janko said:

“You know, we did pre-season in Doha, Qatar, where it was hot, but not ridiculously hot. The weather in Australia, I have to say it's crazy.  You don't know what are you going to get. I mean, three days ago it was really cold when I played Lacko. Two days ago it was like 70 degrees Celsius on the court. Today was beautiful, but it was really, really windy.  Who knows what's going to happen tomorrow.  Probably we'll have rain and we're going to end up playing indoors.”

Don’t You Forget About Me

Kei Nishikori has quietly but lethally battered his way into the fourth round, and lost just one set along the way — in his very first match. But he doesn’t mind that Date-Krumm and other Japanese players (like Go Soeda and Ayumi Morita) are getting so much attention. He said:

“Yeah, it's good for Japanese tennis, for sure.  And I'm more happy that, yeah, Kimiko is doing well.  She just beat second seed doubles.  That's amazing how much she can play. But, yeah, I mean, everything makes me. . . happy. And I'm one of them, too.”

Secrets to Success, Part I

Heather Watson played a good first set against No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, but she still went down in straights — as has every other woman Radwanska has faced thus far this year (she’s won two tournaments already).

Watson was asked why, given Radwanska’s slight build and conspicuous lack of power, the Polish Popgun was so deadly. Watson replied: “It's very tough. The ball isn't coming that fast, but it's just coming back. Every single time.”

Yank Slayer

Clearly mistaking Stan “Manislaus” Wawrinka for someone who cares, a reporter asked him if he was aware that Sam Querrey, whom Wawrinka had just whipped in straights, was the “last American in the tournament.”

In response, Wawrinka growled “You know, it's not my first problem.  I play at U.S. Open and it was always the last American. . .  It's not the first time I play when it's ‘the last American in a Grand Slam.’ ”

My suspicion: Wawrinka resents the fact that as long as his countryman Roger What’s His Name is around, he will never be able to say he was “the last Swiss in a Grand Slam.” He’s got to settle for being the bad guy who beat the last American in a major.

Student Teacher

After Agnieszka Radwanska schooled young Heather Watson in their third-round match, she spoke about having continued her university studies during the off season:

“It's good to know something more than just play forehand, backhand.  Of course it was really tough to studying and being professional tennis player. I must say they (the University of Krakow administrators) really help me out, and I can do my exam whenever I'm ready. So when I'm ready, I'm just calling them and I'm going to university and having exams. Without a doubt for sure it's impossible to study.”

In a move that smacks of carrying coals to Newcastle, Radwanska is studying tourism.

Say it With Flowers

On a day when almost every single player interviewed was asked about Lance Armstrong’s doping confession (see Matt Cronin’s story on the most unequivocal criticism, offered by No. 1 Novak Djokovic), Maria Sharapova spoke about the irritations of out-of-competition testing:

“You know, we give whereabouts of where we are every single day of the year.  Hopefully (they don’t show up) on birthdays and Christmas Eve. . .although they did show up (once) on my birthday and I was very disappointed.  They did a couple of years ago.  I said, ‘[if] you bring flowers, I'm okay with it.’ But they came empty handed.”

Reading Between the Lines

It’s funny how most of us have one or another opinion that we assume is universally held when nothing can be farther from the truth. On a day when David Ferrer reaffirmed his friendship with Rafael Nadal and said he didn’t give a hoot about who was No. 1 in Spain, Ana Ivanovic said this about the often rocky relationship she’s had with her countrywoman Jelena Jankovic (whom she had just beaten):

“I think it's competitiveness (the thing that has given their relationship an edge), and you have that with everyone you play, and especially someone coming from your country.”

Well, I can think of a number of players from a number of countries who don’t see it that way at all. In fact, some genuinely dislike having to compete against a friend and countryman, and are pretty poor at it. I don’t have a problem with Ivanovic’s attitude, but it isn’t by any means the only available one.

And that’s it for today, folks.

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