The Australian Open is in full first-round motion, and with it, another edition of The Spin's Fourhand series. Here are a few buzzworthy stories during this first Grand Slam week of 2014:
FED FACTS The Atlantic was bound to garner a lot of attention with a headline like "What Every Pro Tennis Player Does Better Than Roger Federer." Turns out Fed is the most notable repeat victim of Simpson's Paradox, that oddity of scoring in tennis in which a player loses a match despite winning a majority of the points. His record in such matches: 4-24. In the end, the writer frames it like this: "Federer’s dismal record in these quirky matches, somewhat ironically, is yet another data point in support of the empirically driven conclusion that he is the greatest tennis player ever."
COURTING SUCCESS Andy Murray hardly finds himself alone now among the ranks of stars with high-profile former pros perched as coaches in their players' boxes. Stefan Edberg paired with Federer, Boris Becker with Novak Djokovic, Michael Chang with Kei Nishikori, and the beat goes on. That said, Murray, now a two-time Grand Slam champion under Ivan Lendl's tutelage, remains the one having the most fun with it, comparing his relationship with the classically stoic Lendl to taking on a new girlfriend.
LOVE MATCH Ryan Sweeting isn't in Australia, but he's having a ball all the same, attending Sunday's Golden Globe Awards with new wife Kaley Cuoco, one of the stars of the hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory:
In the wake of Sweeting's transformation from sweaty jock to dapper chap, today's news has it that he and Cuoco are trying to have a baby. The off-court mixed doubles team married on New Year's Eve in California.
FUTURES Aussie great John Newcombe recently called for a fifth Grand Slam event to be created and played in China. Tennis has certainly caught up in Asia, an indisputable fact by this point. China's Li Na is up to No. 3 in the WTA rankings, Kei Nishikori of Japan has grinded his way to No. 17 among the ATP World Tour elite, and Thai upstart Luksika Kumkhum took down No. 6 Petra Kvitova in Melbourne, the biggest surprise of the event to date. Any such major event to be added in China would presumably be played in Beijing, and close calendar-wise to the Miami hard-court tournament.
Here's my question at The Spin: With five such events then, what would the sum of them, this quintet, be called? It's no longer simply a Grand Slam lineup.
Got a thought, a tip, or a point to make? Hit me on Twitter @jonscott9.