By Bill Simons
ELEGANT AND ICY SHARAPOVA: Despite searing heat, so brutal and relentless; despite a determined Italian opponent, Karin Knapp; despite an obvious rustiness from being off the circuit with a shoulder injury for four months; despite being unable to sustain her lead when she was up a set and a break; despite failing to convert three match points and despite many an error off the ground, problematic returns, and yet another horrific serving performance (she had 12 double faults, including three double faults in the final game of the match); No. 3 seed Maria Sharapova‘s heroic three-and-a-half-hour 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 win once again proved that the cool Russian-American—so elegant and icy—is the fiercest fighter on the women’s tour this side of a force of nature named Serena.
PRESS ROOM DIALOG OF THE DAY: Within the Aussie Open press room, Inside Tennis told Doug Robson of USA Today:,”They should invent a whole-body ice bag, or something like that, so these players could really cool off.” Robson replied, “They have one already, but it’s for dead people.”
THE MARCH OF TIME: On a crammed tram en route to the tennis, fan Maurice Broom, 72, chuckled. The Melbourne resident, who is ranked No. 20 in the ITF 70s, told some kind ladies near him, “I used to play in the Australian Open at Koyoong, now I am being offered a seat on a tram.”
BEAUTIFUL AND SENSIBLE NECKWEAR: We used to love to point out that the classy Maryland native Pam Shriver was the only sports broadcaster we knew who wore pearls while on-air. But today, she wore both pearls and a ice necklace.
GOOD QUESTION: Chris Bowers questioned if Novak Djokovic really requires a coach. He suggested all the Serb needs is to talk tactics over dinner the night before a match.
HEATED DEBATE: What’s worse, the 108-degree dry heat in Melbourne, or the slightly cooler but oh-so-humid heat of South Florida or New York during the US Open?
WATER WAYS: Unlike Cleveland’s Lake Erie, Melbourne’s Yarro River has yet to catch on fire … As Maria Sharapova finally started to dictate in her match, Chris Bowers noted that she “is starting to put a bit of clear water between her and the Italian.
HEADLINE OF THE DAY: HEAT WAVE HEART ATTACK FEARS
SHADE-SEEKING AND SHAD-HANGING: A way of life in toasty Melbourne.
WORST AO VISUAL SINCE CANADIAN FRANK DANCEVIC COLLAPSED COURTSIDE: The overheated American Varvara Lepchenko lying flat on her back on the players bench.
SEND HIM A MAP: ESPN noted that after playing 63 straight matches on Rod Laver Arena, Roger Federer was going to play on an outer stadium, Hisense Arena. The network then thoughtfully suggested that officials send Federer a map.
CLASSIEST DUO: Are Federer and his new coach Stefan Edberg the classiest coach-pupil duo in tennis history?
SHOCKING SHOT: Sharapova, who sticks to the baseline like a babe clings to mom, actually stroked a lovely one-handed volley during her epic second-round win.
ARRESTED NAP: During the Sharapova–Karin Knapp marathon, Courtney Rees tweeted that she “was trying to have a Knapp but Maria keeps grunting.”
IF YOU THINK THE HEAT IS BAD HERE, HOW ABOUT… Reflecting on the scorching weather, Jon Wertheim said, “Makes one wonder even more what will happen when the World Cup hits Qatar.”
THREE THINGS NOVAK DJOKOVIC LIKES ABOUT NEW COACH BORIS BECKER: He’s a seasoned champion who knows what it takes to prevail at Slams. He has plenty of German discipline. He’s a good storyteller.
GIVE THAT GUY A (NICE AND EASY) HUG: When Mats Wilander asked Jerzy Janowicz—the 6’8″ Pole—to describe the plusses and minuses of being tall, he said, “It’s not easy to hug people.”