JUST WONDERING: Which tennis player in Melbourne has a cooler name – the young Aussie Destanee Aiava or the Filipino-American doubles specialist Treat Huey?
A WOMAN WITH EGO: ESPN’S Chris Evert said of Serena, “This is a woman with pride and ego and used to being No. 1, used to being the queen at the top. I’m sure that’s going to be motivation for her, not liking to see another name up there…I don’t think it’s a matter of if she’s going to win another Grand Slam, I think it’s when, and I think it will happen this year.”
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF WAITANGI DAY: Our favorite commentary in the New Zealand paper we read during our layover was about New Zealand’s Fourth of July. Addressing the country’s Prime Minister, it said, “Not turning up sends a a message that either you think Waitangi Day is not that important or that the people who say it’s a big deal are not that important.”
• “Set for life.” – The young, money-conscious Aussie Bernie Tomic when asked to describe himself in three words
• “You’re looking at one of the fittest athletes in the world” – Richard Evans on Andy Murray
• “I feel old” – Venus Williams on playing teens
• It’s the most glaring weakness in Djokovic’s game and there really isn’t a No. 2 behind it.” – Mary Carillo on Djokovic’s overhead
SAN DIEGO AVIATORS FLY: Last September Shelby Rogers and Ryan Harrison led the San Diego Aviators to a surprise World TeamTennis Championship title. Today the duo led America’s contingent out of the gate in Melbourne. Rogers, who has a flair for the big stage, scored the first big upset of the Slam season when she swept aside the hobbled No. 4 seed Simona Halep. Showing her usual power, the South Carolina product returned with confidence and often pulled down the Romanian 6-1, 6-3.
As for Harrison, the Louisiana native is famous for his horrific, career-stalling draws at Slams. But today he dismissed France’s doubles wiz Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Then again, it’s nice not to have to play Federer or Nadal in the first round of a major. BTW: Tennis today did all it could for the spirits of San Diego’s sports fans, who are reeling over the ridiculous departure of the Chargers to L.A. San Diegan Coco Vandeweghe dismissed former US Open finalist Roberta Vinci 6-1, 7-6 (3).
UNFAIR TO PERRY: The late great British star Fred Perry has a resume that’s far stronger than Andy Murray’s. But, unlike Murray and the late Aussie Sir Norman Brookes, the wonderful but prickly Perry was never knighted. He wasn’t proper enough. He didn’t have the right accent, he came from the wrong side of the tracks and let people know about it. He had a bit of a ‘tude. Plus, he became an American citizen. Perry won three Wimbledons, was on three Davis Cup championship teams, won all four of the Slams and they put a statue of him up at Wimbledon. Still, he never was knighted. BTW: Murray today became the first knight to play a pro tennis match.
I’M A CONTENDER SO DON’T WRITE ME OFF – RAFA NADAL
NO WAITING FOR DESTANEE’S ARRIVAL
RUMORS OF THEIR RETIREMENT WERE GREATLY EXAGGERATED: Ten years ago Russian Nadia Petrova contended that the end was near for Serena and Venus. In 2007 she said, “It looks like everything is leading to the end of their career because they are quite busy; they have talk shows, books, and clothing lines.” Petrova, twice a semifinalist at the French Open, just retired. Serena and Venus play on.