IT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN AT WIMBLEDON: A jaunty Australian Open usher told fans exiting during a changeover, “Hold onto your tickets ladies, stick ’em down your bras” Passing guys then asked, “Where’s the nearest bra store?”
ANDY RODDICK ON DONALD TRUMP: Out of nowhere, the usually apolitical Andy Roddick took a jab at President Trump. When asked about his ideas on changing tennis, Andy said “Me blurting out an idea isn’t as easy as that idea working. Trust me, I’ve lived in America the last year and a half, so I’m almost an expert on that.
TENNIS’ ULTIMATE DEJA VU? We could have an all-Williams women’s final and a Roger vs. Rafa final for the guys. Andy Roddick spoke of the latter possibility and said, “Think about the historical significance of what that match would look like…One player [Nadal] at 14 slams, one player [Federer] at 17 slams, Rafa wins, it’s 15-17, and the French Open is around the corner – it [their fabled rivalry] is back on. It’s literally game on for the most slams ever. If Roger wins, it’s 18-14. I don’t know that that divide gets made up.
If that happens, it has to be the most important match in Australian Open history and possibly Grand Slam history.”
THIRTYSOMETHINGS: Venus (“still beaming after all these years”) is into the semis, along with her baby sister Serena, 35, and spring chicken Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 34. And don’t forget that another 35-year old, Mr. Federer, fights on.
A GENIUS THAT INSISTS ON KEEPING ON CREATING: Just when you think Federer is a normal athlete, he flicks a backhand half-volley from the baseline that drifts the full length of the court before dropping perfectly on the far baseline – #astonishing.
ROGER’S CHARM OFFENSIVE: Federer’s on-court exchange with Jim Courier after his win over Mischa Zverev was the most charming post-match interview in a good while. Roger didn’t just talk about how both court conditions and tennis balls these days are generally much slower than before. He joked that his friend Stan Wawrinka has done so well, but it’s good enough for now. Most of all, he said his kids would say, “Daddy, please don’t lose, we want to stay longer here in Melbourne.” But, just recently, one of them said, “Okay, skiing back in Switzerland wouldn’t be so bad.” Plus, Roger sounded quite like the delighted dad, as he spoke about wrestling with his young sons and listening to his daughters.
GENUINE JO’S GENUINE EMOTIONS: Jo Konta is wonderful. The Brit quarterfinalist is bright, balanced, articulate and emotionally intelligent. When she was asked if she had a cold after her loss to Serena, “No,” she replied with great candor and some courage. “I was crying. Whew…I just wanted to do really well….So I think I may have put a little too much…pressure on myself and not given enough credit to the situation…I cried because I am a genuinely emotional person.”
QUOTEBOOK: “Serena Williams is looking like Serena Williams.” – Richard Evans
REFLECTIONS ON NERVE AND BELIEF: Chris Evert said with Serena’s opponents the key factor is their having belief, while with Serena herself it is more a matter of keeping her nerve.
SYNERGY-WHIZ: The mirror-like synergy between Bob and Mike Bryan is one of the more curious phenomenons in sports. When Bob twitches, Mike twitches. When Mike shuffles his feet, Bob shuffles his feet. They flow, they explode – often in unison.
NO ONE DID IT BETTER: When reflecting on the Bryan Brothers, Stanford Director of Tennis Dick Gould said, “No one could have represented their family, their school, their sport or their country like Bob and Mike. They had great values, yet were fun. And they were great leaders. They made me better.”
SAY IT ISN’T SO: A 17-year old Italian girl – Maria Vittoria Viviani – swiped a ball in frustration that accidentally hit a ball kid, and was kicked out of the tourney. The incident brought to mind the time at Wimbledon when, during a doubles match, Tim Henman angrily blasted a ball which hit a ball kid. And yes, Henman was kicked out.
GO FIGURE: Serena is into her tenth straight semifinal…Three of the four women semifinalists are from Southern California.
A LEGENDARY POPULARITY CONTEST: Of the 20 or so Hall of Famers introduced last night in Rod Laver Arena, the loudest ovations were for 1. Rod Laver, 2. John McEnroe, and 3. Pat Rafter.
HUMAN NATURE 101: Coco Vandeweghe said she was nervous and scared in her quarterfinal win over Garbine Muguruzza. Then she quickly added, “Maybe I play better when I’m nervous and scared.”
BRADEN BOOM: Within hours, legendary coach Vic Braden got into the Hall of Fame, and one of his students, Coco Vandeweghe, got into the semis.
UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR: Venus said, “I do know how to play tennis.” Ya think?
LESS AIR TIME: The aging Bryan brothers conceded, “Our chest bumps are getting lower. We used to get some air. Now it’s just an inch or two..”
Additional reporting by Tanya Liesegang