AUSSIE OPEN BUZZ: Newflashes From Melbourne

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Photo by PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images

NEWSFLASH: American tennis may not be boiling over the top, but it sure is simmering. Two days doesn’t change the tennis landscape, but the USA has had a stunning start in Melbourne. #Encouraging!

AMERICAN FORECAST: John McEnroe said Reilly Opelka and Frances Tiafoe are the two young Americans with the greatest upsides and that Jack Sock would soon crack the top 10.

OF DOGS AND PIGS: After Serena flubbed a forehand against Belinda Bencic, Steve Pierce quipped, “She made an absolute pig’s ear of it.” Craig Gabriel added, “And a dog’s breakfast.”

EASY FOR HIM TO SAY: After blasting Martin Klizan in his private parts from point blank range, Stan Wawrinka said, “I’m sorry I [hit] him in the wrong place. But I think it was OK at the end.”

QUOTEBOOK:

“It was not cold.” – Alexandrer Zverev on Melbourne’s sweltering temperatures

“He’s a bit overcooked, that’s my main worry.” – A British voice in the media canteen expressing worry that Andy Murray may be tired

“You saw a piano on the back [of Serena’s outfit]. I saw a tractor. You play the piano, I grew up on a farm. That says it all.” – Radio Australia

“He’s going to have to wait, as everyone waits for Serena Williams.” – Radio Australia on the fate of the Aussie Open’s on-court interviewer

“I played fantastic.” John Isner on how he finished 2016

HEADLINES

ROGUE ROO STRIKES (Angry marsupial sends jogger to hospital)

I DIDN’T COME HERE TO LOSE (Serena Williams)

PRIVATE DJOKE

WELCOME TO RED-HOT CITY

TSONGA FINDS THE KEI

STAR CZECH

STAND BY YOUR MAN: A fan questioned the viability of the BNP Paribas Open Tournament Director playing this year’s Australian Open. “What exactly is Tommy Haas playing at the Australian Open? Wheelchair tennis?” The mean-spirited comment prompted Haas’ wife, Sara Foster, to reply: ‘I think what you meant to say was “How inspiring that a former world No 2, [a] 38-year-old with 15 surgeries behind him is playing…idiot.”

COKE VS. PEPSI: Pete Sampras said drinking Pepsi was the reason he vomited on court against Alex Corretja at the 1996 US Open. But Coco Vandeweghe said drinking Coke Monday was a big reason she didn’t upchuck on court during her problematic first-round win. As she was struggling big time during her first round win over Roberta Vinci, Vandeweghe thought to herself, “I’m going to be that person who barfs on the court.”

BIG VENUS ON LITTLE SERENA – ‘SHE’S PAVING THE WAY: Last year Venus Williams reflected on marriage, saying “I heard being married is tough. [You] have to stick around, be supportive, listen. It seems really hard.” So Inside Tennis followed up and asked Venus about Serena’s engagement to Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian. Venus said Serena’s “much smarter than I am…She’s a wise woman. She’s actually getting a real life. She’s paving the way, once again, for me. Maybe I’ll grow up. But it’s been an awesome year for her, and this will be a great year again.” As for her own marriage, Venus noted, “You can’t plan these things. You can’t…you have just to live and see what happens.”

Venus then said Ohanian is “a super nice guy that – [but] you never know how the things are going to end. In this case, it’s not gonna end, so it’s great.”

JUST WONDERING: Who has more power, Karolina Pliskova or Madison Keys?

SELFIES: When asked who he would like to have a selfie with, John Isner said, “You are going to laugh but I have always been a big fan of the professional wrestler Shawn Michaels, He did everything off the top rope and his finishing move was pretty nice.” Sam Querrey said he would choose Tom Brady and Justin Timberlake. Nicole Gibbs simply said, “Obama, he’s the man.”

THE MUSINGS OF A RAFA FAN: Reflecting on Rafa Nadal, writer Jon Toney noted that,“Two of the rarest qualities in world-class athletes are humility and honesty and the two are intertwined. Humility is acknowledging vulnerability; what’s more honest than that? It’s these two qualities that make Nadal such an amazing champion! When he speaks, he doesn’t recycle cliches like “One match at a time.”

When asked if he can still compete, Rafa’s answer: “If I am here it is because I still believe.”

JUST WONDERING: Have we ever seen a season where there are so many questions about the return to form of so many greats? Think Federer, Nadal, Serena, Sharapova and Azarenka…Just how much are Djokovic and Murray pushing each other…After Serena, is Angie Kerber the toughest player mentally on the WTA tour?

QUOTE OF THE YEAR – SO FAR: Tennis is a very grueling game, especially when the style of play is as punishing as Rafa Nadal’s. When asked about his health, Rafa said, “I am not injured, no. But pain-free is a long time ago.”