BEWARE OF DEAD MEN WALKING

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Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Bill Simons

Melbourne

PLEASE DON’T SAY THIS IS A COMMENTARY ON HUMAN NATURE: After her second-round win, Aryna Sabalenka tossed a headband to fans and two fiercely determined women grabbed and proceeded to battle over the priceless treasure. They tugged and tussled and exchanged elbows as half the crowd looked on confused and the other half laughed. Eventually the two were escorted from the stadium, the headband was confiscated and there was much debate about whether this was a sad commentary on human nature.

SLOANE STEPHENS SAYS BEWARE OF DEAD MEN WALKING: Sloane Stephens’ relatives were morticians and she was asked what it was like to work in the business. She replied, it was “cool – a lot of dead bodies. I think that a lot of people are afraid of dead bodies, but you can’t be scared. The only thing you should be scared of is people walking around – right? It’s kind of cool, kind of different. But I’m not allowed to do it anymore, because I did one summer and then when the families were crying, I started crying. And they were like, ‘She can’t work here.’…I never really got used to it. But I’m really into cremation. I like that stuff.”

AMERICAN SCOREBOARD: Not counting US residents Naomi Osaka and Maria Sharapova, the remaining American women in the draw are Serena, Venus, Madison Keys, teen Amanda Anisimova, Sloane Stephens and Danielle Collins. The only American man still alive is Frances Tiafoe, who’ll next face Grigor Dimitrov, currently coached by Andre Agassi.

THE MOST CREATIVE TENNIS PROTEST EVER?: Two beaming women in gorgeous white wedding dresses sat by each other in Margaret Court Arena during a match. Margaret Court, of course, is a fundamentalist preacher who has adamantly opposed same sex marriage.

QUITE THE COLOR COMMENTARY: After Chris Bowers noted that Milos Raonic didn’t get his footwork right on a shot, Kate Kearns concurred, and claimed the Canadian “was far too busy worrying about the color of his shoes.”

MOST CREATIVE CELEBRATIONS: Frances Tiafoe’s

SAY IT ISN’T SO: Garbine Muguruza beat Jo Konta in a match that finished at 3:12 AM

GO FIGURE: Jim Courier said Stan Wawrinka’s coach Magnus Norman has been the most impactful coach over the past decade. Editor’s note: Patrick Mouratoglou has had quite an impact on the women’s game…According to ESPN, Amanda Anisimova is the first male or female player born it the 21st Century to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam…Madison Keys has not yet become a true tennis superstar. She did reach the 2017 US Open and that’s a fabulous achievement – great but no cigar. Having said that, it is incredible that in her last five Slams, she’s reached three semis…Roger Federer said that he loves to watch both men’s and women’s tennis on TV.

QUOTEBOOK:

“I just love suffering. I love just cooking out there.” – A joking Jo Konta on dealing with the heat

“If there’s a store where you can buy confidence, I’ll go and purchase it.” – the reeling Victoria Azarenka

“They are running like stags. It’s amazing.” – Radio Australia on Sofia Kenin and Simona Halep

“I like order and all that. But there is a place for creativity and I let it shine once in a while.” Jo Konta

“The way she’s walking around the baseline, it’s imperious.” – Chris Bowers

“I would not be surprised if Maria Sharapova retires in 2019.” – Chris Evert

“Whatever racket she’s using, she’s not using it very well.” – Chris Bowers after a debate over what racket the floundering Genie Bouchard was playing with

RBA ON A RUN: Ed McGrogan noted that in 18 days this year, Roberto Bautista Agut has beaten Stan Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych, Andy Murray and Karen Khachanov, and he beat Aussie John Millman in a five-setter in Melbourne.

WORST SPORT: Yulia Putintseva

SHAPOVALOV’S DREAM – I WANT TO BE A STAR: Canadian Denis Shapovalov said he had been inspired by Rafa and Novak Djokovic, so we asked him if he could imagine that someday he would be an inspiration to young players. The 19-year old replied, “I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching…Everything kind of came so quick to me. All of a sudden I was in the spotlight. Now, every week if I lose, [they say] Denis is disappointing, Denis this. For me, it was so much noise, so much this and that. I was blocking most of it. But, still, it does get to you. I was just thinking, ‘Is this really what I want in life?’ Honestly, I came to the realization [that] that’s what I grew up wanting to do. I want to be a star. I want to be one of the Rogers or Rafas so that young kids and players look up to me and pick up racquets. Especially in Canada, you know. For me, everything is about the sport in Canada. As much as I love hockey, I feel like tennis is so underdeveloped in Canada…I’m just hoping I can do everything in my power to be the perfect role model for these young next champions coming up, just to be a good guy.

“I was really thrown off, a couple years ago, [when] I met Wayne Gretzky. He’s such a star for everyone. But it’s not just about how good he was at his sport. It’s the way he carried himself, the way he was with fans, with even me, a nobody at that time.

“Instead of taking a car from my practice court to go back inside, the guy was fine to walk and sign autographs. That’s so good for the country.

“Honestly, I feel very lucky to have lived in Canada for such a long time, been raised there…I just want to give everything I can back to it, and hopefully inspire a lot of kids to pick up racquets.”

 

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