The Buzz

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Victoria Azarenka in the moment at the Aussie Open

NO EMOTIONS, SO MANY EMOTIONS: When über-intense Victoria Azarenka finally won her first Slam — the Aussie Open in January — time seemed to stop. And photographers recorded one of the great pictures in recent memory. Vika told IT she’ll remember the moment for the rest of her life and said, “I felt so relieved it was over. That intensity … you’re so into the match, you’re in the zone, and then when it’s over everything drops. Your energy loses your body … I didn’t know what to do. I had no emotions … so many emotions. [It was] overwhelming. It took me a few days to realize what I had done … I couldn’t enjoy that precious moment.”

SAY IT ISN’T SO: Federer completely whiffed on two balls during Switzerland’s Davis Cup loss to the U.S.

THE CRUELEST ANALYSIS: After winning in the second round, Caroline Wozniacki blasted one of those souvenir balls deep up into the stands, which prompted one press room critic to quip, “That’s the best forehand she’s hit in a month.”

RHYMES WITH WITCH: Maria Sharapova brought the sass in an apearance on comedienne Chelsea Handler’s late night show, Chelsea Lately, where the two talked “big bones” (Sharapova: “there’s a lot of bones when you’re 6’1”), Russian men, and gummy bears. The tennis star arrived bearing gifts: pink ballet flats from her new shoe line, a tennis racket, and an itty-bitty teal dress. “You’re an extra-small, right?” Maria quipped. Oh no she didn’t!
Handler: “See, you are a bitch! I like that.”
Maria: “I really am.”
Handler: “You have a reputation for being kind of a bitch, right? Why, are you?”
Maria: “At times.”
Handler: “Do you not hang out with the other tennis girls, is that why people think that?”
Maria: “I’m not exactly, you know, giving them fives in the shower. It’s not my thing. I get out of the locker room as fast as I can. It’s not my hang-out.”
Handler: “That’s good. I like that attitude. You don’t really give a [expletive].”
Sharapova told IT that she once thought Gwyneth Paltrow would be the actress to play her in the movies, but now she’s not sure, and what she really wants to do is write a book which would include [presumably revealing] journal entries she wrote as a kid.

HOW DO YOU SPELL P-R-O-S-P-E-C-T: He looks like he should be an all-county high school linebacker. And based on today’s ‘Isnerian’ standards, the 6’ 1” Ryan Harrison is hardly imposing. But we love the nineteen-year old’s Connors-like ‘tude and sense of battle, his gorgeous service motion, his Chang-like wheels and his (bred-by-jocks) tennis smarts. He wants it all and will leave no stone unturned. America’s next great hope? Who are you gonna call? Jack Sock has a groin injury. Denis Kudla is on the radar screen. But Ryan is something else. Dial him up.

BOLLETTIERI HALL OF FAME SNUB: Brazil’s adored Gustavo Kuerten, who won three French Opens, will be inducted into the International Hall of Fame this July, along with official Mike Davies. But, amazingly, Nick Bollettieri was rejected for the second time in three years. Never mind that he created a niche industry – the tennis academy – and that his Florida center became a fiercely competitive tennis mecca like no other that still draws wannabes from across the globe. No other coach, with the possible exception of Aussie Harry Hopman, has influenced so many. Yes, he is a semi-shameless self-promoter, a happy back-slapping fellow who’s had eight wives and has the best tan this side of Speaker of the House John Boehner, but the still-active 80-year-old does have an eye for talent and, yes, he mentored 10 players who have become No. 1. His overall list includes Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, Boris Becker, Jim Courier, the Williams sisters, Martina Hingis, Jelena Jankovic, Mary Pierce and, of course, Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova. The latter said, Bollettieri “wakes up every morning at 5:30 and pumps those biceps.” Sharapova added that he always kept it very real and was one of the best businessmen she’s met. “Even if he made you cry, he did it with a smile.” BTW our fave Bollettieri point/counterpoint was between Nick and one of his most prized pupils, Agassi. Andre said Nick’s academy was abusive and like a prison. For his part, Nick said “When I had Andre for six years, my main job was to keep him out of jail.” All of which kind of begs the question: is it some kind of crime that Nick, and for that matter Stanford coach Dick Gould, are not in the Hall? Broadcaster Dick Vitale thought so when he wrote: “How can Bill Parcells and Nick not be in the Hall of Fame. CRIMINAL.”

NOT LIKELY TO GET DRAFTED: Six-foot-nine, 245-pound John Isner said it wasn’t likely he (or Andy Roddick for that matter) could make it as an NFL tight end. “One hit across the middle and my ribs would shatter, he said. “So I’d need to put on about 60 pounds, then maybe.”

DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER: Just like last year, Milos Raonic won San Jose and then lost in the Memphis final.

SO YOUNG, SO WISE – RAONIC’S PEACE PROCLAMATION: Born in Montenegro, reared in Canada, Raonic trained in Spain and is the son of highly educated engineers. His uncle was Vice-Prime Minister of Montenegro. So we asked him, “What does it say that Croatians, Montenegrans, Serbians, all seem to get along so well in our sport? He poignantly replied, “There was a big war. There was a lot of turmoil, but sport brought us together. Tennis especially being such an international sport where … [so] many different nations play.
“But, as athletes, we put that behind us and don’t have any preconceptions about anybody. We’re very open …We have learned to be very international, all of us. We try to make the most of it. It definitely helps that the guys are great people. Not only do we get together and do great things together worldwide, but a lot of people come and watch … [and] be part of a great atmosphere and share these moments, whether it’s national pride or whether it’s because you love some player …
“There’s a lot that you can learn from it. Pretty much everybody on tour is a great role model. There’re very few in the business world, very few students that have the discipline you need to be an athlete of this caliber. Everybody can learn from that.”

GO FIGURE: Within a month, Americans John Isner, Mardy Davis, Mike Bryan and Andy Roddick all scored wins over Federer. None were in ATP circuit matches. Isner and Fish and Bryan prevailed in Davis Cup singles and doubles. Roddick won an exo in New York … In Memphis, Milos Raonic hit a 156-mph serve that was out … There’s a Federer stamp, but it’s Austrian not Swiss … The black shirt Djokovic ripped off after winning the Aussie Open was auctioned off for $6,000 … Firey Ryan Harrison, 19, said his goal this year was not to get fined.

USA, USA!: On back-to-back weekends American tennis (so wounded and floundering) celebrated as our Fed Cup and Davis Cup teams both swept to 5-0 wins.

CHINA SYNDROME: France’s Micheal Llodra, who recently had great success in doubles in China, was struggling in his BNP Paribas Open match against Ernsts Gulbis. At a key moment Llodra smashed his racket, hit a ball out of the court and said “you people are s—-.’’ He then called out to Bay Area fans Daniel Lee and his sister and said, “f—- Chinese.” The Lees are actually Korean. After the incident, which was chronicled by reporter Tom Tebbutt, Llodra was fined $2,500. The Frenchman said the fine was too much, what he was doing was just like swearing and that he would be contacting the Lees (but, as of presstime, he had yet to have done so). Chinese hero Li Na reflected on the slur and said, “If the French player say the bad thing to her, I would like to say so sorry, because, we are tennis athletes, so the fans are more important. So doesn’t matter if you’re angry or something, you couldn’t say bad word to the fans … you couldn’t say something bad to the family.”

MARTINA TO DANCE WITH THE STARS: Martina Navratilova, who is a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, has had notable dances before. (She danced with John McEnroe at the Wimbledon Champions ball.) Plus, Martina has done much outside the box, like speaking before a huge gay rights demonstration in D.C., trying to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro for charity, and campaigning for breast cancer awareness. Her upcoming appearance prompted an exchange with shock jock Howard Stern who asked: “What is Martina Navratilova going to wear on Dancing With The Stars? Not a dress! . . . I bet you she’s going to wear a pants suit.” Martina replied, “I hear my favorite radio guy Howard is wondering whether I will wear pants or a dress. Howard –– expect the unexpected!!” She added, “I hear I am the underdog for winning Dancing With the Stars. Been a while since I’ve been an underdog, but that’s cool. We will be ready… “ The last tennis player on DWTS, Monica Seles, flamed miserably.