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Archive for the ‘australian open’ Category

If This Doesn’t Make You Smile …

Posted by gauloises1 on February 19, 2011

… you just aren’t having enough fun in show business.

I can’t believe how hard he works to share the moment with everyone.

Posted in australian open, novak djokovic, video | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

You and Me Could Have a Sad Bromance.

Posted by gauloises1 on January 31, 2011

Q. Did you speak English back when you were 11? Could you talk to him?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I had it in school so already I knew some basic things. Back then, yeah, we were speaking kind of more with the signs, you know, hands and legs and stuff (smiling). He was using more of a Scottish accent, so he was really hard to understand.

Q. You also played doubles with him.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: He had the hair (laughter).

[…] Q. Now is it hard to balance the friendship and the professional rivalry or do you achieve that?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I sent him a message yesterday after his semifinal saying like, Perth final, because we practiced in Perth a couple times this year. We had fun. We played football there. He won, unfortunately.

It’s fun. It’s been a fun couple of weeks. I think we, as well, reconnected a little bit with the friendship in the last 12 months.

Well, we have to forget about all that when we step on the court. It’s all business. I’m sure he’s going to be very eager to win a first Grand Slam title.


“I was letting it [our friendship] go in the last few months and allowing Andy to feel what he wants to feel about our relationship, as friends,” Djokovic said. “If he thinks we should be friends regularly and hang out more or not.”

“That was more or less on him to decide because I always liked him as a person. We grew up together playing junior events, we knew each other really well and had a lot of fun.

“But then we basically came up to the top of tennis at the same time and were rivals. At some stage we were playing a lot of matches against each other and now we haven’t played for a long time.

“Right now I feel we are getting closer because we grew up and this period of three, four years being at the top of men’s tennis has kind of passed and now we know that OK, we are rivals, that’s obvious. But off the court it doesn’t mean that we can’t have dinner or play golf or things like that.

“I definitely wish him to have it [a first grand-slam title] because I think he deserves it. He has all he needs to have in order to be a champion.”


Rah, rah, uncontrollable weeping.

Posted in andy murray, australian open, novak djokovic | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Coming Of Age.

Posted by gauloises1 on January 31, 2011

I remember a few years ago arguing with a Fedal-loving friend about Novak Djokovic. She cited the usual arguments: he’s cocky; his parents are awful; he disrespects his opponents by impersonating them; he retires too much; he’s too desperate to be liked. I pointed out that those things were even at the time too outmoded to be used as evidence, and added that the process of Djokovic growing up, adjusting to his status and learning to own it, and dealing with his own fluctuating confidence was reason enough to want to watch him. She said that not being a child psychologist, she had no interest in seeing him grow up. Fine, I said. But I do.

2011 Australian Open men’s singles champion.


Yes, you.

Novak Djokovic is the champion in Melbourne for a second time, but there’s no illusion of coming full circle. He’s three years older, immeasurably wiser, and a much, much better player. And we all had a chance to see him without his hair for a bit, so now we’re able to fully appreciate it. This story could not be better.

Like a kitten, I tell you.

OK, it could have been better. It would have been, well, nicer for me if his great win didn’t come at the expense of Andy Murray once again falling at the final hurdle, by which we mean looking basically like a chump in a Slam final. I’m so not in the mood to participate in the what’s-wrong-with-Andy-Murray game right now, partly because I don’t think that he showed us anything different in this final to the ones he’s played before; the difference is that it was Djokovic across the net, not Federer, so the disappointment is that much greater apparently. And that’s a point of view that’s not only vaguely disrespectful but totally blind to the player that Djokovic has become over the past six months.

Murray was lame at times, flat at others, and just not there in the way he needed to be. But the disappointment of the last two sets overshadows the brilliance of the first nine games when it looked like it was going to be a fantastic contest, and the main reason that it wasn’t lies in the fact that once Djokovic had the first set in the bag, he simply ran away with the match. Every time Murray did have an opportunity to get back into the match, Djokovic snuffed it out with that pummeling forehand and brilliant defending. Murray will have his moment, but this wasn’t it.

This moment belonged to Djokovic. I didn’t have a chance to talk about Djokovic’s victory over Federer – remarkably stupid scheduling decisions on my part, sorry – but ever since last year’s US Open, he’s looked a different player. Not back to his old self, but a new and better player, with an improved forehand, a smarter tactical sense, and a confidence that seemed rooted deeper and hence less likely to be peeled away by success or the lack of it. After all the losses, heartbreaking and lacklustre alike, his health problems and what looked like an inability to draw a clear line between his life off court and what happened on it, he’s come out of the other side a new man and a better player. And we all got to watch it happen. Tennis is great.

Djokovic has always talked a good game, but I can’t have been the only person impressed by his conduct on Sunday, both on the court and in his press conference. He was poised and mature, looking every inch the champion from the moment he first set foot on Rod Laver; his celebrations were muted, in line with the match; and his victory speech, in which he dedicated the victory to Serbia and took the time to acknowledge the Australian flood victims, was moving.

Q. You took a tough loss here last year, Roland Garros obviously, and then even Wimbledon. Did something happen in between Wimbledon and the hard courts where you regained confidence?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Something switched in my head, because I am very emotional on and off the court. I show my emotions. This is the way I am. Everybody’s different.

The things off court were not working for me, you know. It reflected on my game, on my professional tennis career. But then, you know, I settled some things in my head. It was all on me. You know, I had to try to find the best possible solution and try to get back on the right track. That’s what I did.

Q. Can you talk about some of those secrets that you discovered about yourself that helped you get back on track?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As I said, you know, something switched in my head. It’s been a big mental struggle, because I was trying to separate my, of course, professional life from my more private life.

But, you know, if somebody’s emotional we’re all humans. It’s not possible. If something isn’t working off court, then it’s going to reflect on the court. I managed to solve that problems.

This is all part of life. Of course, everybody’s facing difficult situations in their lives. To overcome the crisis and to stand up and try to still dedicate yourself to the sport was a big success for me as a person.


Developing as a person and a tennis player doesn’t always happen at a constant rate or go in a positive direction, and you only have to look at Andy Murray to know that that’s true. I’m not saying Djokovic is suddenly a saint or is going to be winning everything from now on. He’s just a man, albeit more a man than ever. But right now – for now – he’s absolutely at the peak of the tennis world. And he looks so good there. I hope it lasts.


Posted in andy murray, australian open, novak djokovic, titlists | Tagged: , | 14 Comments »

This Stuff Matters.

Posted by gauloises1 on January 31, 2011

A brief selection of photos I particularly liked. Did you know Li Na / Na Li (still not really happy with that, to be honest) is the first Chinese Slam finalist?

You do now.

Posted in australian open, li na | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Aussie Kim.

Posted by gauloises1 on January 31, 2011

The dust has settled, all bets are in and it’s the bookies’ favourite, Kim Clijsters, holding the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup. If you’d canvassed popular opinion before the tournament, I think most people would have picked Clijsters for the very position she’s in now. But it’s a credit to the Happy Slam (also known as the Oh Help Me God I Need To Sleep Slam) and the WTA that up until the last moment, it never felt like a foregone conclusion.

For the first five rounds, Clijsters did not look in imperious or unbeatable form. Ekaterina Makarova and a match-shy Agnieszka Radwanska both came nicely close to taking a set from her, and the fact that they didn’t really said more about them than Clijsters. Even in the semifinals, when she knocked off Zvonareva 3 and 3, that had more the feeling of the inevitable capitulation of Zvonareva in the big match than Clijsters imposing her will on the Russian. The sparkle of the tournament had largely come from the guts-and-glory play of Svetlana Kuznetsova and Francesca Schiavone, both of whom were out, and in Li Na she was facing probably the form player of the Australian Open who had accounted for Victoria Azarenka, Andrea Petkovic and world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. To summarise, neither in theory nor practice was this match as easy as Clijsters’ last two strolls through Slam finals and Li Na’s surrender of her serve to love in the opening game suggested.

Credit where credit’s due, and Li Na certainly showed up for this match; as the men’s final demonstrated, that’s not necessarily a given. After her initial nerves subsided, she played like a woman enjoying the greatest form and confidence of her career, dominating with her breathtaking all-out aggressive style. She defended and scrambled better than I’ve ever seen her, playing a real all-court game. Unfortunately for her, nobody plays that game better than Clijsters. Her defence is as ridiculously eyecatching as Djokovic’s, and when she starts to alternately bludgeon and find angles with her forehand as she did in the second and third sets, there’s almost nobody who can beat her.

There were moments in this match when the tennis was so fun I lost sight of the fact that it was a Slam final. As Kim’s reaction on championship point shows, she never did. Tearful, almost disbelieving, she looked like someone who’d been wandering in the wilderness a long time, not someone who won the last Slam and was a strong favourite for this one. It was a great surprise to see her react that way, as much as it was to see Li Na taking defeat in her stride and beaming as she talked about her husband and her supporters at home.

God knows, the “mom” angle is done to death when talking about Kim Clijsters, and it drives me crazy; from the hammed-up jaw-dropping amazement that a woman can combine life as a wife and mother with a successful professional career, as if women around the world don’t do that every single day, to the barely-concealed relief that she can be neither unfeminine nor a sex object, because she’s got a working uterus, Jada Jada Jada. Perhaps because it’s the first time that she’s really been pushed in a Slam final since her comeback, I saw with fresh eyes her balls-out competitiveness and willingness to fight, and fierce joy in winning. I love that those things can not just coexist, but reach their peak, in a woman whose family and personal life seem as happy and well-balanced as she does. It felt like such a healthy triumph, and I loved it.

Well done Aussie Kim.

Posted in australian open, kim clijsters, li na, titlists | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Rafa Slammed.

Posted by gauloises1 on January 26, 2011

Or: I owe Ferru and possibly Slams an apology.

David Ferrer d. Rafael Nadal, 64 62 63

I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to be eating my shoes or my hat or my feet right now, but along with many of you, this was not the result I expected to wake up to after staying up late to catch Murray-Dolgopolov and assuming I could get my shuteye in during a routine Nadal win. Even when I got woken up by a text message saying “I’m really frightened for Murray now!”, I assumed the sender meant that Nadal had performed more terrifyingly than usual, and decided to snore some more. Once I finally woke up and saw the result, I decided to watch the match back to see what exactly happened.

I watched it and came to the following conclusion: well done Ferru. And well done Nadal.

As you have no doubt heard by now, Nadal was undoubtedly injured. I couldn’t see exactly what happened, but something happened to his left leg in the second game (clarified later as a muscle tear), and although he managed to regain the service break he’d lost, he called the trainer immediately. As he left the court for evaluation, he looked over to his box, raised his eyebrows, and shook his head. Serious, his face said. And Nadal can say more with his face than just about anyone.

From that point on, his movement was clearly somewhat compromised and the match was there to be taken. That’s not to downplay the achievement of David Ferrer, who played about as well as I’ve seen him. Put the vast majority of players on court with a Nadal who can still run, and still hit, and wants this win about as much as he’s ever wanted anything, and there’s a pretty good chance that Nadal will manage to gut it out. Ferrer shut his friend’s predicament out of his mind and shut Nadal ruthlessly out of the match, then paid tribute to him as a gentleman and a friend. It was about as impressive a display of tennis and sportsmanship as I’ve ever seen, a rare combination of competitive intensity and grace, and a second Slam semi-final is a just reward.

Also, he’s hot.

A clearly crushed Nadal refused to discuss the extent of his injury in his presser:

I had a problem during the match, in the very beginning. […] After that, the match was almost over. So that’s what I can say. But you know what, for me is difficult come here and speak about. In Doha I wasn’t healthy. Today I have another problem. Seems like I always have problems when I lose, and I don’t want to have this image, no? I prefer don’t talk about that today. If you can respect that, will be a very nice thing for me. Thank you.


Of course, as Jon Wertheim puts it, “he can take the high road, but we can’t.” The speculation over the extent of Nadal’s injury and its possible effects is likely to rage for some time and unfortunately tends to overshadow Ferrer’s win. But the encouraging thing for Nadal fans is that … well … it’s not the knees. It’s not tendonitis, it’s not chronic. It’s really unfortunate, but if there’s anybody that can take this on the chin and come back, it’s Nadal. He’s done it before.

Ferrer meanwhile will play Andy Murray in the semifinals after Muzz beat Dolgopolov in a scrappy four-set performance. In the interests of not jinxing or giving myself a stress-induced heart-attack, I’m just going to sort of pretend Murray doesn’t exist for now. OK?


Posted in andy murray, australian open, david ferrer, rafael nadal | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Business End of Slams Can Be a Bit Dull.

Posted by gauloises1 on January 25, 2011

Too good.

Too focussed on tennis.

Too …. fond of sleeping?

Too outclassed.

Too fucking epic for this Slam.

That concludes your pictorial round-up of a slightly boring day nine at the Australian Open.

Posted in andrea petkovic, australian open, caroline wozniacki, francesca schiavone, li na, novak djokovic, roger federer, stanislas wawrinka, tomas berdych | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Word on Day Eight.

Posted by gauloises1 on January 24, 2011

Few of the men and women cracking me up today. Good quotes.

Q. You’re so different, at least you seem so different, to Pistolesi. He is always telling jokes. I don’t know if he does it with you. But I know him since he was 18 years old. Do you like the company also or you don’t see away from tennis?

ROBIN SODERLING: No, we spend a lot of time together. He’s a great guy.

I think you’re wrong. I think we’re very similar. It’s just that I don’t tell you guys jokes (smiling).

Q. Well, start.

ROBIN SODERLING: No (smiling).


He’s a funny guy.

Q. Do you have a favorite Billy Connolly joke?

ANDY MURRAY: No. That’s the thing. We used to listen to it all the time, from maybe like 10, 11 years old until I was up to 15, 16. Then I haven’t seen that much of his stuff for a little while. I’m hoping I’m going to be able to go along and see it. We got a few little tidbits when we were talking to him.

My mum and dad were pretty lenient with that stuff. Probably why my language is so bad on the court (smiling).



Q. It was a very exciting and tough match. In the end you lost. Why do you think you lost?
SHUAI PENG: Bad luck (smiling).

[…] The tennis is like this. Like sometimes you down, you win. Sometimes you up, you lose.


Wise words.

Q. Maybe next time you go into a Grand Slam, you should have no practice and no matches.

AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Yeah, I think I should have surgery before every Grand Slam definitely


Q. Do you find it distracting when everybody is calling out, I love you, Rafa?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I feel fantastic (laughter).

Q. Are you able to block it out?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I heard everything. But is nice (smiling).

Q. What about when the girls whistle at you and take pictures of you when you’re changing your shirt?

RAFAEL NADAL: That’s a very good feeling (smiling).

Q. Could you tell us more about this Armani campaign? Was it a good experience? What do you think of the pictures?

RAFAEL NADAL: Was a long experience, but very good experience, no? Is always nice to know different worlds. The fashion world is something that I didn’t know before.

Yeah, was a good session of photos, long one. But hopefully the result are satisfactory, so… I worked very hard, seriously (laughter). So, yeah, was nice. A different experience and I enjoyed.

Q. Do you find you sexy on the picture?

RAFAEL NADAL: I’m not the right person to say. I always watch myself so so. But what do you think? Do you like it?


Nothing puts Rafa in a good mood like beating one of my favourites.

And my favourite quote of the day …

Q. You won the first set, then what happened after that?

FLAVIA PENNETTA: She won the second and the third.


Ask a stupid question …

Posted in agnieszka radwanska, andy murray, australian open, flavia pennetta, rafael nadal, robin soderling, shuai peng | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Every Mum Needs An Aga.

Posted by gauloises1 on January 24, 2011

Give it up for Agnieszka Radwanska, who battled through three sets with Peng Shuai to be rewarded with a quarter-final against Kim Clijsters.

Having missed every match of Radwanska’s since her very narrow win over Kimiko Date-Krumm in the first round, I’ve got to be honest and say that I’m amazed to see her here. This is her first tournament since Beijing, but she seems to have got better with every round, and a win over Peng Shuai – who’s improved immeasurably of late – is impressive, even if she did have to save two match points to get there.

Kim on the other hand put in another … adequate performance against Makarova. She’s not been impressive at any stage so far, but she still won in straight sets. She’ll step it up against Radwanska, I’ve no doubt.

Posted in agnieszka radwanska, australian open, kim clijsters | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Spaniard on Spaniard.

Posted by gauloises1 on January 24, 2011

All is set for the fifteenth meeting between Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer. Imagine my excitement.

Rafa, wearing what for him is a distinctly baggy shirt, looks to be recovered from his fever and put in probably his best performance of the tournament so far in defeating Marin Cilic 62 64 63. He didn’t play his best, but he really didn’t have to; it was businesslike more than anything, not expending too much energy and giving Marin enough rope to hang himself (these days, a tennis racquet).

It’s a step forward for Marin to have won three consecutive matches to get this far, but his performance today was a perfect example of everything that’s bedevilled his game for the last 12 months; lack of first serves, lack of confidence, lack of confidence and lack of confidence. He consistently managed to get to 30 or deuce on Rafa’s serve, but from there only got three break points which he couldn’t convert, and he didn’t help his cause by getting irritated by Rafa’s slow pace of play, which will never change despite getting twice warned by the umpire. He wasn’t anywhere near good enough today.

David Ferrer was too good for young Canadian qualifier Milos Raonic, who took the first set but couldn’t sustain the red-hot quality of play that has got him through the tournament so far. Hurt by a lack of first serves, he was predictably outsteadied by Ferru, who played well and was sweet to him at the net.

I really wish I could muster some excitement about Nadal-Ferrer in the quarterfinals, but there’s a reason that Ferrer’s not won since 2007, and as well as he’s playing right now, I don’t see that changing.

Enjoy happy Ferru while it lasts.

Posted in australian open, david ferrer, marin cilic, milos raonic, rafael nadal | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »