1- Victoria Azarenka continues to march through the tournament. She beat BZS, and will face Domi in the fourth round.
But, most importantly, Brian Phillips over at Grantland wrote about her, and you should read it:
What are you going to do? If you’re Sharapova — if you’re a lot of athletes, of both genders — you’re going to subtly tone down your peachiness while presenting yourself as a sort of amorphous pan-fruit entity onto which your fans can project their own desires. That’s not a bad decision, necessarily, for someone who has to live in the world. It’s a realist’s decision, and it’s understandable. If you’re Azarenka, though? You’re going to be a peach. You’re going to be yourself, as loudly as you want to be. My wish for her is sentimental, but here it is: May she stay true to the person she feels herself becoming. And may all her press transcripts end with (smiling).
2- Venus Williams, you guys. VENUS WILLIAMS. She defeated Camila Giorgi 4-6, 7-6, 6-1.
I have watched a lot of Venus matches over the past decade, and particularly over the last four years, I’ve seen her lose matches like that one vs. Giorgi over and over and over again.
But this time, she figured it out. She was patient. She changed tactics. And she got better and more confident in herself and in her game as the match went on. She’s into the fourth round of a major for the first time since 2011 Wimbledon, and the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time since 2010. She’ll face Agnieszka Radwanska, which should be a fantastic match.
She was also, as usual, pretty fucking great in press:
Q: How much does this run mean to you? First time making it to the second week of slam since you revealed the diagnosis. What does it mean? Is it a breakthrough?
VENUS WILLIAMS: For me, I always believe in my ability, but sometimes, you know, you don’t get results for whichever reason. Could be many. I think as long as I know that I’ve got it in me, that’s it. Like I said, I’ve won big. It’s not like I haven’t done it before. I said this the other day: For me, I like to win titles. I like to win titles, whether it’s a smaller event or a big event. That’s what I play for. So, yes, great, it’s great to be in the second week. But is fourth round my goal when I come to these tournaments? No.
Q: You’ve been a role model, fought for equal rights. There was a situation with Shahar Peer. Of course, on court you’ve won so many slams and Olympics. In your own mind, aside from being a great sister and a family person, what really has given you the most satisfaction out of your career? Is there one or two things? Can you just talk about that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it’s not something I reflect on every day. Obviously being a part of the movement for equal prize money was — it wasn’t anything I planned for. It’s just something you find yourself involved in. I think that’s what Billie Jean says well, that all the things she did, numerous things for women’s tour, women’s rights, Women’s Sports Foundation, Title IX. All those things she didn’t wake up and say, That’s my plan. You just see something, and if there is an inequality, you stand up for it. There are a lot of things I didn’t plan on that have been amazing moments as well.
Q: Has it gotten easier over the years to learn to live with your medical condition and deal with everything that comes along with it. The exercise and the diet, that has gotten easier. You got the hang of it now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sometimes. I just — I do my best every single day. That’s pretty much the way it goes. I think just not being afraid is the most important thing.
3- Goran Ivanisevic is helping out Malek Jaziri
Jaziri fell to Kyrgios in the third round on Friday, but continues to show his potential. This piece by Reem Abulleli is a must-read:
With many Arab tennis federations lacking funds and resources, it is common that a player from the region would have no real set-up for his tennis career. But at this level, for a player who has reached the third round of a grand slam and is ranked inside the top-75, going at it solo seems inconceivable to Ivanisevic.
“He’s lost in space and he’s No70 in the world,” Ivanisevic told Sport360 ahead of Jaziri’s third round clash with Nick Kyrgios on Friday.
“We really became great friends in the IPTL, he’s an unbelievable guy. He is a great talent but he has no idea about tennis – no coach, he doesn’t practice, he doesn’t go to the gym, and he’s No70 in the world. So he’s an unbelievable talent.”
4- Another complete dud of a Slam for John Isner
Isner fell in straight sets to Gilles Muller, which is just, well, ugh.
John Isner had to throw his racket twice to break it, second one did the job https://t.co/j7ewETgKGP
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) January 24, 2015
However, I did enjoy this piece by Dave Gertler about Muller’s big comeback from injury. Nice moment for him.
5- This Madison Brengle story is just insane, you guys
I watch a lot of tennis and particularly pay attention to the Americans and I couldn’t have picked her out of a line-up a few weeks ago.
@Hurleytennis @linzsports She cracked the top 100 for the 1st time on September 29th. At 24. After failing to qualify for 27 slams.
— Victoria Chiesa (@vrcsports) January 24, 2015
She’s also very charming:
Q. Who is with you here? Who is part of your team?
MADISON BRENGLE: Well, this week and last week, my really, really good friend Phil Simmones, he works up in New York at McEnroe’s. He came to two tournaments with me. It’s been really good having him here. Hitting partner, coach, having another set of eyes on me. It’s been great having him here.
Q. Any family?
MADISON BRENGLE: No. My parents are at home. My mom stayed up to watch it, but my dad went to sleep, yeah. I think he gets so nervous, so I don’t think that was — that wasn’t going to happen.
Q. What have those conversations been like after your matches calling home?
MADISON BRENGLE: My mom is just obsessed with the towels. Did you get another towel? Mom, I won. She’s like, But the towels. So, all right, got our priorities straight.
That being said, what a dud of a match from CoCo Vandeweghe, who let a fantastic opportunity completely fall through her fingers. Getting big upsets is one thing, but you’ve got to be able to back them up to really make them count.
6- MADISON KEYS!!!
That is all.
1- Madison Keys is not afraid
I really thought that Keys was going to be a lot more nervous facing Petra Kvitova in the last match of the day in the third round of the first slam the year. I mean, come on. That’s nerve-wracking.
Well, not if you’re Madison, apparently. She played great! She played confidently, she didn’t let up even when Kvitova kept breaking back to take away her advantages. If she was broken back she just stepped up to the baseline and broke Kvitova again. It looked simple, and it was mighty impressive.
Of course, Kvitova was not playing her best. You’ve still got to win though, and it’s not like Kvitova gives you nice easy balls to hit. The balls used in that match will be well and truly deflated.
Anne Keothavong, who has good twitter game by the way, summed it up perfectly:
I think Kvitova and Keys should try hitting the ball a bit harder
— Anne Keothavong (@annekeothavong) January 24, 2015
2- The old cat still has some tricks
Lindsay, I know you already mentioned Vee, but I just need to say that as the only human being to have put her down on paper as the winner of this tournament, today was also an important victory for me and all my fans. Well done, #EcclesCakes!
Note: an Eccles cake is a gross British raisin pastry thing, and it is what I assume my non-existent fans would offer me as a gift, like with Genie and teddy-bears.
ANYWAY, next round Venus has to face Radwanska…I don’t know about that…I just don’t know. Maybe the old cat will surprise us with another new trick:
MCA loves #Venus Williams #ausopen http://t.co/zH8S8SSgBp
— Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) January 24, 2015
3- Nervous Verdasco is not a good Verdasco
This was not a good second serve:
Welp not a great 2nd serve. https://t.co/JOv8RwrRtk
— Tony (@tjc05) January 24, 2015
The nerves really cost him that first set, and ultimately any chance of threatening Novak in that match.
4- We maybe haven’t given Cibulkova enough credit
Dominika is still in the tournament going into week 2! I think most of us thought that the defending finalist would have bowed out by now and subsequently taken a nosedive in the rankings, but instead she has quietly moved the draw defending plenty of points. I was certain that Alize Cornet would end her run in round 3 today…nope!
With much “POME!” and some very solid tennis, Cibulkova went through with a respectable scoreline of 7-5 6-2.
5- Aga is not messing
She has won a bagel set in every match so far. Agnieszka Radwanska. Think about that for a moment. Think about her serve. Think about how exhausted she usually makes herself reaching the second week, and think about how well she’s done at the slams anyway.
That is exciting for her 2015 prospects.
6- Today was the 24th of January, which is Djokovic’s mum’s birthday!
And so, inevitably, Novak put on a performance of ‘Happy Birthday’ that easily beats Azarenka’s infamous attempt at the same tune:
7- This should never be allowed to happen
THIS IS NOT ROMANTIC.
WHY DID YOU SAY YES?! HE PROPOSED IN A STADIUM. SAY NO, HE NEEDS TO LEARN.
Ugh. It needs to be under a tree or maybe on a boat, with picnic food and absolutely not in front of thousands of people and streamed live to the world.
But congratulations. Whatever.