1. Bernard Tomic’s impromptu presser didn’t really provide any new developments, but did lend itself to some humor:
Maybe Bernie's the one who added "Mad Dog" to Marinko's wiki. #possibleBerniepressertopics
— Lindsay Gibbs (@linzsports) January 15, 2014
Bernie called a press conference to talk about his junk. #headlinesmadesimple
— Davey (@ovafanboy) January 15, 2014
"Had I played one minute more, I would have died. Did you want my blood on your hands?" ~B. Tomic
— Davey (@ovafanboy) January 15, 2014
2. Luksika Kumkhum, the 88th-ranked 20-year-old who beat Petra Kvitova in the first round of the Aussie Open, fell to the more experienced Mona Barthel in three entertaining sets. The Thai youngster has a really impressive game. She plays with two hands on both sides, her forehand is pretty huge, and she hits with nice depth on both sides. Her second serve isn’t extremely attackable, and she can fire off aces with her first serve. I want to see a lot more from her this year.
3. Roger Federer calls Stan Wawrinka, “Stanimal.”
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) January 15, 2014
4. This would be really fun:
@tennisabstract Are we keeping to the mental state+animal formula? I suggest "Happy Giraffe" for Del Potro & "Ambivalent Seagull" for Gublis
— PhantomofAllOrange (@PhantomofOrange) January 15, 2014
Tobias Kamke, “The Camcorder”
Jiri “Flying Tortoise” Vesely
5. Nikolay Davydenko had some stuff to say (in Russian) about Richard Gasquet. Here’s the gist:
''Gasquet play a level not so amazing, he play last year the same. I don't see like real improvement, he don't surprise me.'' …Davydenko
— Tennis Ka Achaar (@t_achaar) January 15, 2014
1. Jerzy Janowicz is somehow still alive at the Australian Open. Once again, he was thoroughly mediocre for significant portions of his four-set win over Pablo Andújar, but found just enough competence to survive. Which was a good thing; by beating Andújar, Jerzy defended last year’s third round points successfully. Florian Mayer awaits, and while that match has the potential to be quite entertaining, it can also turn out like today’s long (3 hrs 25 mins) and tortuous session.
Speaking of it, this little exchange with Nick Lester, who was providing commentary for the match alongside Leif Shiras, says it all, really:
@juanjosetennis and there have been quite a few 🙂
— Nick Lester (@nicklester) January 15, 2014
2. Belinda Bencic came quite close to forcing Li Na into a deciding set in her Rod Laver Arena debut. The 16-year-old is impressive, and became the subject of another Prospect Evaluation.
3. Speaking of youngsters, Madison Keys lost a match she had no business losing. For starters, she served twice for the first set against Zheng Jie, failed both times, and lost it in a tiebreaker. She then proceeded to dominate the second set, and was up two breaks in the decider at 4-1. However, she quickly lost the lead, as well as her cool, and eventually, the match.
These are the tough lessons young players inevitably need to learn. All the greats have suffered traumatic defeats like this one, and Madison hasn’t even played 60 matches at the WTA level. However, watching her overcome the first set and build that huge lead in the third made me feel more certain than ever that she’s definitely “happening.” Keys is clearly on her way to becoming an elite athlete, has improved her shots when she’s forced to hit on the run, and possesses more than enough weapons to take over a match. She’s ranked at No. 36 at the moment, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she finishes the year inside the top 15.
4. Alison Riske seems like a truly neat individual. I usually loathe those on-set interviews, but Riske is simply phenomenal in them. There’s no prefabricated discourse when she’s involved – it’s all genuine humanity. It’s really impossible not to root for her.
5. Few people on the ATP tour can hit the ball like Fabio Fognini. I recommend looking for the match point he converted against Jarkko Nieminen. It’s one of the most violent return of serve winners I’ve seen in a long, long time.
6. Tsvetana Pironkova definitely left everything she had in Sydney. And her thigh just wouldn’t allow her to put up more of a fight against Sam Stosur.
Related: who knew Stosur could look dominant in Australia?
7. I found it hard to believe that amidst the controversy around the extreme temperatures in Melbourne, the Australian Open would run this shameless piece on their site, which includes a comical disclaimer at the bottom.
Partially related: there were PLENTY of empty seats around the courts today.
8. The infamous Rod Laver ATP night match between Vasek Pospisil and “local hero” (those are words from the commentators, not mine) Matthew Ebden was a surreal experience. The back injury that forced Pospisil out of Chennai flared up pretty much as soon as the match started, and you could see that the Canadian was struggling. Vasek couldn’t cover certain areas of the court very well (or at all), and there were a couple of moments when a retirement seemed imminent. A medical timeout seemed to help a little, but Pospisil kept grimacing. Fortunately for him, his back injury didn’t disrupt his serve, and Ebden is an atrocious returner.
Regardless, the Aussie should have won the match. Pospisil wasn’t faking anything, and yet, managed to win in four sets. Later he would say that he probably “overdosed on painkillers,” which provided the final push in the third set breaker and the fourth set. It was an incredible feat, and one I’m not sure actually happened, due to how surreal it was.
1. It was great to see Rosco Hutchins back on court yesterday after being off of the tour all of last year with cancer. He and Colin Fleming got a first-round win in doubles, their first win of the comeback.
— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) January 15, 2014
I loved this from his press conference:
Q. What’s the response been like from the locker room players? It’s all over Twitter.
ROSS HUTCHINS: Yeah, you know, it’s strange, because you have certain people you’re close to, especially sort of the Aussies, the Americans, people you hang around with.
There are a lot of people I have known since I was maybe under 16, same guys you seem to hang around with. You sort of build up good friendships with them over the years.
So it’s actually been nice to see a lot of people. I have had a huge amount of support.
But it’s also I don’t want people to feel sorry for me, as well. Like after we lost in the first week, you know, Chardy was saying to his coach he felt bad for beating me.
I’m like, No, don’t. I’m a player and I want to be treated as a player. Today again at the end of the match the guys shake hands, like it’s great to be back. That’s really nice, because it means a lot to me to have people actually say at that to me because I did miss the tour a lot, and especially I missed playing with Colin and hanging around with the guys and just seeing the guys that you see week in and week out.
It’s meant a lot to me to have the support. At the same time, I want to be treated as another player who, you know, has just as much chance to win or lose and to be ruthless out there with these other guys and just to become a better competitor and to win matches on our own, not for people taking pity on us, which hopefully they don’t. We can beat them on our own merits.
2. Okay, so, the Tomic presser. For those of you who don’t know, midday in Australia yesterday, Tomic caused a stir when he called a press conference. It was the day after he had retired from his match against Nadal after one set, and he had already done a press conference the night before, so this was a bit alarming. (The last time I remember a tennis player doing something like this was when Andy Roddick announced his retirement.)
Tomic: Scans confirmed that "obviously I was right." #ausopen
— Steve Tignor (@SteveTignor) January 15, 2014
But Bernie didn’t have any life-altering news, he just wanted to confirm that he was, in fact, injured, and had been correct to withdraw. Basically he wanted to shut up the h8ers. His injury will keep him out 1-3 weeks–not a crazy amount of time, but it will likely keep him out of Davis Cup.
My feelings? Calling a presser in the middle of a busy Grand slam day when you’re out of the tournament isn’t going to help anything. Have your PR guy or girl release a press release. Use social media. (Seriously–Bernie on social media would be great.) But, other than that, let the news cycle continue and move onto someone else. There was no need for this to be a press conference. None.
That being said, people questioning injuries is THE WORST. I hate this “tough guy” motif that says playing through pain makes you a WARRIOR. Most of the time it’s just stupid. (See: Simon, Gilles.) Media and fans need to stop that bullshit.
Every time I think about Tomic's father & his upbringing, I want to give him a pass, it's the mom in me #ausopen
— Dianne (@Champingthebit) January 15, 2014
3. This is my new favorite thing.
— Amer Delic (@AmerDelic) January 15, 2014
4. Hey Stan.
Stan mops the sweat off his face with his shirt (pic by me) pic.twitter.com/bh9jWGeyja
— Zoe Rogers (@zoejrogers) January 15, 2014
5. Sam Querrey beat Ernests Gulbis in straight sets. That’s a solid win for Sam. I’m going to be watching the match later, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that came about.
In the meantime, here’s a great piece on Querrey by Matt Cronin.