- Australian Open, Plays of the Day
Tag team causes doubles trouble
Trading forehands for bodyslams
Maybe it was the heat getting to the players, but the men's doubles match between Feliciano Lopez-Juan Monaco and Mahesh Bhupathi-Leander Paes descended into farcical scenes resembling the WWE. After the Indian pair 'chest bounced' (technical term) off each other after winning a set, their opponents came to the net to start a war of words that lasted five minutes. The umpire came down to cool tensions but Lopez simply told him to get back in his chair. Then after the match (which the Indians won), there was a repeat of the altercations at what was supposed to be a cordial net handshake. The Argentine later put the disagreement down to disrespectful provocations from Bhupathi and Paes, including calling out 'Vamos!' after winning points. There were also rumours of players aiming serves at the non-receiving player. Hardly the Hardy Boyz, but after all this is only tennis. Doubles was supposed to be fun!
Failing the power play
Going out of the competition at the hands of Andy Murray wasn't enough for Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who also felt the need to embarrass himself along the way. Frustrated at his performance, during the second set Garcia-Lopez attempted to smack a ball out of the enormous Rod Laver Arena to relieve the tension after losing yet another service game (don't you just hate it when that happens?). But even that did not go right for the world No. 32, as the ball bounced on top of the roof once and fell right back into the court. The say it is better to try and fail than never try at all, but the beaten Garcia-Lopez conclusively proved that is not always the case.
Ace work from record breaker
Congratulations are due to Milos Raonic, the man with the typically Canadian-sounding name who has become the first Canadian to reach the fourth round of a grand slam since Daniel Nestor way back in (the year formerly known as Prince's favourite) 1999. The giant 20-year-old overpowered 10th seed Mikhail Youzhny on Saturday, sending down 31 aces including the fastest of the tournament (143mph). Unsurprisingly the world No. 152 leads the field in that category - and is now set to move well up the rankings whether or not he beats Michael Llodra in the next round. Montenegro-born, Raonic's uncle is the European country's vice-president. Which is irrelevant, but nice to know.
In this age of carefully media-trained professionals, it's refreshing when - as Caroline Wozniacki did on Friday - players go off book and just say what they feel. Or at least, they are too tired from their efforts to say what they mean and we can twist it into something far more than it actually is. Step forward Andy Murray, paying the beaten Garcia-Lopez the greatest of respect... sorry, least of respect after his third round victory.
Murray: "It is very hard to concentrate in this heat for long periods but I've done that and that's why I've been able to win in straight sets. But it's been a lot easier than the scorelines suggest. Whoops, I mean it's harder than the scoreline suggests!"
Pull the other one, Andy. The Spaniard couldn't even hit a ball out of the court, for crying out loud!
You can do it if you B&Q it
Casual sporting fans might operate under the illusion that grand slam events exhibit the very best in organisation and facilities. Not true. For the second day running the Australian Open was disrupted due to problems with the playing surface - not what you would call a minor complaint. Generally - although this is just an educated guess - courts are pretty important to tennis matches. So how was the problem (air bubbles under the Hisense Arena leaving 'soft spots') rectified? At snooker events they relay the baize under such circumstances ... at tennis ones they just drill a few holes in the ground. A quick trip down the local hardware store, a bit of drilling and a bit of banging and the court was as good as new.
"Maybe it was comical to you," Maria Sharapova, who was afflicted by the problem on Friday, said. "But it wasn't really comical to us. We warmed up and had to sit and wait for a while."