Down Under Diary, Day Eight
by James Buddell|
Time To Relax
Tomas Berdych prepared for his Australian Open quarter-final against 2008 titlist Novak Djokovic by visiting Melbourne Zoo with his girlfriend, WTA pro Lucie Safarova. World No. 1 and 2009 winner Rafael Nadal also paid his annual visit to the Melbourne aquarium earlier on Monday.
Andy Murray invited fellow Scot and comedian Billy Connolly to watch his fourth round match against Jurgen Melzer. When asked by Channel 7 on-court interviewer Jim Courier to give the crowd a stand-up performance, Connolly shouted, "Leave me alone." Murray ended his post-match interview with Courier by admitting his physio, Andy Ireland, believed in aliens. "That guy there in the blue shirt, he believes in aliens.”
Murray and Connolly met for the first time in the players' lounge after his 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 win over Melzer. "We used to listen to him on cassettes [on the way to tournaments]," said Murray. "He's obviously a very, very funny guy. He's very normal, too."
The 23-year-old Scot also revealed to The Australian, in his exclusive newspaper column, that he has recently "worn a pink tracksuit [as a forfeit]. Not just once, but for three days straight. It is not something I am proud of - it was embarrassing - but something I had no choice over. I had to wear it to practice, to dinner, everywhere.
"Some of the others are more brutal in other ways. There have been many of them, too. Once at the apartment block where I live in Miami, the loser had to walk up and down 45 flights of stairs."
Things You Didn't Know About Dolgopolov
The Sydney Morning Herald lists 10 things you don't know about World No. 46 Alexandr Dolgopolov, who advanced to the Australian Open quarter-finals at the expense of Robin Soderling. "He doesn't like watching sport, or sport on TV. Or TV, full-stop. He'd rather spend time with friends, or drive his Subaru." He likes playing computer games and is "laid back to the point of drowsiness."
Bollettieri Previews Tuesday's Quarter-finals
American coach Nick Bollettieri has previewed Tuesday's quarter-finals, featuring four-time former champion Roger Federer against Stanislas Wawrinka and 2008 titlist Novak Djokovic versus Berdych.
Bollettieri, on the first all-Swiss major quarter-final in the Open Era, admits, "Playing his good friend, Wawrinka, isn’t going to be easy for Federer. You know what both men are going to do, but the difference to me is Federer’s variety and his ability to turn defence into offence so quickly."
Bollettieri says he is looking forward to the Djokovic-Berdych match-up. "This is the match I am most looking forward to watching. This match could really go either way. If the heat is a factor then Berdych gets the advantage, if Berdych has any mental lapses than Djokovic will jump all over him."
Annacone, Coach To "Great People"
Paul Annacone, a former World No. 12, who has coached Pete Sampras (1995-2002), Tim Henman (2003-2007) and Federer (since July 2010), told The New York Times he feels "really lucky" to have coached three great players and great people.
“I do feel really lucky,” said Annacone. “Not only have I been with these two guys, I’ve also been with Tim Henman, a perennial top-10 player and one of the best guys ever as a person to walk on a tennis court. So I’ve been with three great players and more importantly, three great people, so sometimes, I wake up and go ‘Wow’, and I do feel kind of blessed to have had this opportunity.
“But I think part of my good fortune, I hope, is because of my work ethic and personality and the perspective that I view the game with and the history I have soaked up as a bit of a sponge in the last 25 years.”
Spaniards Welcome Raonic
Milos Raonic spent six weeks at his new training base in Barcelona, competing with Spanish players. World No. 7 David Ferrer, who Raonic lost to on Monday, even invited the Canadian to stay at his house and train with him in Valencia.
"It was just a matter of time, you could see. Everyone in the locker room, we all knew he was going to explode at some point," Ferrer told The Montreal Gazette. His new coach Galo Blanco added, "He was practicing all the off-season with the big guys (in Spain), and let me tell you, he beat them 90 per cent of the time in all the practices."
Blanco thought Raonic would break into the Top 100 of the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings by June and perhaps end the season in the Top 40. After beating Michael Llodra and Mikhail Youzhny at Melbourne Park, those projections might have to be revised.
"I'm going to play a few weeks now consecutively," said Raonic, after his four-set loss to Ferrer. "I'm going to try to maintain this level. These next upcoming tournaments, I feel like I can go in and do a lot of damage and keep improving my ranking a lot. I feel like I have to bulk up a bit and get more lean in the upper body. The next [tournament on the] schedule is going to be Johannesburg. I'm going to fly out over the next few days. I got quallies there."
Courier On American Tennis
Former World No. 1 Courier talked about the lack of an American representative in the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time since 1987. The 1992 and 1993 champion and US Davis Cup captain said: "I think American tennis, from a depth perspective, is lighter than it's been since the beginning of open tennis.
"We have a passion for it, but that passion has probably been diluted because other sports have grown and surpassed tennis as tennis has gone international. I don't think America has any right to create star tennis players, it's a matter of DNA. When you grow the pool internationally, DNA doesn't know where it was born, it just knows it's got the capability of being great. [But] you can't create a champion, you can only nourish them when they decide to play your sport."
Olympians Hit Melbourne Park
Australian Olympians Sophie Edington, a swimmer, hurdler Kyle Vander-Kuyp and softball player Natalie Titcume visited the Fan Zone at Australian Open.