Public spats, stunning press conferences and alleged threats have all overshadowed the first week of the 2019 Australian Open.
And Tennis Australia has referred to recent goings-on in a statement that urged players to live the organisation’s values of “excellence, loyalty, teamwork and humility.”
The statement – released late on Friday evening – did not name Bernard Tomic, Lleyton Hewitt or Nick Kyrgios directly, instead shining a light on the efforts of the five Australians who have reached the third round at Melbourne Park.
Breaking his silence, Tennis Australia’s chief tennis officer Matt Dwyer said: “Ash Barty’s terrific win today continues an exciting new era in Australian tennis that has gathered momentum in the last couple of weeks.
“Tonight Alex de Minaur and Kim Birrell are playing the biggest matches of their young careers and we have no doubt they will acquit themselves well.
“The common denominator of these successes, along with the wonderful wins last night for Alex Bolt and Alexei Popyrin, has been each players’ unwavering passion to compete and their genuine love of the game, all underpinned by the Tennis Australia values of excellence, loyalty, teamwork and humility.”
Dwyer went on to suggest that “support and opportunities” would only be offered to players who met standards.
“Support and opportunities will be offered to players who live these values and demonstrate the commitment to maximise their potential, with our ultimate ambition being to develop and foster athletes we can all be proud of,” he added.
Our wrap-up of the weird and the wonderful on day five at the Open begins with who else, but Nick Kyrgios.
Those watching Roger Federer’s straight-sets win over Taylor Fritz on the Nine Network were surprised by the voice of the Australian.
Kyrgios, out of the singles and the doubles at the Open, has turned his hand to commentary with some unexpected downtime at Melbourne Park.
And his insight and analysis were particularly good, despite admitting he was “so nervous” on the broadcast.
Kyrgios, who was amazed by some of Federer’s shots, even poked fun at himself during the Nine coverage.
Told both on court and in his post-match press conference that Kyrgios was commentating his match, Federer told reporters: “We need him to play first before commentating!
“He’s always good for a headline. Look, I like Nick. I like the way he plays and all that.
“Yeah, I was happy to hear that he was in the commentary booth.
“He’s got a bit of time, sticks around, shows he’s passionate about the game. That’s what we need to see.
“But we wish he was on the court rather than a commentary booth. But I hope he did a good job.”
Typically kind, Roger.
‘She doesn’t really talk to anybody’
Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova are far from the best of friends.
The pair met in an enthralling three-setter on Friday as Sharapova set up a fourth-round meeting with Ashleigh Barty.
Wozniacki was quizzed about her relationship with Sharapova after defeat and said: “I think our terms are the same as they have always been.
“I think she doesn’t really talk to anybody and just, you know, has her team and has her own thing. And that’s that.
“I do my thing – I have my friends. And that’s that.”
A statement … or a promo?
The sight of two fans in wedding dresses on Margaret Court Arena prompted this Tweet from one of tennis’ most popular writers.
Two women in wedding dresses sitting together in Margaret Court Arena, which bears the name of one of the loudest and most vitriolic voices on the losing side of Australia's gay marriage debate. #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/i7oPQy9MAe
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 18, 2019
But other eagle-eyed observers suggested it could have been a cross-promotion for an upcoming Nine Network show. Time will tell …
All part of the job
Player-turned-coach Ivan Ljubicic has had a big role in Roger Federer’s success in recent years.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 18, 2019
Was keeping Roger’s kids happy on the job description?