On day three of the Australian Open the biggest names in tennis stepped up a gear – but not all were happy talking about it.
There’s also Angelique Kerber’s birthday celebration, a Federer family no-show plus more in today’s edition of The Daily Deuce.
Wawrinka in no mood to play promoter
Stanislas Wawrinka’s second-round win over Steve Johnson moved him one step closer to what would have been a much-anticipated clash with Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round.
The Aussie’s infamous sledge towards Wawrinka in a 2015 match in Montreal generated worldwide headlines – and a very public falling out.
They’ve played twice since, winning one match each, but have never met at a grand slam, and that, added to the fact both are excellent players and Kyrgios is on home soil, would have made for a fascinating match.
But when asked by The New Daily if a clash with Kyrgios had crossed his mind at all, Wawrinka sternly replied: “No.”
And that was that. Perhaps he didn’t want to add to the build-up. But, as it turned out, the Aussie’s early exit means he won’t be on the other side of the net in the round of 16.
In stark contrast to Stan …
When Roger Federer strolled into his media conference shortly afterwards Wawrinka’s appearance, he was in a good mood.
The Swiss maestro faces 10th seed Tomas Berdych in the third round and was talking about how tough the match would be.
But when reminded by The New Daily of his recent record against the Czech player – Federer has won the past five, including last year’s Australian Open quarter-final – he said: “If you look at it that way, that’s a good thing.
“I did feel like I actually played him quite well in recent times. Thanks for reminding me. I appreciate it (laughs). It’s good to come into the press like that.”
‘I have to talk about this every interview’
Venus Williams’ long and illustrious career has crossed generations in tennis, and with that comes the same questions, over and over again.
The 36-year-old was asked about the changes to the sport she’s witnessed in her career – and she’s clearly fed up with the question.
“I have to talk about this every interview,” she said after her second-round match.
“I’ve played some of the greats like Steffi Graf, I’ve even had the chance to play against Martina Navratilova …”
She at least tried to give an original answer, saying: “It’s been an honour and a privilege to, I guess, start that young and play this old, I don’t know.”
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 18, 2017
The dark side of the Australian Open
The Melbourne press has cleverly found a tennis drama … at a train station a few kilometres away. According to the Herald-Sun, fans on their way to Melbourne Park via Flinders Street station are confronted with a homeless camp, drug use and general untidiness.
News Corp reporters claim that more than a dozen rough sleepers line the footpath outside of Flinders Street Station and have been seen acting aggressively towards international tourists. Eek!
Police tried to evacuate the area earlier this week, but many returned days later, with dirty bedding, rubbish, food scraps and discarded clothes littering the main travel hub, reports say.
Local shops and business owners have complained and said the police are not doing enough, saying their calls are going unanswered.
Nobody at Melbourne Park, meanwhile, seemed to care a jot.
Vasek Pospisil and Radek Stepanek are meant to be teammates in the men’s doubles – not that you would know.
Trailing 5-1 in the first set of their clash against Australian pair Matthew Barton and Matthew Ebden, Pospisil was feeling the pressure on serve.
And he hammered a serve into the elbow of Stepanek, causing the Czech veteran to drop his racquet immediately and walk off court.
— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) January 18, 2017
Play stopped as Stepanek needed ice and things didn’t improve for the duo, knocked out in straight sets despite their seeding of 12th.
Photo of the day
Federer’s kids ditch their dad to catch a film
Sometimes watching your tennis player dad dominate the court isn’t nearly as fun as tuning into the latest animated movie – just ask Roger Federer’s kids.
While their dad sweated it out in his round-three match against American Noah Rubin, his two sets of twins – daughters Charlene and Myla, 7, and sons Lenny and Leo, 2 – were enjoying a screening of Sing.
The grand slam star’s kids were spotted at a cinema in Melbourne’s CBD on Wednesday afternoon catching a private screening of the hit musical comedy, which stars Matthew McConaughey as a koala who owns a theatre.
The Federer family usually stays at the exclusive Crown Towers hotel and casino complex, which has direct access to luxury shops, upscale restaurants and cinemas, as well as a rooftop tennis court.
Prodigy gets legendary advice
Youngster Alex De Minaur showed the grit and determination in his first-round match not seen from an Australian since Lleyton Hewitt – and now he’s got the great man in his corner.
De Minaur, already nicknamed “The Minotaur”, had Hewitt and legendary coach Tony Roche by his side giving him last-minute advice before his second-round clash against 31st seed Sam Querrey.
— #7TENNIS 🎾 (@7tennis) January 18, 2017
The 17-year-old fell in straight sets, but hopefully he takes his chat with the Aussie greats further next time around.
A cause for celebration
World No.1 Angelique Kerber didn’t have everything her own way on her birthday (happy birthday, Angelique) against Carina Wotthoeft.
In the end she Kerb-ed the resistance to tough out a 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 victory.
Not every day does someone get a rambunctious rendition of happy birthday from a packed Rod Laver Arena crowd either.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 18, 2017
Was Nishikori taking the Mickey?
Kei Nishikori was asked one of the more peculiar questions in his post-match presser this Australian Open – but it was his answer that had reporters guessing.
When asked: “If you could get a photo with anyone famous outside of the tennis world and outside of your family, who would you like to get a selfie with?”
Nishikori responded: “Mickey.”
The reporter, unsure of the reference asked: “Who is that?”
“Mickey,” he said once more.
Third time’s the charm: “What’s Mickey famous for?”
Nishikori, now laughing, reveals the final clue: “… Disney World”
Cooler temperatures, more fans
As the weather finally cooled in Melbourne, the fans responded.
Some 51,767 of them came through the gates for the day session at Melbourne Park – a record attendance for a first-week Wednesday at the Open.
On Monday, 47,867 fans attended the day session, but that figure dropped to 37,789 on Tuesday as temperatures hit a high of 38 C.
Serena Williams continues her campaign for a 23rd grand slam title, Novak Djokovic hopes to make easy work of Denis Istomin, and the little master Rafael Nadal meets crowd favourite Marcos Baghdatis in a tantalising second-round encounter.
Daria Gavrilova carries the flag as the most likely Australian to win, while Jordan Thompson takes on eighth seed Dominic Thiem and hopes to cause a major upset.
Milos Raonic, Caroline Wozniacki, Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet also hit the court on the fourth day of play.
Games to watch
From 11.00am – Rod Laver Arena
Caroline Wozniacki vs. Donna Vekic
Novak Djokovic vs. Denis Istomin
From 7.00pm – Margaret Court Arena
Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
Jordan Thompson vs. Dominic Thiem
From 7.00pm – Rod Laver Arena
Serena Williams vs. Lucie Safarova
Rafael Nadal vs. Marcos Baghdatis
The New Daily will publish the Daily Deuce each day throughout the Australian Open.