Brief stories from the Australian Open on Monday:
– No friends –
Injury-wracked Andy Murray proved he hasn’t lost his sense of humour despite chronic pain from a hip injury forcing him into retirement this year. The three-time Grand Slam winner came across long-time mate Nick Kyrgios in a restaurant and posted a photo on Instagram of the Aussie eating alone with the caption: “(Nick Kyrgios) having dinner with all his mates.” Despite coming across as dour, Murray is known to enjoy a laugh. Last month he put a picture of himself swigging from a champagne bottle on Instagram and said: “Celebrating the end of 2018. What a shit year that was!”
– Anybody out there? –
American Sloane Stephens turned the tables on the press when facing journalists after her straight-sets win over compatriot Taylor Townsend. The former US Open champion was being quizzed about her stand-in coach Sly Black when she began to suspect something was amiss. “Did you watch the match?” she asked the reporter, only to be told: “Sorry, I was watching another one I had to watch.” “Did ANYONE watch the match?” the incredulous fifth seed said to resounding silence an embarrassed shuffling of feet from assembled hacks.
– Dash off –
Britain’s Dan Evans also received a harsh lesson in his position on the media totem pole when he arrived for his press conference, only to find journalists had already left to watch Andy Murray begin his final campaign at Melbourne Park.
“The rest of the British press send their congratulations, but they have to dash out… (they) left to me to ask you the questions,” he was told by the moderator. An unimpressed Evans made a one-word response: “Decent.”
– Keep the noise down –
Maria Sharapova may have raced through her opening match with a “double bagel” 6-0, 6-0 win, but her loud antics weren’t to everyone’s liking. As she was despatching British qualifier Harriet Dart on Rod Laver Arena, out on court seven Australians Astra Sharma and Priscilla Hon were in their own first-round battle. Behind them was a giant screen showing the Sharapova match — with the sound turned up full blast for spectators. Trouble was, as Sharapova’s fabled grunting reached a crescendo the distracted Aussie pair were forced to shut out the noise to concentrate. Before anyone could find the remote control, Sharapova won in just 63 minutes and peace returned.
– She thinks it’s all over –
Britain’s Katie Boulter had an embarrassing moment when playing the first ever final-set tiebreak at Melbourne Park. Instead of continuing until one player leads by two clear games, third sets for women and fifth sets for men now go to a super tie-break when the score reaches six games all with the first to 10 points triumphing. But the message didn’t get through to a confused Boulter who celebrated victory over Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova with a fist pump when she reached the more normal seven tiebreak points. She approached the net to shake hands, only to be told the match hadn’t finished. Unfazed, she returned to take it anyway 4-6, 7-6 (10/6).