Honestly, some people are soooooo bogan. 'Domo' and 'Muzza' are both tennis players - can you guess who they are? I'm sure if these players heard 'let's go, Domo!' or 'c'arn, Muzza!' shouted at them (which they did on Thursday at the Open!) they wouldn't recognise their own names either... it was pretty funny. But bogan. Hilariously so.
I started my Thursday at the Aussie Open just before eleven, having a bit of a wander round to see who was hitting up before settling in at Court 19 to watch Dominika 'Domo' Cibulkova play Chan Yung-Jan, which was the most one-sided match I have seen thus far in Melbourne - Domo won her first match in a double bagel, and the first set of this match was a bagel as well. She is really, really good. If she is not top ten by the end of the year I will eat an item of my own clothing. But good as she is, the match was so one-sided it was boring, and I could see Jelena Jankovic practicing over on Court 17, so I left after the first set.
I watched a bit of Jankovic, but then I heard a very familiar sounding shriek from the next court, so I mosied on over to Court 16 and caught the majority of Dinara Safina's practice - possibly the most unusual practice session I have seen yet. We've all read the stories of how Zeljko Krajan, her coach, has calmed her down and sorted her out on court, and it is my personal belief that he has done this by making her have all her temper tantrums in her practice sessions instead. Seriously, these two scream at each other like nothing else I have ever seen. I think I've commented on how much of a bitch Zeljko was to her during the oncourt coaching in the final of Sydney, and nothing was different here. Okay, so maybe they were a bit calmer, but this relationship has serious fire. If he wasn't wearing a wedding ring, wasn't five hundred years older and a foot shorter than she is, I'd think they were having some kind of clandestine love/hate relationship. But it's certainly working!
Safina was replaced on Court 16 by Ivanovic, so I watched her hit for a little while before swapping practice courts again to watch Baghdatis, who replaced Jankovic. (He looks so different without his hair!) Then I decided I should probably, you know, watch some actual tennis, so I headed out to Court 8 to watch a bit of Andreas Beck and Jurgen Melzer (is he still dating Domo? She seems to be swap them round a bit - she's been linked to both Monfils and Stakhovsky as well, if memory serves.) This was a good match - I watched the second set, which ended in a breaker, and it was a really tight one. Melzer levelled it at one set all, and it was well worth the watching.
I headed back out to the practice courts after that (yeah, I have an addiction problem, so sue me.) Djokovic was practicing, and it gave me a great deal of satisfaction to see that although there was a bit of a crowd watching him, it was absolutely NOTHING compared to the mobs that Federer draws. No one else draws that kind of mobs - not Ivanovic or Jankovic or the Williamses, not Hewitt or Murray or Djokovic or even Nadal. Is this the same worldwide? I love the notion of Federer as a universal star. There was a good match on Court 19 so I watched some of that - a very intriguing clash between Fabio Fognini and Nicolas Almagro. Almagro won easily in the end, but it was Fognini that drew my attention - he was bouncing racquets all over themselves, and he also made my favourite non-Federer shot of the tournament: he was at net, Almagro hit a volley at his toes, he dove to get it back over, fell, did a commando roll, and was back up in time to put the next one away for a winner. It was awesome. It was such a shame there are no cameras on that court, because it was a MAD shot.
But Djokovic was gone and the crowd was a-gathering, and that only ever means one thing - a Fed storm a-brewing! I went down and scouted myself a good spot at the fence of Court 16. At length, he did come out (unlike his Monday no show) - but he headed to Court 17! The crowd was very taken aback and swarmed after him - it was pretty funny! Being alone and also being small and quick, I got myself to an equally good position at the fence and watched the Great Man hit up for about forty-five minutes. It is such a bizarre feeling, being that close to someone that you admire so much - particularly when there is a group of teenage girls shouting propositions to him behind you! (That said, the blokes are just as bad - there was this big, burly guy next to me, and Roger came over to the fence at one point to pick up a ball, and he bellows, 'HEY ROGER! I'M HAVING A BARBIE AT MY PLACE TONIGHT - YOU'RE WELCOME TO COME!' It must be so disconcerting, trying to just have a simple hit up and to get mobbed wherever you go. I guess that's just the price you pay for being fabulous.
When he was done (after about a thousand years of signing autographs) I went and caught the first set breaker of Ljubicic/Tsonga on the big screen. Even though Jo-W won that match, I was glad to see Ivan putting up such a good fight. He really is one of the great gentlemen of the sport, and I feel he never gets enough respect for that. He is a very lovely man. After that breaker I went and watched some of the all-Croat showdown on Show Court 2, where Ancic and Karlovic were slugging it out. There was seriously nothing between them. Karlovic probably had the ascendancy during the part of the match I watched (mostly the third set) but Ancic ended up winning - but honestly, there was no splitting them. It was good viewing.
I nipped offsite to eat and then came back to Show Court 2 to wait for Ernests Gulbis, which meant I caught the second set of Shuai Peng and Sesil Karantcheva, which was another seriously one-sided affair. Karantcheva didn't play badly (though she was missing a few) but Peng was on fire. She is a weird player - two-handed on both sides, which always looks weird - but it really worked for her. Karantcheva looks physically stronger than Peng, but the two hands really seemed to lend her some extra power, and she has excellent precision. The set I saw was a bagel, so it wasn't long till Gulbis came out, and that was a much tighter affair. I didn't see very much at all - it started at about seven - but it was a close one. Apparently Andreev won in five... so this tournament won't be Ernests's big break, but watch out, world, watch out.
Then it was into the arena - and what a women's match it was to start out! The whole crowd got behind Carla Suarez Navarro, especially when she won the second set. The Aussie crowd usually loves an underdog, and this wasn't an exception. And man, Venus did not look happy. You could tell she expected to win that one, and it seemed like she underestimated Carla all the way to the end... it seemed like she was waiting around for Carla to crack, and when Carla didn't... disaster for the sixth seed! But it was such a special moment, being in the crowd for that victory.
Then there was the Murray match, which was a bit disappointing, really. There were some really good points - a lot of really long ones - but you could tell that Granollers just never, ever believed he could win. Murray was on top the whole way - and because Granollers didn't appear to be fighting that hard, the crowd didn't really get behind him at all. There was some crazy Scots cheering for their man, but on the whole, the match had no fire. However, it did produce the name 'Muzza' - by which Andy Murray will now be known to me forevermore!
Rafael Nadal def. Roko Karanusic, 6-2 6-3 6-2
Gilles Simon def. Chris Guccione, 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-1 6-2
Andy Murray def. Marcel Granollers, 6-4 6-2 6-2
Gael Monfils def. Stefan Koubek, 6-4 6-4 3-6 6-2
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def. Ivan Ljubicic, 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (10-8) 7-6 (9-7) 6-2
Fernando Gonzalez def. Guillermo Canas, 7-5 6-3 6-4
James Blake def. Sebastien de Chaunac, 6-3 6-2 6-3
Mario Ancic def. Ivo Karlovic, 5-7 7-5 4-6 6-4 6-3
Igor Andreev def. Ernests Gulbis, 6-4 6-4 5-7 3-6 6-4
Tommy Haas def. Flavio Cipolla, 6-1 6-2 6-1
Richard Gasquet def. Denis Istomin, 6-3 6-4 6-4
Fernando Verdasco def. Arnaud Clement, 6-1 6-1 6-2
Jurgen Melzer def. Andreas Beck, 5-7 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 6-3
Radel Stepanek def. Michael berrer, 6-3 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 7-5
Nicolas Almagro def. Fabio Fognini, 6-2 7-5 6-0
Dudi Sela def. Victor Hanescu, 6-3 6-3 6-2
Carla Suarez Navarro def. Venus Williams, 2-6 6-3 7-5
Samantha Stosur def. Sabine Lisicki, 6-3 6-4
Elena Dementieva def. Iveta Benesova, 6-4 6-1
Serena Williams def. Gisela Dulko, 6-3 7-5
Flavia Pennetta def. Jessica Moore, 6-4 6-1
Svetlana Kuznetsova def. Tatjana Malek, 6-2 6-2
Amelie Mauresmo def. Elena Baltacha, 4-6 6-3 6-2
Shuai Peng def. Sesil Karantcheva, 6-4 6-0
Anabel Medina Garrigues def. Julie Coin, 6-1 6-4
Virginie Razzano def. Patty Schnyder, 6-3 6-1
Alona Bondarenko def. Severine Bremond, 7-6 (7-1) 1-6 6-2
Jie Zheng def. Melinda Czink, 7-6 (7-0) 5-7 6-3
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez def. Akgul Amanmuradova, 6-2 6-4
Victoria Azarenka def. Tathiana Garbin, 4-1 retired
Dominika Cibulkova def. Yung-Jan Chan, 6-0 6-2
Kateryna Bondarenko def. Lourdes Dominguez Lino, 7-5 7-5