Brief stories from the Australian Open on Wednesday:
Roger Federer might be one of the greatest players ever, but even he was bowled over by Serena Williams when they played mixed-doubles at the recent Hopman Cup.
The Swiss star admitted he was flustered when serving to the American 23-time Grand Slam winner, saying she had an “aura”. “It was a wonderful atmosphere (playing against Serena), one I’d been looking forward for some time,” he said after moving into the Australian Open third round.
“I had a bad serve percentage against her … it must have had something to do with Serena’s aura. I’m not kidding. She’s a wonderful player. But we won in the end so I was happy about that, too!”
Young American Frances Tiafoe stated the obvious when asked what it was like when he had the opportunity to play with Serena Williams at the Hopman Cup.
“I mean, off the court, she’s so chilled and relaxed. Once she gets on, she hates losing. It’s unacceptable,” he said of the 23-time Grand Slam champion after making the Australian Open third round.
Tiafoe is only 20 years old and said it was nerve-wracking when he first teamed up with perhaps the greatest women’s player ever. “I was about as nervous as could be. But I think we grew a pretty good relationship.”
Fifth seed Sloane Stephens showed some nifty footwork winning through to the third round but was less sure of herself when stepping off court after her match.
The American walked the wrong way from Rod Laver Arena then had to retrace her steps as the centre court crowd looked on.
“I thought I was going the right way and was like ‘OK bye, see you tomorrow’, and nah, that was the wrong way,” said the former US Open winner, who reached the semifinals at Melbourne Park in 2013.
A decision to make imported Ganten mineral water from China the official drink at Melbourne Park has raised eyebrows, with the Australian Beverages Council questioning the decision.
“It’s perplexing and incongruous that such an iconic Australian sporting event chooses to source its ‘official water’ from China, when there is a plethora of great-tasting, high-quality, safe bottled water brands available here,” chief executive Geoff Parker told The Australian.
“From an environmental perspective, there must be a question mark over the carbon footprint of Chinese water being bottled and packaged in China and imported.” Organisers were tight-lipped.