Australian Open: Daniil Medvedev suffers bleed, Rafael Nadal hails ballgirl bravery, Serena Williams talks boxing
Nick Kyrgios and Gilles Simon both mocked Rafael Nadal and earned sanctions from umpire Fergus Murphy on an eventful day at the Australian Open when top seed Nadal dealt with an incident of his own and questions about his legacy.
After both players were given time violations, Kyrgios made umpire Murphy smile by appearing to impersonate Rafael Nadal’s trait of tucking his hair behind his ears and checking his shorts before serving.
Simon then left Kyrgios twirling his racket with laughter after performing his own impression of the world number one, although Kyrgios could afford a joke at that stage, serving at two sets and 2-0 up.
Two breaks later, Kyrgios had lost the third set. The at-times incendiary personality proceeded to have an altercation with his own corner, chastising their advice to him to “stay tough” before winning the deciding set 7-5 and apologizing to his team, admitting he had acted like “a d*******.”
“It’s epic,” he said of the atmosphere around Margaret Court Arena, drawing whoops and roars from the home fans that contrasted with his own apparently somber post-match mood.
The jokes at Nadal’s expense divided tennis fans on social media, many of whom defended Nadal and insulted Kyrgios and Simon, pointing to their slender trophy collection compared to the haul by the Spaniard that includes 19 Grand Slam wins and counting.
Nadal’s fans also fawned over footage of the Spaniard taking time out to comfort a shaken ballgirl after accidentally hitting her on the side of her head as he attempted to return a shot from out wide during the closing set of his victory.
For his part, a philosophical Nadal told reporters that more trophies will not make him more content in the long run, although he moved closer to another title by losing just five games in a straight sets thumping of Bolivian Hugo Dellien.
Characteristically expressive in a pink baseball cap, the 33-year-old explained: “In the future, if I win 21 Grand Slams, for example, I am not going to be happier than if I had won 19 – I mean, in 10 years.
“I won the US Open a few months ago and I was super happy in that moment, but am I happier today than if I hadn’t won the US Open? Probably not. It’s not the only thing that matters in this life.”
Alexander Zverev has more than a million followers on Instagram but spoke warily of the dangers of social media for modern players following a reasonably comfortable straight sets victory over Egor Gerasimov, taking the third set 7-5 on a tie break.
“It’s different than it was 20 years ago,” he reflected. “With the mobile phones that we have, the pressure that the media puts on us, that other people put on us – we are more aware of it than 20 years ago.
“You open up Instagram and there’s five million people that have an opinion about you all of a sudden.”
Asked when the younger talents on the circuit might start to break through and win major trophies more regularly, Zverev predicted: “Once one of us wins it, I think it’s going to be easier for the others.”
Zverev pointed to Daniil Medvedev’s five-set defeat to Nadal in the US Open final as a sign of the prospects’ progress, and the Russian is through to the third round this time, albeit after giving blood and sweat in a straight sets win over Pedro Martinez.
Medvedev suffered a nosebleed at the tournament for the second successive year, interrupting his victory to seek help from his physio to stem the flow.
“I think that was the only time it happened last year,” said Medvedev, who laughed off a suggestion that it could be an issue, and was pleased that a ploy by his opponent to try an underarm serve at one point failed.
“I don’t know why he did it but it surprised me a lot. If it had been a good one I would really have been in trouble, but it was really a bad one.”
Elina Svitolina had a late night on court, taking until after midnight to see off American Lauren Davis on a 7-6 second set tie break.
Serena Williams criticized herself for too many errors but still cruised past Tamara Zidansek in straight sets with a performance that suggested her formidable peak service game has returned, hitting an average of 175kph and winning 93 percent of her first serve points in the first set.
Williams spent more than four months away from competitive tennis between her defeat at the US Open final in September and her warm-up matches in Auckland in January, but revealed she has been mixing up her training to maintain freshness.
“I always dance,” said the world number nine, adding that her enjoyment of boxing is “not great for my nails” before speaking about the koalas she had painted on her fingers and her admiration for teenage compatriot Coco Gauff, who has also reached the third round.
Ashleigh Barty, Karolina Pliskova, and Simona Halep also advanced as all 10 top women’s seeds went through.