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LaRosa's Aussie Blog - Week 1

1/24/2010 4:53:00 PM

Catch up on James' weekly column: LaRosa's Sweet Spot |

Check back daily throughout the Australian Open as our resident blogger, James LaRosa, offers up his humorous and poignant take on the day's action.

LaRosa's Week 2 Aussie Blog



DAY 7 - 1/24/2010 - 1:20PM PST
 

 

Hello peoples!  It is Dunlop. Oh my gosh, is time for Shame Stick already? I am joking you, I have it all warmed up. And I have been, how do you say, carb-loading. So look out all of you who make Down Under tournament smell like cheaters Gisela Dulko and Alona Bonadrenko combined, I have more energy than a thousand boxes of Milk Duds!  And I also have help. I am big twitter star now, and all my millions of fans, they tell me who they want Dunlop to shame.  So away we go!

 

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Your shoulder hurt.  Dunlop is not monster, he understands. But it is better now.  Now you lose because of what is between ears. And that is your biggest weapon! Do not turn it on yourself. Here, let me help. – 4 whacks with Shame Stick

 

6 whacks with the shame stick

MARIA SHARAPOVA'S DRESS: I have no bad feelings, but  @GVTennisNews, @Ataraxis00 and @pkultgen all tell me on the twitter that I should light it on fire and throw off bridge. I give to Maria Kirilenko so she can wash her car with instead. Ha!  Okay, this is not joking matter. – 6 whacks with Shame Stick

 

BERNARD TOMIC:  Young Australian plays match of young life against Croatian Cilic on big Rod Laver Arena, then he make baby noises saying he play so late it make him lose match. He is only 17, he cry after he spit out pacifier. Dunlop says it is your job! Not everyone get to play nice court.  Instead of new respect, you get spanking from ATP and tournament bosses.  @kefuoe (that is another twitter person) agree you are the pipsqueak. - We whack you with Shame Stick late into the night without complaint.

 

KIM CLIJSTERS: Jigga what? Jigga who?  - 8 whacks with Shame Stick. But then I let Jada play with it.

 

@Christina1862: For saying Ana and Jelena deserve stick. You deserve to have mouth washed out with soap. – 4 whacks with Zest

 

CHAIR UMPIRES AND LINE JUDGES:  Where is the Hawk-Eye!  It is Grand Slam tournament!  So many bad calls, so many bad decisions, and @Ratazana agree with me.  So does Yankee Doodle Andy Roddick.  It drove him and my Ana crazy bonkers.  – 6 whacks with Shame Stick

 

ANDY RODDICK: What, you think just because Dunlop uses you as proof, you get away easy? You are grown man barking at someone who is just doing his job.  You are millionaire many times over, and you have model wife.  How do you say, chill out.   – 4 whacks with Shame Stick

 

DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA:  She lose to Vania King in first round. It does not seem so bad compared to what other people have done, but @greenhopper says to me on the twitter, "Have no Mercy." So I will not. That is how Dunlop rolls.  – 3 whacks with Shame Stick

 

ANNA CHAKVETADZE:  Eh, nevermind. If you cannot be bothered, neither can Dunlop.  Godspeed.

 

JAMES LAROSA: He say "Maria Sharapova is (definitely) back." He say "Kim Clijsters is a beast!" He knows nothing!  For first time, I get to whack him with stick!  But Dunlop is too kind. We have been through too much together. I let him, how do you say, marinate in his stupiditude.  Just kidding!  - 26 whacks with Shame Stick, two jolts with electric cattle prod and In Your Face dance.  Ha!  I am giddy like school girl. But in manly way.

 

Thank you to my many many many fans for your help. No autographs please.  But plenty of poljubacs!

 

Dunlop

 

 


 

DAY 6 - 1/23/2010 - 2:55PM PST  
 

After a first week filled with forehands, fun and flares, it's time to put some props on the barbie to the superstars putting the oi oi oi in the Aussie. Ladies and gentlemen, your Week 1 HONOR ROLL:

 
NICOLAS ALMAGRO: He's into the fourth round…after apparently breaking his wrist v. Xavier Malisse in round 1.  That my friends is a STUD.  Or a big liar.  I'm going with stud.

The no.2 ranked American

JOHN ISNER: Nothing like following up a killer Slam performance with another killer Slam performance.  2010 has been kind to the 6'9" Georgia peach.  He's now the No 2 ranked American, and he's playing like it.  Andy Murray will be a big ask, but he's a big guy.  And stranger things have happened this Aussie, like…

 

NADIA PETROVA: You broke a lot of hearts, including mine. But what a performance you put on!  Maybe your opponent couldn't feel the ball, but you certainly could.  You manhandled the darn thing.  Follow it up with another big win and I might just say yes to that coffee date you asked me out on a couple years back.

 

MARCOS BAGHDATIS: Nothing like a good comeback.  Poor Marcos was out of the top 100 last year. And while he did all the heavy lifting to get his ranking back to just outside the top 30 before the Aussie even started, it was his heroic performance on the Grand stage v. David Ferrer that truly announced he was back.  Bummer his shoulder couldn't hold up to the task of Lleyton Hewitt, but a Sydney title and the seven matches in a row that went with it says Outlook Good.

 

MARIA KIRILENKO: She hung tough while buddy Sharapova imploded, but she makes this list for keeping the Kirilenko train rolling.  Up next: Dinara Safina.  Does she have another Big Upset in her?  Speaking of…

 

DINARA SAFINA: She's playing like the No 2 player in the world.  That's all.

 

IVO KARLOVIC: Not a fan of your style of tennis, both the total reliance on the serve (oh but what a serve) and the shaky ground game.  But I'm all for revenge, and stealing that first round 5-setter from Radek Stepanek, after losing that epic Davis Cup clash to him last year, tasted pretty sweet.  I'm also a fan of Eastern Europeans taking on rap careers (he's well into recording an album), so word to you sir, and your mother.

 

LOUK SORENSEN: He may not have a neck, but he has tons of heart, becoming the first Irishman to win a match at a major in the Open Era.  Sing it: Louk Sorensen, he's magically delicious!

 

MIKHAIL YOUZHNY: Oh Misha. You give us perhaps the best match so far this tournament, coming back form two sets down against Richard Gasquet, and then you pull out with a bum wrist.  Give me your racquet - I salute you.

 

SAMANTHA STOSUR: She should be in the fourth round thanks to her ranking.  But really, with the form she showed at Hopman Cup and beyond, who saw this coming?  Mazel.

 

THE MENS TOP SEEDS: With all the herky-jerk on the women's side (the WTA was supposed to be back, wasn't it? You promised Lord!), the dudes have been holding it down, ensuring the second week will be a beaut. I'm thinking adult diapers should be on hand from the quarters on, cuz I ain't goin' anywhere.

 

And with that, my second bowel-related analogy for the week.  On to Week 2!

 

(But first, the little matter of a Shame Stick. Sorry Annie, the sun will not come out tomorrow.)




 

DAY 5 - 1/22/2010 - 1:55PM PST  

 

Call McGruff the Crime Dog, cuz Day 5 has been a jacking.  
 

Shocked face 1

I haven't slept, I've had no physical activity, my meals have consisted of either M&M's, Skittles or M&M's and Skittles. I'm ready to blow. So why is Jelena Jankovic baiting me like this?  Playing Alona Bondarenko on Hisense, JJ comes out playing flatter than a pancake.  Alona is going for her shots, her crosscourt forehand particularly lethal, but Jelena's doing nothing to put the fear of God in her, or the fear of someone who's cleaned her clock each and every one of the nine times they've played. And as Jelena lackadaisically does nothing more than get the ball back, it's clear that head-to-head is squarely on the Serb's mind.  She should win this easy.  I'm literally red-faced, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?  This is the third round of a major, drink some coffee, hit up Andre's friend/meth dealer Slim, SOMETHING.  For God's sake woman, you have a fourth rounder with Marion Bartoli to get to! 

 

Walks in the parks can become muggings if you're not paying attention.  In no time, Jelena is face down in the garbage cans, sans pocket book and dignity. 

 

Up next on Hisense, Justine Henin and Alisa Kleybanova.  I don't expect much from this match for one very good reason.  Henin has the mental fortitude of a young Hannibal Lecter, and Kleybanova has the mental fortitude of a young block of gouda.  Still, few players wreck a ball more than the Russian and, as she steamrolls Justine in the first set, it's thrilling.  Thrilling not because I love Alisa and her juicy hair bun (I do) or because I have some residual grudge leftover from

Shocked face 2

Henin's retirement in the '06 final (I do), but because Kleybanova's not caving to Henin like so many players do.  Even after two years away, Dementieva folded like a paper sack in their second round match (sorry, I know that match was supposed to be the second coming but all I saw was a woman too intimidated to put any depth on her shots).  So now Alisa's up 3-1 in the second and I'm loving it.  Until Alisa starts to crack. Oh no.  It gets worse.  Oh no no no.  NO!  WHAT ARE YOU DOING?  We're into a third and I know what that means.  I watch idly as Justine eats her with a can of fava beans and a nice…you get it.  In no time, Alisa is face down in the garbage cans, sans face and dignity.

 

Over on Margaret Court, John Isner has taken the first set off Gael Monfils 6-1. Monfils is the No 12 player in the world so you know he's not going to take this lying down.  Until, after Gael takes the second set and has his teeth firmly into the third, he is literally lying down.  And slamming into walls.  And careening into Evian displays.  WHAT ARE YOU DOING?  What he's doing is being Monfils, which I can't take even on my best days.  It's no wonder he's injured 11 months of the year. It's all Johnny needs to bust out the big guns and win it in four.  The Frenchman is left face down in his own showboating.

 

Back on Hisense, it’ll be order in the court as Kim Clijsters takes on Nadia Petrova.  Like Jelena, Kim's never lost to Nadia, so this should be a walk in the WHAT ARE YOU DOING?  KIM!  HIT THE BALL!  NO, DON'T— WHY ARE YOU GIVING IT RIGHT BACK TO—RUN KIM RUN!  NO, THAT WAY!!  LOOK OVER THERE—!  SOMEBODY HELP HER!!!  SHE'S A MOTHER FOR GOD'S SAKE!  POLICE! POLICE! 

 

I wake up hours later, face down in the garbage cans, sans my pick to win it all…



DAY 4 - 1/21/2010 - 1:40PM PST
  

 The Grim Reaper is a sonofabitch.  No matter how hard you try to outrun him, he will sink his cold dead claws into your soft warm flesh. Ever see Final Destination? Or a dumb girl running away from Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th

Unleash the Rage

Ana Ivanovic is that dumb girl on Day 4 of the Aussie.  But instead of the killer being Gisela Dulko (no disrespect, dear), it's Ana herself.  Coming into this match, Ana showed she's finally finding her form again, and should feel good about that.  2009 was a nightmare. All that self-doubt, all that loss, all those people talking about That Toss. (Did that rhyme? So sorry.) Wouldn't it be awful to go back there again?  Suddenly, at the brink of closing Dulko out in straight sets, it's 2009 all over again.

 

The harder she runs, the more blood-curdling screams that ricochet in her mind, the more inevitable it looks – to her, to Dulko, to the lady in the third row who, at this point, has a better shot of catching Ana's toss than she does.  Ana has a machete and she's stalking herself around the court.  She'd leave the stadium in pieces.  And in tears.

 

Meanwhile, on Hisense, Marcos Baghdatis is squandering opportunity after opportunity to take the first set off David Ferrer, a guy he's frankly outplaying. After laboring hard to lose the second, rage seeps in to the Cypriot.  He breaks a couple racquets (one of which was still in its plastic bag, which has got to be a first).  Suddenly, the Reaper has appeared.  And when he looks across the net and sees Ferrer is even more tired than he is, it becomes a bloodbath. With psychotic abandon, Marcos runs David corner to corner to corner to corner to corner, hitting his backhand harder and harder and harder, bludgeoning the Spaniard to near-death.  David tries to get away, but it's no use.  Ooh, wait!  Death is getting cramps!  Did you hear me sucka, I said the Grim Reaper waits for no man.  Death serves it out.  His victory celebration is well-earned.  And mildly pornographic, as it includes taking off his shirt and grabbing his package. Death is cheeky.

 

Beware of the Grim Reaper

Agnes Szavay experienced a little Final Destination of her own.  She wasn't missing a shot in her match v. Na Li.  And when she arrived at match point, she felt invincible.  One careless blunder later, she couldn't hit a Buick with a loogie if she were sitting on its hood.  Szavay runs screaming around the court as her careless error chases her, working her legs raw, her mind into Swiss cheese.  In the third set, she drops dead of madness.  It's a condition kids, look it up.

 

Totally pumped up, the Grim Reaper trots on down to Rod Laver to see what kind of damage he can do.  Imagine his glee when he sees Donald Young taking on Lleyton Hewitt.  Death sits down with some popcorn and an ice cream bar and waits for his moment.  Sure enough, it comes just as Young, ripping forehands from all over the court, flinches at his first set point.  Death sucks the last slurp off his popsicle stick and swoops in for the chase.  He races after Young straight into the second set.  Not so fast though.  Donald's got GREAT legs, and he manages to get up on Hewitt again.  But like the girl in Friday the 13th, he trips in the woods for absolutely no reason and rolls around panicking and moaning until Hewitt grabs the sickle and says Let me do this myself.  That was the last anyone'd ever seen of Donald Young.

 

Overall, a pretty good day for the Reaper.  And tomorrow looks like it could be even better, with recent spoiler Juan Martin del Potro, the ever-reliable Dinara Safina and the over-tennised John Isner all on tap. The bigger they are, the harder they fall? 

 

Which top player is Death coming for next?  Send me a tweet at twitter.com/JamesLaRosa


DAY 3 - 1/19/2010 - 10:24PM PST 

 

Ever do something over and over again even though you know it's a mistake?  Like keeping on going out with the same loser or putting money on Tomas Berdych?  In that spirit, and because it's either this or watch the Hantuchova/Kutuzova match, ladies and gentlemen, I give you—

 

Dunlop: I introduce myself.  Hello peoples!  Where is all my homeys at?  Can Dunlop get a what what?

 

James: For those who've never had the pleasure, Dunlop is my surly Serbian ball of fuzz who is part frenemy, part someone I'm contractually obligated to interact with.  The Clijsters and Henin of tennis journalism if you will.

 

Dunlop: Dunlop will not. And if anyone needs to be introduced it is you!

 

James: Oookay Dunlop, so what we're going to try here is to stay calm, cool and collected as we calmly, coolly and collectedly run through some spectacular Aussie Open outfits.

 

Dunlop: No one is more spectacular than my Nole!  He look like super hero. Human Torch with his flames.  And it is so tight to his body, his shirt. It really show off his muscles.

 

James: It's so shiny, it sort of looks like silk jammies, no?  Dunlop..?

 

Dunlop: He could hardly take off shirt during changeover, it peel off him like sausage casing…

 

James:  Dunlop.

 

Dunlop: What? I am sorry, what we were talking about?

 

James: Sharapova.

 

Dunlop: Oh, she look like she get in back alley brawl with Mrs. Roper from Three's Company. Ha! But seriously, is big TV show in Serbia.  It knocks on many many doors.

 

James: Nice change up though from the same fakakta bright yellow Adidas outfit the other ladies are sporting, no?

 

Dunlop: No.  And are you talking about my Ana?  She is vision in yellow!

 

James: She looks like a Peep.  Jankovic is looking darn good in her little blue and purple number. She matches the court.

 

Shiny!

Dunlop:  But not her lip gloss!  I tell her to ice her lips during changeovers, get them nice and blue, but she does not listen.  She is afraid she will not be able to speak. Is her nightmare. The bagra.

 

James: Let's talk about Rafa.  He's all kind of orange.

 

Dunlop: Like sherbet in bandana. Vamos!

 

James: I'd like to throw a vamos at Aravane Rezai, rocking gold lame from head to toe.  That takes guts.

 

Dunlop: That takes head injury.  Of course you would like.

 

James: Dunlop…

 

Dunlop: You know who Dunlop would like to see show some of the guts?  Justine Henin.  She is so brave, then why does she hide her shoulders with those little sleeves?  Have you seen her in tank top?  She is foxier than Joyce DeWitt!

 

James: I think you need to start watching some different shows.  How about fellow Belgian Kristen Flipkens?  She was rocking those shades like a true Tipsarevic.  Between her and Pretty in Pink Lucie Safarova, they really turned up the fashion dial when facing the guillotines of Justine and Venus.  If you're gonna go out, go out in style, right Dunlop?  Dunlop..?

 

Dunlop: He was really tan too, did you see?  His legs were as if dipped in amber.

 

James: You're talking about Djokovic again, aren't you.

 

Dunlop: You said we talk the fashion, I talk the fashion!

 

James: Alrighty. I think I know who your best dressed is.  Who faceplanted on the runway?

 

Dunlop:  I do not like Roger Federer in, how you say, same old same old.  Dunlop falls asleep.  But Yankee Doodle Andy Roddick is the worst.  Z.Z.Z.  See how I spell it out? That means Dunlop is sleeping.

 

James: I'm Z.Z.Z.-ing Henin.  Because I have seen her in a tank top, and I think the rest of the world should too.  For best dressed, Safarova edges Rezai, but I have to reserve total judgment until Bethanie Mattek-Sands takes the court in doubles.  I have a feeling the rest of the locker room is about to get schooled.

 

Dunlop: You cannot do that.  You have to decide!

 

James: D, relax.  It's my blog, I can do what I want.

Dunlop: Your blog?  YOUR blog?  I am the Joan, you are the Melissa!  You are Rhoda, I am Mary!

 

James: Okay, I think we're done here—

 

Dunlop:  I am the Jay, you are stupid Conan! 

 

James: Someone's hit the Milk Duds hard and needs to be put back in the mini-bar. Thanks for coming everyone.

 

Dunlop:  Put me down!  I have 33 followers on twitter!!!  They will rise up and destroy your little empire!  Have you ever seen movie the 300?  Dunlop is Spartaaaaaa!!!!!

 

James: Poljubac.


Day 2 - 1/19/2010 - 12:31AM PST  

The first round of a major is one great big giant gut check.  Yesterday, Rafael Nadal, Dinara Safina and Justine Henin made a big statement about the kind of shape they're in. Sadly, Sharapova and Dokic did the same.  Day 2 is loaded with even more players with something to prove.  And it could get downright ugly as we lead off with the very beautiful Ana Ivanovic. 

Ana with a hop in her step

Ana's taking on American qualifier Shenay Perry. The big question with the Serb is when (bordering frighteningly close to if) she'll ever find her No 1 form again.  Every time she tosses a ball in the air, you can feel Margaret Court Arena (and perhaps Margaret Court herself) inhale sharply, wondering What Is Going To Happen?  And Perry is taking it to her, as any player would knowing their opponent has been showcasing the emotional stability of a Lohan.  I have to turn away, if only for a moment.

 

Over on Hisense, Ana's ex-boyfriend Fernando Verdasco – he of the explosive '09 AO - is struggling, down a set to Aussie wild card Carsten Ball.  Is Hot Sauce cracking under the weight of expectations? Or hair gel?

 

As if performing some kind of symphony, Sam Stosur, queen of buckling under pressure, is doing everything in her power to blow a match on Laver that she had complete and total control of.  Stosur charged into Hopman Cup with Lleyton Hewitt giving all kinds of press about how she's ready to take her rightful place among the elite.  Team Australia, the top seeds, bottomed out epically.  Stosur's luck looks to continue…until she turns things around.  As does Verdasco.  Someone who doesn't turn things around is Ivanovic.  She doesn't need to, never trailing in her match. 

 

Statements made.

 

Serena's up next.  Serena has heaps to prove. Can she stay No 1 with TWO turbo-charged Belgians now breathing down her neck?  Is she healthy enough to run this race to begin with, having gimped her way to the Sydney final only to receive a thrashing at the hands of Elena Dementieva?  When Serena takes the court with a thigh wrap the size of a pool cover it doesn't look good, but soon she's chasing down drop shots and lobs so clearly her death has been greatly exaggerated. 

 

Also greatly exaggerated, the death of the US Open Tirade. It's a story that is alive and well in Melbourne.  It may have even grown a second head.  I'm as over it as you are (you know, until the Lineswoman shows up at one of Serena's matches, then I make no promises.)  But I have to say, this 92k in 92 days charity thing Serena is doing is only dragging it out. Uncle!  Or aunt, sorry, I don't want to further victimize anyone in this patriarchal society.

 

Roger has something to prove

Roger Federer has something to prove.  Tongues were set a waggin' after he was on the receiving end of back-to-back spankings by Nikolay Davydenko, a guy who'd never beaten him in so much as a coin toss.  Panic set in when Rog bailed on Kooyong, his usual AO warm-up, to instead beef up his practice at Melbourne Park.  And what's up with this sore arm we keep hearing about?  Oh and PS, every one of the Next Generation is gunning for his throne.  So, you know, game on.

 

On the other side of the net is Igor Andreev, who watched his ladyfriend beat up on Sharapova yesterday on this very court.  Will these Ruskie lovebirds be responsible for more bloodshed than Bonnie & Clyde? It sure looks that way, as Igor stuns Fed by muscling his way through the first set.  At no point to I really think Roger's in trouble…until Igor is serving for the third set.  Alas, the Russian makes his own statement, and that's I DON'T WANT TO WIN!  Loud and clear, Rog says as he takes the set, then bagels him in the fourth.

 

(He does get to walk off with the name Igor, which I think is pretty awesome.  Use it in conversation, it's kicky.  Mom, this is my boyfriend Igor.  Igor, pass the salt.)

 

Jelena Jankovic is baking bagels in her first round match, a relief to both her fans and people who just like the entertainment value of a piping hot mess.  She ain't goin' nowhere folks.  I hope not, I'm banking on a fourth rounder between her and archnemesis Marion Bartoli. And don't nobody hide the knives.

 

As the sun sets and night draws near, Day 2 makes its own emphatic statement.  Just as Ana, JJ, Rog, Sam and Serena all proved, in tennis, you can always right the ship.

 

(As tennis also teaches us, it can all turn to poop in a heartbeat. So don't let go of the wheel!)

 

Can't bear to be away from me, even for a second?  Follow me at twitter.com/JamesLaRosa.  If you have the guts.
 


  Day 1 - 1/18/2010 - 12:26AM PST

The 2010 Australian Open has a lot to live up to.  Not because the US Open was so great (it was). Not because Melbourne '09 produced some of the most memorable matches of the year (it did). And not because the build up to the first major of the decade has reached near-biblical proportions with story after story about the heretofore unseen depth on both the men's and women's sides meaning ANYONE COULD WIN! (they could).  No, this Aussie Open has to contend with last night's Hit for Haiti, an event that was so entertaining, so revealing and so satisfying that it's going to be a tough act to follow.  

For those of you who missed it (and you can track it down on youtube), it was a breezy affair featuring the game's very best, including Fed, Rafa, the Djokester, Serena, Clijsters, Roddick and more, showcasing if not high-octane tennis, then something we tennis nerds get even less of – a real taste of our favorites' personalities, and how they bounce off each other when ranking points aren't on the line.  Sporting microphones, we got

Copyright Bryan Brothers

all the guys working their grunts, Kim having way too much fun massaging Rafa's thighs, Novak shoving a towel down the front of his pants after taking one too many volleys at net, Rafa and Novak chest bumping Bryan Bros-style… And it raised over $200G's to boot.  The only drawbacks I could tell were the players it was missing.  Having Dinara Safina or Justine Henin mic'd up in what amounted to a comedy show would have been, for me anyway, priceless.  

But Safina and Henin had to work the next day. If the rain lets up, that is.  Luckily, Rod Laver comes with a handy dandy roof so, for the marquee stars, it. is. on.

 

There are few bigger stars than Maria Sharapova, especially with her new $70 million Nike deal.  She'll be kicking off the tournament in a dress her opponent, BFF Maria Kirilenko, would later call POWERADE Blue.  In sports, that's a color.  In Kirilenko's box, boyfriend Igor Andreev, who drew Federer as his first round opponent.  So, yeah, they're pretty much jinxed.

 

Suddenly it's Sharapova who looks jinxed, coughing up 4-2 leads in both the first set and the first set tiebreak.  In the process, Sharapova somehow manages to hit a ball UP Kirilenko's skirt.  It's that kind of match.  As set two drags on (and by drags on I mean the first two games take nearly 25 minutes), suddenly I realize I'm the one jinxed.  Between the time they're taking between points, the number of unforced errors flying off Big Maria's racquet and the complete and total lack of rhythm to this entire affair, I'm suddenly feeling a whole lot like, well, this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JO5f3AnhBHk 

Little Maria quiets the crowd

To measure it by another yardstick, Ivan Ljubicic has played three sets on an outer court and moved into the second round AFTER the rain that's delayed the start of play, and the Marias haven't cleared the second set's first changeover.  This might as well be a comedy show, one I'd love to have Sharapova's brain mic'd up for so I can know what she's thinking.

 

All credit to Little Maria as she outsteadies Big Maria from the baseline and, seventeen and a half hours later, causes the first upset of the tournament.  How much therapy can $70 mil buy?

 

Much is made of this being the first time Sharapova is bounced from a major since 2003, but more jarring to me is the fact that she's only made one QF in two years.  And that came on red clay.  Someone needs to get this train back on track, stat.

 

Shockingly, Sharapova's positively peppy in her press conference.  Apparently $70 mil is all the therapy one needs.  But what about me?  Before I can tighten the noose around my neck and kiss this Slam good-bye, Kim Clijsters comes out and bombs the joint, hitting the corners and showing how to get 'er done. I hesitate to call Clijsters a diarrhetic, so I'll just say, after that Sharapova match, I now feel regular.  Thanks mom.

 

The two Andys also make quick work of overmatched opponents and the Aussie is officially back on track.  Sure, rains delayed play on the outer courts a few times and, okay, a bunch of rowdy Croatian fans got bounced after roughing up a photographer and trying to smuggle in flares, but I'm thinking everything's gonna be okay.

 

Until I see an old friend has launched his own twitter account.  www.twitter.com/TheRealDunlop. Heaven help us all.

 

Heaven help Kirilenko's lover man Andreev, taking on Fed tomorrow on Rod Laver.  Will he rub Little Maria's 6-pack for luck?  And how's Serena's knee going to hold up when she takes the court?  See you tomorrow…