Notes from Down Under

Some ruminations from around the tournament:

--Anna Chakvetadze remains shaken by the kidnapping/robbery at her home in Moscow. In December, masked intruders broke into the sixth-ranked player's home and tied up her family and reportedly pistol-whipper her father while making off with $250,000 in cash and goods.

"Of course it was (scary)," said Chakvetadze following her second round win over Andrea Kleybanova. "You think you can protect yourself when you are at home, but you can’t actually. It can happen with everyone, but life is going on. I’m trying to forget about it."
Chakvetadze hurt her thumb in the robbery and couldn't practice for a week, but she declined to say how she injured it. She said she preferred to move, but that her parents wanted to stay in their Moscow home - now equipped with a better alarm system and a body guard.

--In case you hadn't noticed, it's been an extremely on-form tournament so far. Ninth-seed Andy Murray's opening-round upset was a surprise, but with the third-round complete none of the top-8 seeds in either draw had failed to advance. Speaking of Murray's upset, the Age newspaper in Melbourne prominently pointed out that Murray and fellow Brit Jamie Baker's first-round exit left zero English players in the draw, while it's Grand Slam neighbor nearby, France, had 29. Ouch.

--Yuri Sharapov wore a ridiculous looking Nike fatigue jacket during Maria Sharapova's match the other night. Even his daughter recognized how out-of-place it looked at a tennis match. "He looks like an assassin," Maria said. "I swear, he's a really nice guy. I told him, 'You look like an assassin with that jacket on.' He's like, 'Well.' He has a cold so he told me that he had to put the hood on tonight."

--I know it's crass, but....Asked about what it was like to play doubles with her sister, Venus Williams had this to say:
"Nothing like playing with Serena. It's like playing with myself."


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