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Alix Ramsay Checks In From The 2020 Australian Open Tennis

By Alix Ramsay

It is too damned quiet out there. We have been here for four days and, as yet, absolutely nothing has happened.

Those who are supposed to win have won and those who are not supposed to say boo to a goose have tiptoed anonymously into the shadows, there to wait for a taxi to the airport. This is not the all-singing-all-dancing start to the grand slam season that we were hoping for.

Quite what has brought on this state of general torpor is unclear although the weather has not helped much. The Melbourne climate is notoriously fickle and it is not uncommon to have your breakfast in 100-degree heat (there are tales told of it being so hot that even the flies sweat) only to shiver your way through lunch after the thermometer has plunged to the 60s. But this year, it has just been bloody cold. Wet and cold. Wet, windy and cold. It has been miserable.

On Wednesday it rained. This was not unusual. But the fact that it was raining mud came as something of a surprise. Great big, orange blobs of water and dust dripped over the whole of the city throughout the night so that when it came to play starting again on Thursday, there was need for some serious housework. Matches on the outside courts were delayed while minions with power hoses slooshed down the cement and tried to make it look presentable. But as headline stories for Day Four of the Australian Open went, “Cleaning emergency on Court 22” hardly set the pulses racing.

In an unexpected turn up for the book, one of the more interesting moments on Thursday came in Daniil Medvedev’s 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 win over Pedro Martinez on the Margaret Court Arena – and it had nothing to do with the tennis.

There was Daniil, clumping his way into the third round when his nose sprang a leak. Dripping claret all over the fluffy, white towels, Daniil had to call for the trainer for a bit of help. He may have regretted that decision when said trainer appeared at his elbow and appeared to stick a screwdriver up the Russian’s right nostril (he was, presumably looking for the stopcock to turn off the sprinkler system). This unpleasant procedure was repeated a couple of times before the bleeding stopped and normal service could be resumed.

“I was bleeding from the nose, which can happen to me sometimes,” Medvedev said. “Doesn’t usually happen during the match so I had to stop it. Usually takes like four minutes, three, four minutes. I called the physio so he could help me to stop it. It happens maybe two times a year or maybe once. Like, I remember it actually happened last year Australian Open in first round. I think it was the only time last year, so it can happen sometimes but it’s nothing.”

As for what causes the nosebleeds, he has no idea. All Daniil knows is that it is not stress-induced.

“No, no, not at all,” he said. “If it would be, I would be bleeding every match I play.”

But then Daniil won – he now plays Alexei Popyrin – and that was pretty much the end of that.

The only true news event of the day was the discovery that the Australian Open is the only Australian sporting event where it is not possible to buy a pie. Not only is that against nature, it is anti-Australian. The great Aussie sporting tradition has been built on big-hearted Aussie blokes sweating blood for their country on the field of play while big-bellied Aussie blokes watch on from the stands munching on a meat pie and swigging down a cold beer. It is how nature intended it to be. But not at the AO 2020.

After further investigation – investigation that brought a swift chilling of relations between press and PR – it turned out that there is a purveyor of meat and pastry comestibles on site. The said bearer of this baked bliss operates out of the staff canteen on level two of Melbourne Arena “but it’s OK ‘cos there’s no security over there…you’ll get in”. So if you, too, are craving a pie as you watch the tennis, head over to Melbourne Arena and make for the staff canteen. Tell them that the people in public relations sent you…

And finally, we end with some shameless advertising. We have a friend (no, really, we do) and she has written a book: Not Quite 30-Love. Our friend is Sally Bradfield and she is little bit of a legend. Well, the legend is large; the legs less so. Sal is a vertically challenged legend.

In the half a lifetime we have known each other, Sal has been a communications manager with the WTA and a brand manager with the ATP. No, we are not sure what a brand manager is, either, but we do know that Sal loves a good gossip, she can be absolutely hilarious and she has a turn of phrase that can fillet the biggest of egos in no more than a handful of syllables. And she knows the world of tennis from the inside out.

Now living a quieter life in her native Australia, Sal has turned her attention to writing and her debut novel is the story of a young Aussie lass, Kate Cook, who is tiring of Sydney life and so gets herself a job in professional tennis. Once there, she falls for a good-looking champion, has a string of adventures, has even more dust-ups with newly-made rivals and lives her life in the spotlight of social media.

The book has only been out for a couple of days so reviews are thin on the ground but, so far, the best line is that Not Quite 30-Love is like The Devil Wears Prada meets professional tennis. Buy it and see. It’s as simple as clicking on a link:


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