The finest player in the world looked for a long time here on Sunday evening like one of the worst, and Novak Djokovic goes through to his 27th straight grand slam quarter-final a relieved but worried champion after taking five sets to beat the world No15 Gilles Simon.
Serena Williams says she is lonely. She doesn’t much like it, either, a long way from home with nothing to do but deliver serial beatings to lesser players at the Australian Open and walk the very pleasant streets of Wimbledon.
An eerie chill has settled over the 2016 Australian Open. And it is not just the changing weather that has persuaded players to turn up their collars against further unpleasant developments on day four.
Novak Djokovic has vehemently denied allegations in an Italian newspaper he had deliberately lost a match against the French player Fabrice Santoro at the Paris Masters in 2007.
As Andy Murray and Sam Groth stood in the tunnel before their second-round match on day four of the Australian Open, the Australian who looks like he eats raw meat for breakfast turned to the Scot and confided, “I’ve never played on Rod Laver Arena, never even hit on it.”
The Australian says he used to play with Tottenham on FIFA all the time.
Not for the first time in her career, Australian Open eighth seed Venus Williams has departed a grand slam in melodramatic style, apparently happy to wear a US$5,000 fine in order to avoid discussing her shock first-round exit at the hands of Great Britain’s Johanna Konta on Tuesday.
At the risk of alerting those investigators tasked with detecting even a hint of financial risk-taking on Planet Tennis, Andy Murray is looking a good bet to do very well again at this Australian Open after an uncomplicated win over the German teenager Alexander Zverev on the second day.
Johanna Konta continues to confound her dwindling collection of doubters, not to mention some illustrious opponents, the latest of them the garlanded Venus Williams.
Before a ball was struck, the 2016 Australian Open was pitched into a match-fixing scandal on Monday that pointed a shaky but accusatory finger at an unnamed grand slam winner and seven other players in the main draw who have been investigated for match-fixing or were under suspicion in the past decade.
Novak Djokovic survived a determined fightback from Andy Murray to claim the Madrid Open title for the second time in his career. The Serb carved out a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory, by turns brilliant and battling, to triumph in two hours and six minutes and move one win ahead of Rafael Nadal as the player with the most Masters Series titles to his name.
Normally when a leading player suddenly is missing a coach, candidates move from the shadows to centre stage as if auditioning for a Hollywood movie. But John McEnroe has been unusually quiet this week; perhaps he no longer wants to coach Andy Murray.
Andy Murray stands on the verge of tennis history yet again. He knows a win over Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals of the French Open on Friday will put him in his first final here – completing the list for all four majors and becoming the first British player to get to the concluding day in Paris since Bunny Austin in 1937.
Venus v Serena: it sounds like some intergalactic showdown to save the planet rather than a tennis match between the two members of the Williams family who over nearly two decades have simultaneously dominated their sport like no one else.
When Andy Murray was crushed 6-0, 6-1 by Roger Federer at the World Tour Finals in London last November, the omens looked bad for his coach, Amélie Mauresmo.
Stan Wawrinka, the French Open champion and owner of his first home title after beating Marin Cilic in Geneva on Saturday, should be striding into Roland Garros bursting with pride and confidence, but gardeners have made louder entrances here than did the Swiss on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
There was gushing from the prime minister, pride on the front pages and reflected glory on tennis courts up and down Italy.
Andy Murray is through to his first final in this old, gilded event and is in excellent shape for the French Open, which starts next Sunday – but he is not altogether sure playing Novak Djokovic on his 29th birthday will do him any favours.
Move over Steffi Graf, you have company. Serena Williams equalled the great German’s open-era record of 22 grand slam singles titles on Saturday after a hard-fought but well-deserved 7-5, 6-3 victory over another German, Angelique Kerber for her seventh Wimbledon crown.
Djokovic has gone, Federer has fallen and after a display of focused efficiency on Centre Court on Friday evening, Andy Murray will contest the Wimbledon final on Sunday as the favourite to reclaim the title he first won three years ago.
In the past week the ground has twice shifted beneath Andy Murray’s feet.