By James A. Crabtree
The Aussie Open is over and this means constant therapy and prescription pills until the French Open.
Regardless, here are some pointless observations, rumours, thoughts and complete randomness that needs to be shared.
1. Fred Stolle said, adamantly, a few days before the tournament that “Djokovic will win it all unless he breaks his leg.” Not only was he right but I do hate it when old people get it so so right.
2. During the qualifying rounds I got to know a guy I simply referred to as Security Guard Joe. Our conversations were like those you expect to share whilst drinking a brew with an old guy at a bar.
“Got any good bets?” he asked.
“Monica Puig, I’d say she will reach round 3, at least.” I responded boldly.
“Good. I’ll put some money down.”
I was wrong, need to avoid Security Guard Joe.
3. Bernie Tomic was the only non-seeded player to list Monaco as his residence, so somebody good is doing his accounts! According to rumour the young Australian was given 32 different racquets by Yonex to trial. He chose the 31st and is happy with it. Lets hope he is not as picky with shoes.
4. Djokovic should be featured in the next video by PSY, of Gangnam Style fame. He really should be, the guy just cant stop doing the dance.
5. Ever wondered why so many players look so clean cut? Wonder no more as the Australian Open featured a “Player Beauty Bar.”
6. Sloane Stephens had roughly 17,000 twitter followers before her match with Serena Williams. One little win later and she had 35,000. She now has over 60,000.
7. Spoke to an old Czech reporter who has been coming to the Open since 1991. He had some great tales, including the legend that Marcelo Rios spent $300,000 in the casino in 1998, the year he reached the final as the number one seed. Wow.
8. The media received a very cool media pack, sunscreen, that included a little towel, pen, mini fan, media guide and a USB stick that is not compatible with my computer….ARGHH.
Also, some journalists partook in a special Cardio Tennis session run by Tennis Australia. All athletes (I use that word very loosely) took themselves far too seriously, and all were panting like poodles on a hot summers day after only five minutes action. One journalist by the name of Crabtree was awesome and won a towel but we shall go into no further detail of these incredible exploits.
9. Bumped into Security Guard Joe. Luckily for me he didn’t put a bet on Monica Puig because he couldn’t remember her name.
“My shift is over soon mate, got any other good bets?” he asked.
“Del Potro is probably due a good run,” I suggested.
“Del Potro? “
“Yeah, the Argentinian. He should go deep, I’d put a dollar on him.” I said.
Security Guard Joe left quickly like I was Old Biff with a sports Almanac from Back to the Future 2. Del Potro lost later that day in the third round to Jeremy Chardy. I am not Old Biff, and really need to avoid Security Guard Joe for the rest of the tournament.
10. Stan vs Novak, for many this was the match of the tournament – can’t stop thinking about this one and a possible alternate reality where Stan got it then cruised through the rest of the tournament. Stan was amazing, up 1 set and 5-2 in the second. Imagine if he had capitalised and become the other Swiss with a slam.
11. The Media restaurant never once skimmed on portions. Thanks guys, but more dessert options next time, please.
12. Beneath Rod Laver Arena I passed a guy I thought I recognised, some small time Aussie player I thought. I said “Hey mate,” and he responded with a “Hey Mate” of his own. I stopped for a second, hang on, that wasn’t the Aussie I thought it was and this guy is wearing Nike’s with a hint of pink. That was bloody Roger Federer.
13. Popped in to see the stringers and one old time doubles player had a tension of 33lbs. What the!
14. The old Czech reporter told of how he once hit with Andre Agassi, whilst the eight-time grand slam champion was waiting around for Brad Gilbert on a practice court. I am insanely jealous.
15. Where’s Wally. Captain Australia. A bloke with a giant phone. A guy with a giant head. The Heard stole the show at matches featuring Aussie players. This crew should be a perquisite at every grand slam.
Like many of you I am having Aussie Open withdrawals. Hope this offers you some solace. Roll on Roland Garros.
By Romana Cvitkovic
Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm is in Strasbourg, France covering the WTA Internationaux de Strasbourg tournament live all week.
The second round was underway with victories by Francesca Schiavone, Anabel Medina Garrigues, and American Sloane Stephens.
Schiavone made quick work of Croatian qualifier Mirjana Lucic with a solid 6-1, 6-2 win in just an hour. Medina Garrigues fought a tougher battle against Su-Wei Hsieh and won in two tiebreaker sets, 7-6(9), 7-6(2). Stephens beat a former juniors player foe in three rollercoaster sets, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and saved 10-of-14 break points.
Other winners include French players Pauline Parmentier and wildcard Alize Cornet, qualifier Alexandra Panova, Japanese player Ayumi Morita and Swede Johanna Larsson who brought number eight seed Tamira Paszek of Austria tumbling out of the tournament.
Likewise, the doubles semifinals are set:
 Grandin/Uhlirova (RSA/CZE) d. Chang/Chuang (TPE/TPE) 75 64
 Govortsova/Jans-Ignacik (BLR/POL) d. Gámiz/Hermoso (VEN/MEX) 62 75
 Babos/Hsieh (HUN/TPE) d. Naydenova/Pereira (BUL/BRA) 63 64
Cadantu/Keothavong (ROU/GBR) d. Adamczak/Bengson (AUS/AUS) 63 63
ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2012
CENTRAL Start at 11:00 am
1. Ayumi Morita vs. Sloane Stephens
2. Johanna Larsson vs. Francesca Schiavone (NB 1:00 pm)
3. Anabel Medina Garrigues vs. Alizé Cornet (NB 3:00 pm)
4. Pauline Parmentier vs. Alexandra Panova
COURT 1 Start at 2:00 pm
1. Cadantu/Keothavong vs. Govortsova/Jans-Ignacik
Check back each day to catch all new action direct from the courts by our photographer Rick Gleijm! Scroll down for today’s full gallery of over 90 photos below.