That is all I can say. I mean lets get real here. The reason I don't care for Novak Djokovic is because in my opinion he would pretend to have an injury just to throw people off their game. The tennis press was full of his respiratory issues or his physical condition. Never once was it said he was faking. Still he got the nickname "Fakervic" from tennis fans. Some will say he stopped pulling that stuff but just last year at the US Open when Andy Murray was serving for the match he called a medical time out. New York fans booed, Murray held his nerve and his serve, and won the title. Never once has Djokovic ever said he was faking any of his medical issues.
In fact the last thing you would expect a tennis player, hell any athlete, to do is admit to faking injury, admit to gamesmanship. Well it's a little after 2a Eastern time in New York and a short while ago Victoria Azarenka stood before thousands in Rod Laver Arena and millions world wide and admitted she'd pulled a fast one.
The on court person interviewing Ms Azarenka asked her about the ten minute break she took on Sloane Stephens serve and Azarenka gave an answer that would make Olivia Pope down a few.
"I almost made the choke of the year," she responded. "I was overwhelmed." I think the interviewer was shocked into silence. It's easy to say what she should have asked as a follow up but it's my impression that she was too shocked to ask anything. In fact the follow up question would have had to be along the lines of "Victoria are you saying you took a break because you had just blown five match points and you were stressing out?" I think the woman wants/needs herjob and understood what asking that question to the woman ranked #1 in the world would have meant for women's tennis which is making a bit of a comeback. Azarenka babbled some more inanities and the interview was over. When she got to the ESPN interviewer she realized what she'd said and told him that she really couldn't breathe. Mind you ESPN aannounced that she was being treated for both a rib and a knee injury and that was why she was gone for ten minutes.
I haven't read anything from the presser yet but I'm sure Stacey Allaster is sitting at the bar mentioned above doing tequila shots. Azarenka has been on a bit of a charm offensive of late and even I was starting to cut her some slack. But character will tell and all of the work her PR team has done went out of the window tonight. Oh did I mention she came back after the ten minute break and broke Sloane to take the second set 6-4?
Just an aside. Sloane needs to learn that the best thing to do when your opponent is taking a MTO is to keep moving. Practice some serves. Do some stretches. Don't sit and wait for her to be ready to resume play. I'm sure her coaches will talk to her about that.
But the main story is still Azarenka. What she did was low, and she didn't fool anyone in RLA or viewers around the world. We all called bullshit. There was virtually no applause for her. It was a shameful display and I wonder if she'll ever recover from it.
I feel like Joan Rivers doing a "Bitch Stole My Look" segment on E!'s "Fashion Police". Repeat it with me. "A soft draw does not a champion make". Got that?
Maria Sharapova, once again "hidden" in the draw, faced Li Na in the first women's semi final match. The hype was such that ESPN's non biased commentators were upbeat and thought that Ms Li would do her usual schtick and lose the plot and then the match. When the dust settled Li Na defeated Maria Sharapova in straight sets 6-2, 6-2. And the match wasn't that close. I thought the comms were going to have a collective nervous breakdown. I am not a fan of Carlos Rodriguez but the Li Na who played this Australian Open was not the same woman who played a year ago. She is more fit physically and much more stable mentally. She played well the entire tournament but of course the talk was Pova vs Serena Williams and revenge for what happened at the Olympics. I'll say it again. A soft draw does not a champion make. At the end of the match the crowd was roaring it's support for Li Na. I'm guessing they'll be doing the same thing during the Final.
Haters To The Left
You're looking at a picture Serena Williams tweeted at some point this evening. The only word accompanying it was "Ouch".
In case you don't see what it is that is a picture of Serena's ankle, the one she twisted her first day on court. She played up to the Quarterfinals on that ankle. When you look at that picture, and then realize that she hurt her back on top of that injury and still tried to play and almost won, what Azarenka did this evening was doubly insulting. Get well soon Serena. And don't come back until you're physically ready.