Mum’s the word: Serena has fences to mend

Serena Williams comforts Tatjana Maria after winning the match during the Australian Open at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, January 15, 2019.— Reuters pic
Serena Williams comforts Tatjana Maria after winning the match during the Australian Open at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, January 15, 2019.— Reuters pic

MELBOURNE, Jan 15 — Brief stories from the Australian Open today:

Neighbourhood bash

Serena Williams might need to mend some fences with Tatjana Maria after humiliating the German 6-0, 6-2 in the first round at Melbourne Park. The pair are neighbours at Florida’s Palm Springs and have young children who are playmates, but Serena was not letting emotion hinder her bid for a record-equalling 24 Grand Slam. She was relentless during their first round clash and Maria left the court in tears after her humiliation, with Serena expressing regret they met so early in the tournament. “We are neighbours and we go to each others houses and our daughters play together,” she said. “Her daughter is older than mine, at Wimbledon she was helping mine out. I’ve got a video if it, it was the cutest thing in the world. Us mums need to come out and play and do well. I wish we could have played later on.”

Vote for me, I’m great

American Madison Keys has revealed she wants to become involved in representing players’ interests on the WTA Tour, but admits her campaign slogan is a work in progress. Keys, the daughter of a lawyer, spoke eloquently about her desire to go on the players’ council and try to grow the game, though she was reluctant to outline her platform. “I don’t want to be the typical political person who’s like, I promise all these things, and then you get in then and you’re like, oh wait, that’s not possible,” she said. A smiling Keys offered only one reason why players should vote for her to represent them: “Because I’m really great — that’s all I’ve got so far.”

A serve for the ages

Croat veteran Ivo Karlovic showed his booming serve has lost none of its firepower as he banged down 39 aces, one for each year of his age, in defeating Hubert Hurkacz 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/5). The 6ft 11in (2.11m) world number 73 will be 40 next month as he attempts to reach the last 32 at Melbourne for a sixth time. Eighth seed Kei Nishikori will be next in the firing line against a man who hit 70 per cent of his first serves Tuesday, rattled off three second serve aces and had 85 of his 158 serves in the match unreturned. Fans of long rallies might want to give it a miss though.

Twitter! Let me in

Fast-rising Denis Shapovalov, 19, has been locked out of his Twitter account over a mix-up about his age, and he desperately wants to get back online. After cruising into the Australian Open second round, the young Canadian, seeded 25, pleaded for help. “There’s some issues with my birth date and stuff. I’m actually just trying to figure that out right now. They don’t want to let me back in. Please, Twitter, let me back in,” he said. He added that he was “confused” about what was going on. “They just kind of kicked me out, said, yeah, I need to send a letter or something.” — AFP