Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tension off court at Aussie

Nice start: Victoria Azarenka serves during a first-round rout of Heather Watson.

Getty Images

Nice start: Victoria Azarenka serves during a first-round rout of Heather Watson.

MELBOURNE — Roger Federer's and Rafael Nadal's mutual admiration is being tested after the Spaniard said his rival may be letting other players take the heat as they criticize various aspects of tennis.

The rivals have long been friendly, but the relationship might be changing after a Nadal outburst on the eve of the Australian Open, which began Sunday.

After advising in English that his days of publicly agitating for tennis reform had done nothing except make him an occasional villain, Nadal then criticized Federer to Spanish media.

Federer has long been something of a statesman for the sport, without igniting controversy.

Nadal says the 16-time Grand Slam winner is letting other players cop the flak: "For him it's good to say nothing. Everything positive. 'It's all well and good for me, I look like a gentleman,' and the rest can burn themselves. Everyone is entitled to have their own opinions."

Nadal, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick led criticism about the state of the game at the U.S. Open, when poor scheduling and the contentious issue of how Grand Slam prize money is distributed arose.

The annual players' meeting in Melbourne on Saturday night was emotional, with Nadal, Roddick and other speakers drawing extended applause and with support growing to push Grand Slam tournaments to dedicate more revenue to the players. Regular tour events routinely commit more than 30 percent of revenues to prize money; players say that despite purse increases, the Grand Slam event percentages remain considerably lower.

Although players, including Alex Bogomolov, sent Twitter messages mentioning an imminent players strike, there is no sign of a work stoppage. A future strike remains unlikely, in part because many players have contractual obligations with sponsors linked to participation in the majors and because many players from the countries that host the Grand Slam events — France, Australia, the United States and Britain — feel strong loyalty after having received considerable aid from their national federations.

Nonetheless, the players seem intent on increasing the pressure.

Nadal said he plans to make his opinions known in private rather than in postmatch news conferences.

"Federer likes the circuit," he said. "I like the circuit. It's much better than many other sports, but that doesn't mean that it couldn't be better."

Aussie play begins: Third-seeded Victoria Azarenka won 12 straight games to finish off Heather Watson 6-1, 6-0 in 67 minutes today in the opening match at the Australian Open. "Well, the score is easy. To actually play the match, it's never easy," said Azarenka, who was unsettled because she had to get to Melbourne Park so early there was nowhere to buy morning coffee. Azarenka is one of six women who can finish atop the rankings depending on results at Melbourne Park. Eighth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska had a battle, fending off American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-7 (12-10), 6-4, 6-2 in a three-hour match. Mattek-Sands hit 81 winners but had 65 unforced errors.

>>fast facts

Key results

Men: Tomas Berdych (7) d. Albert Ramos 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3; Nicolas Almagro (10) d. Lukasz Kubot 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-5; Juan Martin del Potro (11) d. Adrian Mannarino 2-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-4; Feliciano Lopez (18) d. Leonardo Mayer 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 7-6 (7-2); Kevin Anderson (30) d. Frederik Nielsen 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

Women: Victoria Azarenka (3) d. Heather Watson 6-1, 6-0; Agnieszka Radwanska (8) d. Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-7 (12-10), 6-4, 6-2; Daniela Hantuchova (20) d. Varvara Lepchenko 4-6, 6-3, 6-2; Anabel Medina Garrigues (26) d. Eva Birnerova 6-3, 6-3.

TV: 9 p.m., ESPN2; 3 a.m. (Tuesday) ESPN2

Tension off court at Aussie 01/15/12 [Last modified: Monday, January 16, 2012 12:06am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  2. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  3. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  4. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  5. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …

    Twitter