Tramlines

  • Improvement fails to reap rewards for Murray

    New year, same end result for poor old Andy Murray.

    The wait for a Grand Slam title goes on for Britain's number one after an epic struggle with Novak Djokovic that ebbed and flowed over five thrilling sets ended with that familiar feeling of disappointment for Murray.

    He gave his all for nearly five hours but ultimately he was made to rue a disastrous fourth set as Djokovic raced away in the fifth and, despite a miraculous recovery from Murray at 5-2 down to push the match right to the death, the Serb closed out the match to book a mouth-watering date with Rafael Nadal on Sunday.

    Yet it was

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  • Rafa provides fireworks in Melbourne

    Who would you want to play for you if your life was on the line? Roger of Rafa?

    That was the rather excellent question Jim Courier put to fellow Channel 7 commentator Lleyton Hewitt midway through the third set of the latest, thrilling instalment of the Federer-Nadal rivalry.

    After (not too much) deliberation, Hewitt opted to put his life in Rafa's hands over the course of a five-setter because the Spaniard, he said, simply never gives up.

    Lleyton, this time you survive.

    A truly monstrous performance from Nadal saw him dig deep into his reserves and fight back from a set down to win in four

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  • Maria takes shrieking for grunted

    Maria Sharapova

    The debate over whether the shrieking in women's tennis has gone too far went up another notch after Maria Sharapova hit back at comments from Agnieszka Radwanska.

    The "grunt-o-meter", as its being called at Melbourne Park, frequently registers shrieks of over 94 decibels during Sharapova's matches with Victoria Azarenka not far behind her.

    And after losing to good friend Azarenka in yesterday's quarter-final, Radwanska said she thought the WTA ought to do something about a rule change.

    "To be honest, I'm kind of used to it, especially with Vika," the Pole said. "We've known each other for

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  • Challenge rules need clarification

    If there is one thing we've learnt from day nine of the Australian Open it's that clarification is desperately needed over the challenge rule.

    After the David Nalbandian debacle the other day, confusion over when is acceptable to challenge a call reared its ugly head once again when Rafael Nadal took on Tomas Berdych.

    At a crucial point in the first set, Nadal found himself cursing the lack of clear guidelines over the rules pertaining to when and when not is acceptable to challenge a line call.

    Rafa's belated attempted challenge was ignored by umpire Carlos Bernardes, the Spaniard having

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  • Stars put into shade in Melbourne

    An invincible aura was vaporised on day eight of the Australian Open as Ekaterina Makarova forced Serena Williams to accept her own mortality by ending the American's 17-match winning streak at Melbourne Park.

    Williams had been untouchable at the tournament for pretty much three years - having won in 2009 and 2010 and not competed last year through injury - during which time the legend of Serena The Untouchable had gathered quite some momentum.

    So much so that even though she sorely lacked match practice following a life-threatening illness, and also rolled her ankle at a warm-up tournament,

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  • Deconstructing Tommy

    Tomas BerdychThe Aussie crowd are renowned for being a fair bunch who, despite having the occasional favourite will support pretty much anybody and everybody. They are passionate about their sport, flocking to Melbourne Park in search of a good day out with some good tennis and not just because it's "the place to be seen" in the last two weeks of January.

    They are also a sarcastic bunch, the Aussies - as Victoria Azarenka found out against Casey Dellacqua when they mocked her grunting - but it's all in the name of fun and a famed good day out.

    But fall short in the sportsmanship levels and you will find

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  • Lendl already proving positive addition for Murray

    Andy MurrayTramlines couldn't help but feel a sense of déjà vu watching Andy Murray on the middle Saturday of the first Grand Slam of the year.

    We've been here before.

    The Scot was imperious against Michael Llodra, who threw everything he could at his opponent only to be undone in straight sets.

    Tramlines genuinely believes that if Murray had not had the mis-fortune to be born in the era of two of the greatest players of all time he would have a handful or Grand Slams to his name by now. But even we were beginning to question whether the Scot would ever manage to take that final step and actually win a

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  • How not to win friends and influence people

    Victoria Azarenka protests a line call

    If Victoria Azarenka wins the Australian Open, it's entirely possible she will become the most unpopular champion to have ever been crowned at Melbourne Park.

    The screeching Belarusian is winning no friends Down Under as the racket she makes on every point and her "bad emotions", as she calls them, begin to grate on the Aussie public.

    There were signs of unrest from the stands during her second-round win over win Casey Dellacqua on Wednesday, when sections of the crowd mocked her loud grunting.

    And when she lost her cool towards the end of her 6-2 6-4 third round win over Mona Barthel today,

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  • Murray set for French exam

    Andy Murray celebrates victory over a Frenchman

    The French and Scottish have always enjoyed a friendly relationship, a bon accord based on a mutual suspicion of the English and a love of whisky.

    But the Auld Alliance will have to be put on hold over the coming days as a quirk of the draw at this year's Australian Open could see Scotland's finest Andy Murray have to face as many as four of his Gallic cousins.

    Murray despatched Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin in straight sets on Thursday but further tests from across the Channel await, starting with Michael Llodra in the next round.

    Should Murray get past Llodra, he then faces a possible

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  • Five-set marathons not only exhausting players?

    John Isner

    Women's tennis is frequently bashed for its ability to produce a disproportionate number of service breaks, with some particularly cynical tennis fans even questioning whether the women know that service games are supposed to be the easier ones to win.

    Tramlines is not among those voices, and has decided the time is right to turn this question on its head and ask whether some of the men on tour don't know that the point is to win in as FEW sets as possible.

    There are few things that make TL shudder more than sitting down to another long day of Grand Slam tennis commentary and seeing Nicolas

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