Everyone on the women’s tennis tour knows that giant-killing Bulgarian, Tzvetana
Pironkova’s relationship with her coach is a feisty one. It does complicate
their professional tenure that they are also personally involved. Not that you’ll find that factoid in the WTA media handbook.

Players
sleeping with their coaches is not unusual on the gruelling pro tennis circuit,
where living from a suitcase is hardly conducive to stable off-court
relationships, and the balance of convenience leads to locker room liaisons
more often than the media cares to report.

Until yesterday, Pironkova was better known on the
circuit for her firecracker on-court temper and her locker room outbursts
(often aimed in highly personal terms at her entourage), than her clean and
consistent strokeplay.

Maybe yesterday’s win over Venus Williams will change that: now Pironkova has to grow up. She
has broken through the Top 100 and now has a major scalp – the teen tantrums
must be left behind.

You will not see tantrums from the Chinese contingent here
at Melbourne Park. They are well-drilled, polite and destined for success
– if not here, than certainly on the Olympic courts at Beijing in 2008. Last
night’s gutsy performance by China’s number one ranked player, Li Na, against
Serena Williams demonstrated how far they’ve come in a short time.

Li took Williams to three sets and, with three game points for a two-love lead
in the third, looked to be on the way to a massive upset against the reigning
champ. Serena fought back like a champ and overpowered Li. Her claim,
however, at the post-match press conference that the win shows she’s fit indicates she’s either mildly
delusional or simply playing mind games.

Today, we will be watching Mark Philippousis try to prove his claim that “my best tennis is ahead of me.” The 29 year-old Scud will have to start by running down balls at practice,
something he hasn’t been doing in the lead-up to this tournament. We wish him
well, but facing Sebastien Grosjean today, to put it in punting terms, the Scud is the lay
of the tournament.