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Beyond the Baseline

Daily Bagel: Maria Sharapova gracious in defeat

The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.

• After a 6-3, 6-0 drubbing, Maria Sharapova teaches Runner-up Speeches 101. Classy, articulate, heartfelt, remarkable given the circumstances. It starts at 4:20 in the clip. Have we ever heard Maria's voice tremble like that?

• Grantland's Louisa Thomas with some thoughts on Sharapova and Andy Murray. Of Sharapova's shriek, Thomas writes: "It is nasty. But — if you can ignore how annoying it is, for the other players as well as the fans — there's something beautiful about it. It's a reminder that despite all the photo shoots Sharapova does, despite the legginess of her stride and the immaculate tailoring of her specially designed tennis dresses, she's willing to look ugly when she plays."

• Jason Gay of The Wall Street Journal on why tennis rules the world: "But what's happening in the men's game is as close as sports gets to unadulterated joy, the kind of outrageous viewer experience that leaves the audience gasping, as if anaerobic, as it did Sunday morning, in the men's final of the Australian Open."

Associated Press columnist John Leicester says Novak Djokovic "is becoming one of those special athletes who transcends the confines of sport, a figure whose achievements on the field of play teach us not only new things about sporting endeavor but also about the bottomless well of human possibility."

• Some ruminations on Victoria Azarenka at WTA Backspin. "With the whole 'Whack-a-Vika' campaign in Melbourne having proven to have the opposite effect on the player in question," Todd Spiker writes, "Azarenka thus joins the likes of other Slam winners who've discovered that some people associated with the sport choose to take issue with precisely some of the things that have helped them become a champion in the first place. Next to the 'too cheeky' [Martina] Hingis, the 'too disrespectful' Serena [Williams], the 'too hungry' Justine Henin and the 'too imperial' [Maria] Sharapova, we can add the 'too EVERYTHING' Azarenka. Now, the Belarusian's mission will be to be embraced by the masses. Or not. It doesn't really matter."

•  There will be a lot of talk about how Djokovic is "in Rafael Nadal's head," but Peter Bodo lists some reasons why it's beyond his head: The Serb is in his game.

•  Non-tennis: A bit late, but Happy Chinese New Year, everyone.
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