Daily Bagel: Sloane Stephens' coach: Victoria Azarenka 'cheating within rules'
The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.
• Video: Now just imagine that video for an hour and 29 minutes. Thursday's men's semifinal match at the Australian Open was a Novak Djokovic clinic.
• While Sloane Stephens downplayed Victoria Azarenka's decision to take a controversial medical timeout in their semifinal match at the Australian Open, the U.S. teen's coach wasn't ready to let it go. David Nainkin told USA Today that Azarenka's tactic "was very unfair -- cheating within the rules."
• Fox Sports' Greg Couch was less willing to mince words. But most interesting is his recounting of how Roger Federer employed a similar tactic against Nikolay Davydenko at the 2010 Australian Open.
Still, in one day at the Australian Open three years ago, I watched Roger Federer use a fake bathroom break against Nikolay Davydenko, and Novak Djokovic ask to leave against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga so he could go throw up.
"When the sun comes from the side, the ball seems half the size and is just hard to hit,’’ Federer said that day. “I never take toilet breaks, but I thought 'Why not?' ’’
Asked when he noticed something was wrong with Djokovic, Tsonga said this: “Five years ago.’’
Yes, these things irritate the players, who know exactly what’s going on.
• Serena Williams' Los Angeles condo is up for sale. She's not moving to Paris, is she? Just asking.
• Carl Bialik of The Wall Street Journal argues that the reason for more upsets on the women's tour compared to the men's tour isn't about hormones -- as a smiling Jo-Wilfried Tsonga seems to think -- but format. Here's the bottom line: Best-of-three matches yield more upsets. Look no further than the ATP's Masters 1000 events for evidence. Last year the top four seeds made the semifinals only once, in Shanghai.
Thirteen times in all since the 2009 Australian Open, one of the top four seeds in the men’s singles draw lost two of the first three sets in a match before the semifinals, only to come back to win and make it to the semis. It’s happened twice each to [Rafael] Nadal, [Andy] Murray and [David] Ferrer when they were top-four seeds, three times to [Novak] Djokovic and four times to [Roger] Federer (counting just once when it happened to them twice in the same tournament). The best-of-five format does sometimes work the other way: Four times one of the top-four seeds was knocked out before the semis after winning two of the first three sets, three of those times in quarterfinals when a win would have assured him the semifinal spot. Even so, that means in a best-of-three-set men’s tennis world, the top four seeds would have filled just 37 of those 68 spots, or only five more than the women have. That’s a relatively minor difference, considering many analysts consider the current top three plus Nadal to be the best quartet in men’s tennis history.
• Doug Robson on why Sloane Stephens isn't the next Melanie Oudin.
• Bob and Mike Bryan are one win away from a record-breaking 13th Grand Slam title.
• Casey Dellacqua and Ashleigh Barty are giving the home fans someone to cheer for. They're into the women's doubles final against Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.• Non-tennis: The strange world of Basque sports, in photos.