Daily Bagel: Nadal has mixed reaction to Australian Open's "very fast" courts
The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.
• Video: Australian poet Rupert McCall wrote and performed a poem in honor of Roger Federer and Rod Laver called "The Masterpiece".
• Rafael Nadal was told the Australian Open courts were playing very fast. His response? "S***."
Nadal first went with a bit of cheekiness: “How do you know that?” he inquired of Flatman. “You’ve been there?” Flatman responded by pointing to Australian colleague Leo Schlink, sitting to his left and saying that’s what he’s hearing from the Australians.
“Yeah? Very fast? Yeah? S***,” were the immortal words of Rafa, that sent the journalists laughing. “I thought (Australian Open tournament director) Craig Tiley was a good friend.
“Okay. Doesn’t matter. I won tournaments on very quick surfaces, Montreal few times, and if I’m playing well, it’s not a big problem, playing on very quick surfaces. But it’s true that if it’s very, very quick, maybe it’s a problem.”
• Federer opened his 2014 win with a clean and decisive 6-4, 6-2 win over Jarkko Nieminen at the Brisbane International. It was an impressive display of hitting from Federer, who debuted his new Wilson racket as well.
• A day after notching a 6-0, 6-0 win in 37 minutes, Andy Murray lost to Florian Mayer 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the second round of the Qatar Open. Unless Murray takes a wildcard into a tournament next week, he'll go into the Australian Open with just two tour-level matches since September.
• Some great pictures from the Hopman Cup Ball, featuring cleaned up versions of John Isner, Sloane Stephens, Eugenie Bouchard, Milos Raonic and more.
• Jamie Hampton doesn't mind flying under the radar, but she wouldn't mind if you knew who she was.
Hampton is the third-ranked American behind Serena Williams (No. 1) and Sloane Stephens (No. 12) but further down in the profile stakes with the US public.
"It's OK," she said. "It has its advantages. No one really knows who I am so I can fly under the radar a little bit. I would like some exposure.
"Maybe not [as much as Venus Williams]. It comes with the territory. If I do well, I'm going to get more exposure and I will have to embrace it."
• Marin Cilic says new coach Goran Ivanisevic has helped simplify his game, particularly his serve.
• From Caravaggio to John McEnroe, the tennis tantrum has died a slow death.
“To simplify. Throw the ball in the air and hit it,” Cilic said of his compatriot's advice to him. “For me before, I was a lot thinking about the serve. To be more relaxed, nothing unusual. But we worked a lot on it, and it seems that it fit in the right place. We worked a lot also on volleys, and of course game at the net where I had the most space to improve. Last few years I was not doing too well at the net and I wasn't playing as offensive as I would want to, the way I would need to play, like a taller player, to have shorter points and put more pressure on the other guy.”