AUSTRALIAN OPEN SCENE: Sharapova's boyfriend offers insight

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Maria Sharapova's boyfriend described the five-time major winner as a great fighter, which he meant as a compliment.

One of tennis' power couples, Sharapova and No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov are discreet about their relationship but the up-and-coming Bulgarian star offered an opinion on what makes her such a tough player.

''You can't name one thing in particular with her,'' said Dimitrov, a Wimbledon semifinalist. ''I think she's been fighting throughout all those years, through everything that is in her way, jumped all the hurdles and all the obstacles.''

''By far the greatest fighter ever,'' he said.

Sharapova showed her grit in a narrow escape Wednesday, saving two match points before beating Alexandra Panova in their second-round match.

''Days like that define who you are,'' said Dimitrov, who also advanced to the third round Wednesday.

By Jocelyn Gecker -- http://twitter.com/jgecker

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TOUGH TALK: Bethanie Mattek-Sands has been injured so often in her colorful career, she's become practically blase about the pain.

Her tattoos are another matter.

After sitting out six months last year while recovering from hip surgery, Mattek-Sands is into the third round at the Australian Open for the first time. The surgery was just the latest in a long string of physical ailments for the American, but she says her body is feeling the best it has in years.

''I've been through so many injury comebacks, you almost don't even think about it,'' she said. ''I've torn my MCL (medial collateral ligament), torn my shoulder, torn my ankle, broke my bone in my foot, two hip surgeries. It's something I've had to learn to fight with.''

Coloring in the intricate flower tattoos on her right arm, however, has tested her pain threshold. She could only sit for four hours at a time which, according to her tattoo artist, is longer than many men can handle.

''I said, `If I ever see a guy that has this clean,''' she said, pointing to her colorful inner bicep, '''I'm going to call him out. I'm going to take his man card away.'''

By Justin Bergman -- https://twitter.com/justinb3rg

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TENNIS ON YOUTUBE: When Maria Sharapova needs some intel on an unfamiliar opponent, she turns to YouTube.

''Especially if I'm unfamiliar with a girl I'm facing,'' the No. 2-ranked Sharapova said. ''I don't watch too much. But, yeah, it's nice to have.''

However, she's not as partial to watching videos of herself.

''I really dislike doing that,'' Sharapova said. ''But it's quite educational, at least that's what the coaches tell me.''

Seeing herself on video can offer insights to her game that she might not have realized. But after her performance Wednesday, which included 51 unforced errors, Sharapova said her focus for the next round will not be her opponent.

''After today's match, I really just want to focus on what I have to do.''

By Jocelyn Gecker -- http://twitter.com/jgecker

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RAISING EYEBROWS: Australian Nick Kyrgios figured he had one Grand Slam left to play as a teenager so he wanted to mark the occasion.

He made a few marks, actually - shaved into his eyebrow.

After beating Ivo Karlovic to reach the third round of the Australian Open, the brash 19-year-old discussed the inspiration for the lines shaved into his eyebrow and hair, which have been plastered all over the Australian newspapers this week.

Chalking it up to ''youth,'' Kyrgios thinks he's bound to mature soon and tone down his style.

''I got sort of known for having some lines in my hair at some stage last year. It's my last Grand Slam as a teenager,'' he said. ''I don't think I'll be doing this stuff when I'm 20.''

As for whether eyebrow art will catch on in tennis, he's doubtful.

''You know, you're not going to see Roger (Federer) or Novak (Djokovic) doing things like this,'' he said.

By Justin Bergman -- https://twitter.com/justinb3rg

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GETTING HITCHED: Tomas Berdych popped the question at the beach. And his now-fiancee, Czech model Ester Satorova, has tweeted a picture of the ring.

The couple announced their engagement at the Australian Open, where the 29-year-old Berdych advanced to the third round and said he had proposed during a holiday late last year.

''It was simple,'' he said, when asked for details about the proposal. ''It was after dinner on the beach.''

His fiancee offered a bit more color.

''Our secret from last year holiday is OUT,'' she tweeted, with the hashtags ''Maldives'' and ''engagement ring.'' She attached a picture of her hand inside a heart etched in white sand, a large diamond on her ring finger.

Berdych, a 2010 Wimbledon finalist, said he feels a good balance between his personal life and tennis career.

''I can talk with my partner about basically everything ... I can just completely switch off from the tennis,'' he said. ''Then once you step back on the tennis side, then you are absolutely focused (on) whatever you do... so for me, I think it's a great combination.''

By Jocelyn Gecker -- http://twitter.com/jgecker

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