Australian Open Close to the End

Prelude to the Outback Champions Series

We are getting to the finish line here in Australia and some of the usual suspects are in place...Federer, Roddick, Sharapova and Clijsters. We also have some surprises in Gonzales, Haas, Vaidisova and Serena W. Lets start with the last one mentioned and go from there.

Serena Williams is back and making it happen. Her talent is carrying her. She came into this event undercooked with only 4 tournaments in the last 12 months but she insisted she was geared up and ready to go from day 1 and has backed that up. Her talent has never been in question but her fitness and commitment have come under fire here in the media. She certainly has had the final word on that with her results. I continue to marvel at her ability. She is an amazing athlete and I am not alone in wanting to see her get more from her talent. I want her to excel and find her maximum potential which I think she is still miles away from. I said the same of Andy Roddick a year ago and we are seeing him become a more well rounded player and the results are quickly following. Jimmy Connors has done more than a fine job and one has to wonder if Serena learned how to maximize her talents along that line how high up would be. It speaks volumes of her talent that she has achieved so much without a truly experienced tennis mind on her bag. Tiger Woods left the comfort of the advice of his father for the wisdom of Butch Harmon and others in his efforts to find his maximum potential but we have not seen Serena (or Venus) do the same yet. I hold out hope that she will eventually seek to find out how good she can be one day before it is too late.

Speaking of potential, a Tip of the Hat to Larry Stefanki, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert for their immediate coaching impact on Fernando Gonzalez, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray. Each of these coaches took the baton in the middle of 2006 and the results speak loudly. Each of these players had different areas of need but I am confident that each of these coaches could have traded places and impacted the players almost identically as they are all incredibly astute strategists and talent managers. An extra special Tip to Jimmy as he is an Icon who adds to the sport merely by his presence at an event. The sport has given much to Jimmy but he is giving back by being in the arena and using his talents to assist Andy's re-ascent. Tennis needs its Icons to be present and it is great to have Jimmy back. Speaking of Icons we had Vilas, Rosewall and Laver sitting together in the Presidents Box today at Rod Laver Arena. It sent chills through the venue when they were shown on the big screen.

It has remained cool down here in a tourney that traditionally tests the players with brutal conditions. one of the coolest Opens I can recall other than one hot day which received a lot of media attention. With the men's semis and finals now played at night fitness is no longer really an issue if you make the last 4. I missed that in 93 when I played Edberg in 105 degree heat...

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