Giga Bites 1 – Director’s Cut

Below is a slightly extended version of Giga Bites, which appeared in The Saturday Age on 5th February, 2011

by Andrew Gigacz



They may have been the number one and two seeds, but Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonereva were always going to be up against it in their efforts to win the women’s Australian Open title last weekend. A scan through the records shows that no player, male or female, with a surname containing the letter “Z” has ever won the Australian Open.

Several have come close. In 2007, Fernando Gonzalez was defeated by Roger Federer in the men’s final, while four “Z” women have also fallen at the final hurdle. Australian Di Fromholtz was runner-up back in 1977 and the 1990s were littered with women’s runners-up whose surname contained a “Z”. Mary Joe Fernandez lost to Steffi Graf in 1990 and to Monica Seles in 1992. In 1994 and 1995 Aranxta Sanchez Vicario was on the receiving end against Graf and Mary Pierce; and finally, in the 1998 Australian Open, Conchita Martinez succumbed to Martina Hingis.

Interestingly, all of those finals were straight sets losses.

In the men’s draw, every other letter of the alphabet has been represented at least once in the surnames of Australian Open winners going back to 1905, including exotic letters such as “Q” (Adrian Quist – 1936, 1940 and 1948) and “X” (Fred Alexander – 1908). Q, X and Z are yet to be represented in the list of women’s champions.



Many of those not of the “Magpie” persuasion are keen to point out that Collingwood still hasn’t attained September premiership glory since 1958. The Pies’ last two flags, in 2010 and 1990, were both won in the first week of October, the result of drawn finals pushing the Grand Final back by a week. There are those who might wonder if Eddie McGuire might have had an influence over the AFL’s new schedule, which has the Grand Final marked down for the first Saturday in October as a matter of course!

Collingwood’s success last year might also be attributed to the fact that their 2010 playing list included not one player who was born in September. But the AFL’s Season Guide 2011, released this week, reveals that that is no longer the case. The return of Chris Tarrant, born on the 18th of September, 1990 (yes, a Magpie premiership year), means that the Pies’ are no longer “September-free”. How this will influence their quest for back-to-back premierships remains to be seen.




Some players appear to have been born to play footy. In the case of Melbourne’s new captain, Brad Green, it seems doubly so. Green’s date of birth is 13/3/81 and every footy “stat-head” worth his salt knows that 13 goals 3 behinds tallies up to a total of 81. There are several other league players whose birth-dates equate to footy scores. These include Hawthorn’s Sam Mitchell (12/10/82), Adelaide’s Brent Reilly (12/11/83), Brisbane Lion Daniel Merrett (12/12/84), Essendon’s Cale Hooker (13/10/88) and Green’s team-mate James Strauss (14/6/90).



A certain amount of serendipity in the fourth race at Doomben last Saturday. The “First 4” numbers were 1-6-5-3. 1653 just happens to be the year that Oliver Cromwell gave the boot to what was known as the “Rump Parliament” in England. Which makes it very appropriate that race four at Doomben was won by a horse named “Ollie Vollie”!


At 29 years of age, Li Na played some of the best tennis of her career at last week’s Australian Open. In her first Grand Slam final, she won the opening set before finally succumbing to Kim Clijsters. Having made the semi-finals last year, it seems the Australian Open brings out her best. Hardly surprising then, that “IN THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN” is an anagram of “LI NA NEAR THE TOP IN AUS!”

About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?

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