Tennis: Things to look for at the Australian Open

By John Butler

* Numerous folk called Bruce, Baz or Cheryl suddenly discovering long lost Swedish or Spanish heritage and a love of foreign flags and group chanting.

* Maria Sharapova’s picture to appear at least daily in the major metropolitan papers. Some of the pictures may even relate to tennis.

*John Tomic to adroitly avoid putting pressure on his son by refusing to court unnecessary public controversy.

* Young Bernard to attract several acre feet of newsprint, whether he actually wins a match or not.

* The Hewitt camp to respond to Ken Rosewall’s calls for unity with all the charm, humour and sang froid that has been their trademark over the years.

* Any Australian who makes it to the second round in singles to become an instant folk hero and be guaranteed a night match.

* John Alexander to exhaust the dictionary of adjectival superlatives by Wednesday of the first week; all in a voice ringing with stentorian authority.

* The ongoing psychodrama between recently returned Belgians Justine Henin and “Aussie” Kim Clijsters to continue. Was Clijsters’ thrilling win in Brisbane a watershed? Or will Henin resume stealing her play lunch?

* Has Rafa Nadal returned fighting fit from injury, or will he continue to be haunted by nightmares about the pirate/bullfighter look going out of style?

*Roger Federer to remain the man to beat (you heard it here first).

*Serena Williams to finally come clean, admit she was completely at fault for her US Open outburst, and apologise unreservedly.

* Lines people to be issued with pepper spray for Serena’s matches, just in case she didn’t mean it.

* If the weather turns hot, expect the debate on shutting the court roof to go all the way to the Supreme Court.

* Lleyton to be a strong chance to win the tournament, provided the top six guys are all hit by the same bus (possibly driven by Ma Hewitt).

* If all Australian’s are eliminated in the first week, expect Tennis Australia executives to assure us that junior development programs are all progressing well and according to plan. And to reveal that they are also running Myki.

*Channel Seven to break the land speed record for network cross promotions during telecasts. Also look for the commentators to repeatedly express deep affection for Packed To The Rafters and Border Security.

* At fortnight’s end, someone will collapse to their knees in joyous celebration; someone may even shed tears. Winners will give thanks. And then a few weeks later the Oscars will be on.

* When does footy season start again?

About John Butler

John Butler has fled the World's Most Liveable Car Park and now breathes the rarefied air of the Ballarat Plateau. For his sins, he has passed his 40th year as a Carlton member.

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