Mary Hannigan: Lloydie left gnawing on his fist after Serena makes it sweet 16

Champion’s smile is getting bigger too – please take note, Mr Moody Murray

Serena Williams poses with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after winning the  Australian Open in Melbourne. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Serena Williams poses with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after winning the Australian Open in Melbourne. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

 

‘It’s inconceivable to think that Maria Sharapova could lose to anybody 16 times in a row, it’s impossible,” the BBC’s John Lloyd told Sue Barker before Saturday’s Australian Open final, tipping the Russian to prevail.

And with that Maria Sharapova lost to Serena Williams for the 16th time in a row.

Her last victory over the American came in the same month George W Bush beat John Kerry in the presidential election. Still, Sharapova should spare a thought for Martina Navratilova, who was reminded during the presentation ceremony that it’s 30 years since the last of her three Australian Open victories.

And that presentation ceremony? Is it the longest in all of sport? When the president of Tennis Australia thanked “the 8,412 people who came together to run this tournament”, you had a sinking feeling he’d call each of them to the podium for a hug.

Mercifully, he didn’t, which Sharapova in particular seemed to appreciate: when you’ve just lost for the 16th time in a row to an opponent with whom you do not have the closest of relationships, the last thing you really want is to be kept hanging around on court having to smile like an Oscar nominee who hasn’t won.

Serena? Well, if you’d a euro for every sportswoman of her generation you could name as being greater, you’d probably be euro-less, only Margaret Court and Steffi Graf now ahead of her in the majors’ list. And at 33, she’s only warming up. “Thirty is the new 20,” she said, and seeing as she has won six of the last 13 majors since hitting the three decade mark, she might just be right.

“I went on the courts with just a ball, a racquet and a hope – and that’s all I had,” she told the crowd, Martina nodding in the background.

Lost cause

Pat Cash

Sharapova, he said, was the new breed, and he confidently forecast that the American would not “be in the mix at the sharp end of the [2007] tournament”. Which she won.

Which makes watching her keep on keeping on a joy, the more she’s written off, the deeper she digs. And the bigger the smile after each success.

Murray should watch and learn. His attitude, argued Lloydie after the final, was “inexcusable”, although if you were confronted with Djokovic in that form, you’d probably be a bit moody and downcast too.

Murray supporters weren’t best pleased with Lloydie’s ‘meltdown’ analysis, nor were they impressed by Andrew Castle’s contribution on the BBC, Castle possibly now the least appreciated sporting pundit on telly since Adrian Chiles departed ITV.

Some chap circulated a screenshot of Castle opining after the final with the BBC caption “Reached 3rd round at Queen’s Club in 1986” under his face, which called to mind what RTE did to Richard Sadlier (“Scored in Uefa European under-18 third place play-off”) – his response quite outstanding: “I once scored twice in training for Broadford Rovers under-10s. Gonna ask RTE to go with that caption tonight.”

Parental advisory

Kim Sears

So, if Andy reads headlines along the lines of “Murray is lost cause – for all his talk, he will never return to the top again”, he should dust down his trophy cabinet in anticipation of more silverware. Do it the Serena way – show ’em.

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