Brief stories from the Australian Open on Saturday:
Roger Federer is adored around the globe — even when he’s playing the home favourite.
Australia’s John Millman, and many observers on social media, said the Swiss star had the lion’s share of crowd support in their five-set thriller on Rod Laver Arena.
Millman even had to shout down a heckler as he went within two points of shocking the six-time champion in the third round.
“Yeah, I love the support. Roger probably had a little bit more tonight,” Millman said.
“There was a guy trying to heckle me, calling me a few things, and then I called him something back.”
Milos Raonic is renowned for one of the biggest serves in tennis and Stefanos Tsitsipas felt the full weight of it in his third round loss to the Canadian.
He compared facing the 220 kph (136 mph) thunderbolts to being “punched in the face”.
“It’s one shot that you can get knocked down all the time, and you’re just there, getting punched in the face with one shot. You can’t do much,” said the Greek, who performs best when he can get into rallies.
“He’s serving aces, wide, on the line, so precise, so accurate, which obviously is a skill. I’m not saying it’s luck. It’s a skill. And the person deserves to win those points. Serve is great, one of the best in the game.”
Dominic Thiem said Melbourne’s changeable weather keeps players on their toes, as courts speed up and slow down and the balls bounce differently too.
“I feel great with the conditions. I feel good. But they’re changing so much because the weather is so inconsistent here,” Thiem said.
“I mean, it plays completely different when it’s 35 degrees (95 Fahrenheit) than what it’s 20 degrees, and it can change within hours.
“Maybe this is one of the tournaments where we have to adapt the most. But court speed and balls are completely fine for me.”
The courts play faster and the balls bounce higher in the heat. Players also have to adapt to more humid indoor conditions when the stadium roofs are closed for rain.
Melbourne’s unpredictable weather has been on full display at the Australian Open, with heavy downpours, wind, heat, smog from bushfires and even dirty rain — rain mixed with a dust storm, which coated courts in a fine layer of mud.