MELBOURNE – At the net the Russians embraced, the loser weeping, the winner comforting her. One best friend had just stepped on the other’s heart. It’s OK, said the Australian Open girls’ winner Alina Korneeva to Mirra Andreeva, we’ll have lots of matches “when you will win, when I will win”.
The girls had played for 3hr 18min over 277 points and, already at 15, they know: This game is hard, it bruises, it demands, it’s unforgiving. When Thanasi Kokkinakis fell to Andy Murray after 5hr 45min, the Australian left the court holding a broken racket and then sent up an aching tweet: “This f*****g sport man.”