Australian Open 2017, Day 7 highlights: Rod Laver’s finals pick, 'night knight Andy Murray' and more

From the top men and women's seeds shock exits to Zverev brothers' kinship, here are some of the off court highlights from Day seven of the Australian Open.

Born to run

 Australian Open 2017, Day 7 highlights: Rod Laver’s finals pick, night knight Andy Murray and more

Venus Williams. Reuters

Venus Williams said she was put on this planet to do one thing: play tennis. "I think I was born to play this game, I really do," she said, after beating Mona Barthel to reach the quarter-finals. "I've been blessed enough to do something I love and this was my calling because I grew so big and so tall, I can cover the court and hit it hard. I was meant to do this." It's a statement that could help explain the durability of the 36-year-old, who has been contesting Grand Slams for 20 years.

Rocket's man

Australian legend Rod 'Rocket' Laver, whose name adorns the Melbourne centre court, was one observer hoping for a ninth Grand Slam final between the long-time rivals.

"Yeah, it would be nice to see (Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal) in the final," he said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

"They've been battling each other for probably the last 11 years and now they're here with a good chance to go through.

"But again, any of these younger players coming through can be troublesome."

Laver, who called Federer his "favourite" modern-day player, added: "It is amazing to think that Roger Federer is playing as well as he is at this moment.

Night, Knight Andy

Meanwhile the newly knighted Murray, who had climbed to the top of the pecking order after a brilliant 2016, was left to ponder his defeat to serve-volleyer Mischa Zverev on the long flight home.

"Early knight", and "Night Knight, Andy", headlined the Aussie media, as the five-time losing finalist picked over his earliest Melbourne departure in eight years.

"I was full of confidence coming into the beginning of this year. I prepared as best as I could," Murray said.

"But maybe have to have a look back and assess some things and see maybe if there's some stuff I could have done differently, or did my opponent just play a great match?"

Hair today, gone tomorrow

One indication of Angelique Kerber's progress is her coach's increasingly hairy chin. Superstitious Torben Beltz doesn't shave until the tournament is over, meaning his beard grows longer and longer. "This is true," Kerber, the defending champion and women's world number one had set before her match. "One week to go. He always looks a little bit, I don't know... This is the ritual that we have. It is true." However, the top seed was upset by Coco Vandeweghe late on Sunday, which means that Beltz might be shaving soon. It also makes this Australian Open the first Grand Slam since the 2004 French Open that both top seeds have departed before the quarter-finals.

Zverev brotherhood

The Zverev family. Getty Images

The Zverev family. Getty Images

Mischa Zverev admitted he had "no Plan B" after his relentless serve-and-volley tactics stunned world number one Andy Murray.

The German has had a largely tumultous tennis career, before this massive win. After wrist surgery in 2014, left-hander Zverev couldn't hold a racquet and he has also broken ribs and suffered from a herniated disc and knee problems.

But he said a stint coaching juniors in unglamorous Futures tournaments -- "You stay at hotels, eat at Subway. You do all that stuff" -- convinced him to give his career another try.

He said a big reason for his comeback was his 19-year-old brother Alexander, who is already ranked 24 in the world and went down to Rafael Nadal in five sets in the third round.

"It was my brother who said, 'You can make it back, you can be top 100 again, be a great player'. I have to say thank you to him quite a lot," he said.

"When you see him doing well, there's a lot of positive emotions in the family on the court, off the court," added Zverev.

Arm and dangerous

Roberto Bautista Agut came off worse in a crunching collision with a ballboy's arm in round three. The Spaniard, chasing down a David Ferrer drop-shot, charged into the boy who was standing by the umpire's chair, which shook with the impact. Bautista Agut wheeled away looking dazed and sat on the player's bench, clutching his head in pain. But the ballboy stayed on his feet and looked untroubled, save for a quick rub of his arm.

With inputs from AFP

Updated Date: Jan 23, 2017 11:39:05 IST