Australian Open 2017, Day 9 Highlights: 'Wildcard' for Nadal's girlfriend, Vandeweghe's super coach and more

Here's a look at some interesting stories from Day 9 from around the courts of the Australian Open.

A wildcard - for my girlfriend

Rafael Nadal looked distinctly flustered when he was pulled up for describing his girlfriend as a "wildcard" entry for the tournament. Nadal's long-term girlfriend Xisca Perello is rarely seen courtside, but she has finally made an appearance in Melbourne, where Nadal has competed 11 times, reaching three finals and lifting the trophy in 2009. "After 10 years, finally my girlfriend gets a wildcard to come here," Nadal told on-court interviewer Jim Courier, as Perello looked on. "A wildcard? I'm speechless. That's a wildcard? She's not a main draw player? She needs a special entry?" Courier said. An embarrassed Nadal replied awkwardly: "Better we stop here."

Coco Vandeweghe's super coach

Craig Kardon coached Martina Navratilova to the 1990 Wimbledon title, led Lindsay Davenport into the top 10 for the first time and drove Mary Pierce to number five in the world. He is now working with Coco Vandeweghe, guiding her into her first ever Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open, and the American is glad to have him in her corner.

After upsetting seventh seed Garbine Muguruza at Melbourne Park on Tuesday, she credited Kardon for helping her deal with the pressure-cooker atmosphere at the year's first Grand Slam.

"Craig and I get along great. It's kind of a give-and-take relationship definitely where I take from him right now more than he's giving me," she said following her 6-4, 6-0 win that sets up a semi-final against Venus Williams.

"Before the match I was quite honest with him that I was a little bit nervous and I was a little bit scared.

"He's like, 'Okay, listen, that's normal to feel like that. But go out there, you'll be settled within the warm-up. If it's not the warm-up, the very first game you'll be settled. Don't even worry about it'.

"It's just the calming voice of someone you trust, you know that trusts and believes in you, was enough for me to feel better about myself just in this one situation. That happens a lot."

The pair have been collaborating for several years and Vandeweghe extolled the virtues of having a good coach, particularly for young players.

Italian junior in tears after controversial DQ

An Italian junior was in floods of tears after she was disqualified at the Australian Open for swiping away a loose ball which hit a ball boy, a report said on Tuesday. Maria Vittoria Viviani insisted she had done nothing wrong in the incident, which appeared to be accidental and for which she immediately apologised.

Video footage shows the 17-year-old patting a ball away after a point during her match with China's Wang Xinyu, before immediately raising her arm in apology to the ball boy.

"I'm still shocked. Yesterday was a very, very bad day for me because no one can feel good about this situation," Viviani said, according to Fairfax Media.

"It was hard for me. I was crying after for one hour-and-a-half non-stop. I was crying so much. I know, and all the people who know me, they know I did nothing wrong.

"I'm OK with myself because I know I did nothing. This helped make me a little bit better."

Fans on social media rallied round the girl, pointing out that senior players had gone unpunished for similar incidents.

In the men's singles first round, 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka hit a volley straight at Martin Klizan, who was standing motionless near the net, hitting him in the groin area.

"I was enjoying the game. The kid was moving and I hit him. I said sorry immediately because I saw him but he was OK. He was standing with the balls in his hands waiting for the match to start again," Viviani said.

"The thing that makes me angry is that I did a three-month pre-season for this tournament. We come from Italy –- it's so far away. We did 24 hours flight. It's not just a game, it's a job. That's the thing that hurts me more."

Standards on the slide

The Age newspaper reported some unusual goings-on regarding media at the Australian Open. One European journalist was found sleeping rough under a bridge and moved on by security, the paper said. It added that a Chinese journalist brought his five-year-old along, and left the child unattended at the tournament's play area while he carried on with his work. "When he returned at 7:00pm -- 10 hours later -- to pick up the child, he was greeted by police who sternly reminded the gentleman that the playground was not a day-care centre," the report said.


Day: 20,648; Night: 19,334. TOTAL: 39, 982.

Stat of the day:

36 — The age of Venus Williams, the oldest woman to make the semifinals at Melbourne Park in the Open era.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Updated Date: Jan 25, 2017 13:24:28 IST