© Ella Ling

Petra Kvitova

Australian Open diary: Petra's younger man


There is plenty of sexism flying around in the tennis world, from the thorny issue of equal prize money to how the high-pitched grunting of the top female players is generally reported.

But here this fortnight another topic has been capturing the imagination of many people and it concerns the Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and her boyfriend Adam Pavlasek. Nothing new in that, you say? Well, that depends on your point of view. Pavlasek is just turned 17, four years younger than Kvitova and reached the semi-finals of the boys’ singles here.

If the shoes were on the other feet, it would not even be an issue but the local papers here have been full of talk about how unusual, unnatural it is for a 21-year-old girl to be going out with someone four years younger than her.

It doesn’t help that the two have been together for some time now, prompting the Herald Sun newspaper to point out that the age of consent in the Czech Republic is 15. Well that’s good to know.

The Czech press were the ones who revealed the two were together, something that Kvitova did not enjoy, for obvious reasons. “I was sad and astonished,” she said. But the best thing about it all is that Kvitova does not care what anyone thinks. Having lost her semi-final here on Thursday, she stayed to watch Pavlasek play on Friday and didn’t care who saw her.

Now there have been several videos go viral from the Australian Open over the past fortnight, including Janko Tipsarevic’s Tipsy Time video blogs, which we hope he continues at the French Open and throughout the grand slam year.

But this one perhaps beats the lot. Anyone who has watched Roger Federer over the years will know that one of his favourite tricks is to flick the ball to the ball boys and girls to test their reflexes. Sometimes it’s when his opponent’s serve is out; other times, like last night it’s when his own serve is out. When it comes off, it looks the flashiest thing you have ever seen but it needs the ball boys and girls to be alert. Well, Dylan Colaci became an instant internet star when he caught a shot from Federer that Ricky Ponting would have been proud of snaffling in the slips. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjyfMCTAqKU

”I didn’t have much time to think about it,” the 14-year-old said. “I just stuck my hand out and the ball just stayed there. I couldn’t believe it myself but then I just had to get straight on with the match. As soon as I got off court everybody was talking about it. My parents texted me and it was on Facebook.”

Australians love their sport and the cheer was as big as anything Nadal and Federer managed, which is some feat.

Andy Murray has had more than his fair share of celebrity fans at Melbourne Park over the years, with Billy Connolly and Ricky Hatton among those to have joined his support box in recent times. Rock band Kasabian were in the house in time for his semi-final against Novak Djokovic while a seat was being kept warm in his player box for Noel Gallagher, of Oasis fame. Gallagher is playing a concert on his own on Sunday and was due to land in Melbourne shortly before the match.

Olga Morozova has just begun a second coaching stint with Svetlana Kuznetsova and as her charge won the doubles crown here with Vera Zvonareva, the former Wimbledon and French Open runner-up said she was enjoying being back on the circuit. “I am missing my family a lot but it’s been good so far,” she said. Look out for former French and US Open champion Kuznetsova to move up the rankings soon.