The celebrations for Australia Day were all going along nicely here on Thursday until one of their sporting heroes decided to ruin it with an incident so bizarre you’ll think I have made it up.
On the day when he was named in Australia’s Davis Cup team to face China next month, Bernard Tomic locked himself in his house to avoid a confrontation with police over a driving incident. Yep, that’s right, you heard.
Unsurprisingly, for a 19-year-old who is on his way to superstardom, he drives a sports car. Worryingly, it is orange. More worryingly, it seems he’s a pretty dodgy driver for on Thursday he was involved in a stand-off with police, during which he locked himself in his house.
Tomic, who has claimed he is the victim of harassment having been pulled over by police over several times, was followed back to his Gold Coast home by police after he refused to pull over.
The teenager reportedly said: “It’s like I killed someone and then said to police: Take my license, all that jive. I can’t drive 88.5 (miles per hour).
According to reports, Tomic’s father John called the police’s actions “un-Australian”, whatever that means. Shame that it happened on the day Davis Cup captain Rafter described him as “more mature”.
On site, meanwhile, Australia Day celebrations take precedence over the tennis. A fly-by, or should that be a fly-past (I am never sure), by the Roulettes collided with lunchtime, flashing through the sky and leaving a trail of smoke in their wake.
The Roulettes, for anybody who has not heard of them (and that includes me, despite having been here for the tournament many times and sat through many a fly-through, or whatever it is), are the equivalent of the Red Arrows in Britain.
I’m sure they are appreciated by plenty of people throughout the country but whether the players are that appreciative is another question altogether. Going into their semi-final last night, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were informed that there would also be a 10-15 minute firework display in the city that would disrupt their encounter.
Luckily, the winners of 26 grand slam titles between them know what to expect having experienced it before but it could still be a momentum changer. Let’s hope it did not affect the outcome.
For those of you wondering what the Roulettes look like, here’s a picture.
Bob Bryan has played the Australian Open on tenterhooks the past fortnight, worried that his wife will give birth to their first child before he can get back home to the United States.
Together with his twin brother Mike, Bob is through to the final of the men’s doubles, which is due to be played on Saturday, which, coincidentally, is his wife’s due date.
The length of the flight back to the US means that even if he did try to get back in time it might be too late but on Thursday he revealed that his wife had felt “a few small contractions” while watching he and his brother struggle through their semi-final clash, during which they saved a match point.
So what was Bob’s idea of how to calm her down? Turn off the television during their matches.
“I’ve been telling her, ‘don’t watch the matches, it will get your heart rate going and you might spit that baby out’,” he said, eloquently. “It’s going to be tight the next couple days, especially with the nerves. She’s not getting out of bed. She can see the finish line. She knows she’s a few days away from me coming home. She’s not going to risk it, not now.
“Her due date is on Saturday. She’s getting big, man. She’s huge. She showed me her stomach. It doesn’t even look human. This thing, I don’t know how it’s staying in there.” Ah, fatherhood.
Finally, we have discussed the topic of grunting a couple of times in these pages and the women’s final will see more column inches devoted to the subject when Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka go head to head in the women’s final on Saturday night.
Twitter fanatics, though, seemed more preoccupied with putting a name to the shriek made by Petra Kvitova, the Wimbledon champion.
By all accounts, Kvitova is saying “Podj” which means “Come on” in Czech but Twitter was awash with other, frankly better names. Some said it sounds like a seagull; others called it a “shriek-bark”. But my favourite (and not just because I thought of this myself) is the pterodactyl.
It’s terrifying, though at least it only comes after the point, which is more than be said for Sharapova and Azarenka, among others.