–1– Unless you are a vampire, or whoever those “Twilight” werewolf dudes in the jean shorts were, you may not be aware the Australian Open is going on because Melbourne is 14 hours ahead of us (or in my Australian travel experience, five glasses of chardonnay and 1 Ambien). It’s the first of tennis’ four yearly Grand Slams (also French, Wimbledon, and U.S.), and although #1 seed Serena Williams stormed through her first two matches—setting an Open record with 61 wins—she fell Sunday to #14 Ana Ivanovic. Ivanovic had been #1 herself in 2008 but has not won a Grand Slam event since.
Serena, as it turned out, had been struggling with back pain. She and sister Venus had already withdrawn from doubles play due to a leg injury to Venus. But experts say Serena, at 32, is playing some of the best tennis of her life. At least the sisters can rest now from a record Melbourne heat wave. Also ousted in unlucky Round 4 was #3 Maria Sharapova to #20 Dominika Cibulkova.
–2– “Really CBS? Brady/Manning—it’s not the moon landing.” – My Friend Camilo.
Yeah, you might have heard there were a couple of NFL games yesterday, like the AFC Championship in which Denver’s Peyton Manning and New England’s Tom Brady, interchangeably labeled “best quarterback,” met for perhaps the last time in their wizened careers (Brady is 36; Manning is 37, which pretty much makes you Dumbledore in football). And they did not disappoint in perfect 60-degree Denver weather. Maybe that’s what threw the Patriots off, that weird yellow sphere-thing in the sky instead of Boston snow. Losing cornerback Aqib Talib to a knee injury after a questionable hit from Wes Welker, a former Patriot, didn’t help, because Manning was the victor, throwing 400 yards and two TDs for the 26-16 win. It will mean the first Super Bowl for cornerback Champ Bailey in his 15-year career (another Dumbledore at 35).
The opposite matchup played out in the NFC Championship between Seattle’s Russell Wilson, 25, and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, 26. After a stunning National Anthem from Ann Wilson of Heart—a nod to a Seattle music heritage as rich as its coffee—The 12th Man cheered its Seahawks to a 23-17 win, despite a Wilson fumble on the first play of the game that resulted in a 49ers field goal. But the first play has been long forgotten after the last play, when Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman tipped the ball away from receiver Michael Crabtree, in the endzone, sealing the win. What followed became more “Real Housewives” than pro football. Sherman tried to shake Crabtree’s hand, and Crabtree shoved Sherman away by the facemask. Then, while interviewed by Fox’s Erin Anderson, Sherman went off, forcing a confused Anderson to throw back to the announcers when it seemed Sherman might go too far.
“I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get!”
The two men have taken their beef to Twitter now, which will surely keep us all entertained as we take a week off before the Super Bowl Feb. 2.
–3— It’s bad enough I will be traveling for work Super Bowl Sunday (although it is to Vegas), but I know I must be really busy if I missed the announcement of the lineups for PUPPY. BOWL. X. Yes, last week, Animal Planet announced the 40-odd pups who will tackle our hearts on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 2, three hours before kickoff. Don’t miss Suri the Siberian Husky who “thinks they should cut Miley Cyrus some slack” or Tyga the pit bull, who “knows what the Fox says.” It will also be the first year of the Kitten Bowl, airing on the Hallmark Channel.
–4– Remember hurdler Lolo Jones? Who tripped and fell during the Beijing Olympics 100-meter final, an event she was sure to win? And then finished fourth in the London Games? Now she has another shot at an Olympic medal—as a bobsledder in Sochi. Jones and sprinter Lauryn Williams were named to Team USA Sunday night, two of only a handful of athletes who have competed in both the Summer and Winter Games. Aja Evans was the third choice in the “push” position, rounding out the team with “drivers” Jamie Greubel, Elana Meyers and Jazmine Fenlator.
–5– Kevin Durant scored 54 points in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 127-121 win Friday night over the Golden State Warriors. It was the first individual 50-point game of this season, and good evidence that the NBA scoring leader might have an MVP title in his future.
Not doing so well despite starting the week with the traditional White House trophy presentation, were the reigning champion Miami Heat, who then lost three games in a row, including one to the Washington Wizards who at times led by as much as 32 points. They seemed to turn things around by their stop in Philly, though, winning 101-86 after the 76ers beat them in October.