#answer of any question
The answer to any question .
Most people involved in tennis tournaments know about their inevitably abrupt endings, with a big void the first few days afterward as those involved make the transition back to normal life.
To ease things, I had the chance to eat out on Monday night with an American reporter and two Swiss reporters at Donovans, a very nice restaurant in the St. Kilda section of Melbourne right on Port Philip Bay, a huge body of water that transitions into the Bass Strait north of Tasmania.
I took a taxi home and my driver was young guy, 22, from Hyderabad, India. He works 10 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays driving a cab, and then Thursday, Friday and Saturday as a management trainee in a Woolworths store.
He said the worst situation for him driving people is, four girls or four guys, and that vomit can occasionally rear its ugly head. Maybe his most vivid memory was two guys getting naked in the backseat but just as a prank.
He has been in Melbourne for three years alone and hopes with another year s experience in management to be able to return home and get a job in India.
Speaking of returning home, Daniel Nestor should be there now after leaving here on Monday. He and Katarina Srebotnik were worthy winners of the mixed doubles. They were the class of the field and it is too bad they can t play together again because Nenad Zimonjic is her regular partner. But still, the mixed if a goofy event, with lots of factors involved including how well the partners are doing in the regular doubles. Sometimes crowded scheduling near the end can make it less appealing to be in both events.
BTW Daniel apparently still does not have a SuperBowl ticket to see his beloved Steelers on Sunday. You d think the Steelers organization given that Daniel is one of Canada s best known athletes and gets them tons of free publicity could come up with a ducat or two just in a public relations move.
I mentioned a few days ago that I would give an account of my two weeks of doing predictions for the AustralianOpen.com website under, SLAM DUNK SELECTIONS or at least my best shot.
First off let me say that I came to Australia right after Christmas and I had three preliminary theories two were wrong. 1. Djokovic would be still on a high after winning the Davis Cup with his Serbian mates in December and would inevitably suffer a letdown here and not be a factor. 2. Caroline Wozniacki had looked good in losing the WTA Tour Championships final to Clijsters last November and I thought she might now be ready to go a step further and win a Grand Slam.
3. I had a feeling Federer would not win because everything just went too well for him at the end of 2010, and winning in Dona the first week of 2011. That he would somehow slip up. At least I got that one right.
That actually led to the pick I was most pleased with Djokovic to beat him in the semi-finals. I d planned on making that one from the very beginning of the tournament, especially after Federer struggled in a five-set win over Gilles Simon in the second round. I had seen Djokovic play in Perth in Hopman Cup on television, and had a British friend there who confirmed how immaculate his form was. I was convinced he d gone up a notch, actually feeding on the Davis Cup success. I felt Federer s three wins over him last fall didn t mean as much as Djokovic s victory in the US Open semi-finals.
So, I got that one right. Here are two wrongs to make up for that right. This is outrageous, but I picked Nicolas Almagro to beat Djokovic in the round-of-16. Here s my reasoning I d seen Djokovic interviewed after he got a retirement after one set of his third-round match against compatriot Victor Troicki. He was dripping sweat and looked tired. I knew it was supposed to be reasonably hot the day when Djokovic played Almagro (a not-so mentally tough but talented Spaniard) and just took a chance he might suffer in the heat. Everyone knows there s something going on in the heat with Djokovic. Also, you have to take a few chances in making the picks to be entertaining, no one is interested if you just always take the favourite. On the totally off-chance that Djokovic suffered in the heat and lost, I would look like Mr. Genius. Didn t happen Djokovic won 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.
So I regret that pick, even though there was some reasoning behind it. The other one was a seeded woman who was playing another lower-seeded player but was the underdog. The day before the match I was walking in a corridor that sort of merged with another. As they did this player, whom I do not know, was suddenly beside me and smiled and said hello. That was enough for me to switch my pick to her. I figured I d never forgive myself if I ignored this omen and she ended up winning. No such luck, she lost 6-3, 6-3.
I was busy working, so I didn t live and die with each of my picks. You can t take yourself too seriously. I had Hewitt to beat Nalbandian and he had two match points before losing a brutal five-setter. On the other hand, I got lucky with Li to beat Woziacki. She did after saving a match point in the second set when all looked bleak.
No. 1 thing I learned from doing the predictions never read the comments, remain true to yourself and your picks.
Finally, here s a story from the final day of the tournament last Sunday. I m on a tram on Swan Street, in an unpretentious but charming commercial area near Melbourne Park.
In a space between commercial properties, there was a youngish man and a woman sitting in chairs behind three-foot high cardboard box with the following written on it:
I had to check that out. So I got off the tram and doubled back and found the guy a bit of a laid-back, cool, good-looking type in a light blue summer suit and a smallish straw hat and the woman, who as quite leggy and quite attractive.
I decided that my question would be, what are the five most interesting questions you ve been asked so far.
Before going further, I should add that I learned that the guy and the girl had not known each other until she passed by and asked a question.
So, I asked my question about the five interesting questions. He had only been there an hour and half and business was not that brisk.
The first question was the one the young woman had originally asked him, what question should I ask? His response had been, where did you get that suit?
Fine. So here are, sometimes in consultation with her, what he thought were the best questions.
Question No. 2: Will I be rich? The answer man explained that he had a discussion with the questioner about what actually qualified as rich. Finally they came up with having your house be mortgage free and being able to send your two kids through private school. His answer, yes.
Question No. 3: A woman asked, what s the name of the guy I m going to marry? The answer man said, first one will be James, the second Stephen.
Question No. 4: Is it worth it? The answer man s response, yes.
And Question No. 5: Do you have a lighter? The answer man replied, saying that he had made sure to have the $1 in hand first, no, I don t smoke.
Just as he gave the final answer, two other people approached and distracted the woman beside him momentarily.
I knew my quota of questions was up, but I couldn t resist. As the woman talked to the other people, I said to the answer man, where are you two going to be later tonight?
He raised his finger indicating that he knew exactly what I was thinking, smiled with a twinkle in his eye and said, I like that one.
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