- Australian Open 2003 - Serving it up in Melbourne
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Wednesday, January 14
Serving it up in Melbourne

No. 4 seed Juan Carlos Ferrero gives his racket a twirl during his opening-round match against Franco Squillari. Ferrero won 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

• One of the hottest players on tour, No. 11 Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand, is adjusting to the attention he's getting after his breakthrough year in 2002.

"After I won Stockholm it's a big change when I go back home," he said. "A lot of people recognize me. They always ask for my autograph. Normally I go to the mall and it would be no problem. Nobody going to stop me for an autograph. But now it's like everybody was coming to me and asking for an autograph, even asking me to talk on the phone with their family. Which is great. They're proud for me that I'm doing well and they respect me a lot."

• Venus Williams is trying her hand at home decorating.

"I'm best at tennis ... but I'm also very good at decorating and design,'' Williams said after her 6-4, 6-2 victory over Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova.

"Most people, you know, if they do call my office, if they're confident enough to call, they have to give myself and my company enough trust that I can do their home, that I can be able to make their dreams come true in their home.''

Asked if people also sought her autograph, she added: "Sure, they're hopefully excited about my play and my accomplishments in tennis. But other than that, I'm also serious about the design.''

Hot Stuff
Since the days when Ivan Lendl wore foreign legion-style caps to help counter the harsh effects of the Australian summer, concerns about extreme heat have been a fixture during the year's first Grand Slam tournament.

But fears that the temperature could hit 98 on Monday failed to materialize, with a maximum reading of 90.

Sweltering conditions are forecast for later in the week, but wind seemed to be more of a concern for players.

"It wasn't too hot. It was a bit breezy. The breeze played a bit more havoc on the match than heat,'' Andre Agassi said after his opening-round victory.

Venus Williams also wasn't too worried.

"I feel as long as I have a hat, I'm fine,'' Williams said. "Without a hat, it can be pretty brutal.''

Problems with heat in past years have led to a tightening of the tournament's extreme heat policy.

Matches in progress will be completed, but no new matches will start when the temperature reaches 95 -- a reduction from 100 last year -- and when a heat stress measure known as the wet bulb globe temperature reaches 28. Both must occur simultaneously.

The wet bulb globe temperature is a combination of air temperature, humidity, intensity of solar radiation and wind speed.

Down Under Details
Aussie drought: Of the four Grand Slam tournaments, only Wimbledon has gone longer than the Australian Open without a citizen of the home country winning the men's title.

Fred Perry was the last British man to win Wimbledon, in 1936. The last Australian to win the Australian Open was Mark Edmondson in 1976. Pat Cash was a finalist in 1987 and 1988.

The U.S. Open is completely up to date -- Pete Sampras won in 2002. France's Yannick Noah won the French Open in 1983.

Longevity list: Amy Frazier will be appearing in her 56th Grand Slam tournament in the Australian Open starting Monday, and Conchita Martinez in her 53rd.

Martinez won Wimbledon in 1994 and was runner-up in Australia in 1998 and France in 2000. Last year, her top finish at a major was reaching the third round at Wimbledon.

On the men's side, Andre Agassi and Wayne Ferreira are appearing in their 50th.

Agassi has won seven majors, including Australia in 1995, 2000 and 2001.

Ferreira's best was reaching the Australian semifinals in 1992, but he has not missed a Grand Slam since the 1990 U.S. Open and stands second in consecutive appearances with 49. Stefan Edberg played in 54 consecutive majors, ending with the 1996 U.S. Open.

Among active male players, Michael Chang, with 55, and Pete Sampras, with 52, have the most Grand Slam appearances, and Sampras is a 14-time winner. Both are skipping the Australian Open.

On family life:
"I think it gives me the opportunity to rest my mind in some pretty special ways. Whether you've had a good day or bad day doesn't really matter when you see your little boy.''
On how his life changed after being runner-up:
"Before Wimbledon, nobody knew me. After, everybody watches me."
On struggling in the opening round:
"I think it was a little bit of the nerves. I had never lost in the first round of a Grand Slam.''

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