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Seen and Heard: Sharapova's breakfast

6/25/2010

• Talk about funny.

In Thursday's on-court presentation to John Isner and Nicolas Mahut after their history maker on Court 18, the emcee introduced Ann Jones as a former Wimbledon champion. When it came to Tim Henman, there was no big buildup.

The hardened hacks in the press center laughed, and the emcee, perhaps telepathically picking up on it, then quickly mentioned he was a longtime ... domestic No. 1.

He's still having a tough time at Wimbledon.

At least one official hovering around the referees' office wasn't happy with the postmatch pomp because Jones, the 1969 winner, wore heels and thus cut up part of the turf.

• What's the breakfast of champions?

For Maria Sharapova, it's eggs Benedict, according to an employee at a cafe in the Wimbledon village.

Robin Soderling is looking good.

The Swede hasn't dropped a set through two rounds, avenging a defeat to Marcel Granollers at the Australian Open by crushing the lanky Spaniard on Thursday.

Soderling didn't play a grass-court tune-up after reaching a second consecutive French Open final, wanting to recharge, coach Magnus Norman told us. His right knee was also tender.

That said, Soderling feels fresher than last year, and there's still plenty of upside to his game, Norman suggests.

"He's still got potential," Norman said. "That's the good part about him. He can improve his volley and he can mix up his serve. But he's made a huge step the last 1.5 years."

Soderling and his conqueror at the French, Rafael Nadal, are on a collision course in the quarterfinals. If they square off, Norman likes Soderling's chances.

"I think Rafa doesn't move as well on grass as he does on clay," Norman said. "Robin has a big serve, so I feel like in a potential matchup Robin has a better chance on grass than on clay."

• The curse of the French Open finalists, at least among the women, struck at Wimbledon. Champ Francesca Schiavone and runner-up Samantha Stosur exited in the opening round.

Although Schiavone's departure wasn't really a surprise, most expected Stosur to, at worst, win a few rounds, despite her mediocre record at SW19. The huge serve and net game are pluses.

Stosur reached the semis in Eastbourne last week.

"But even in Eastbourne, she wasn't thriving on the challenge," said her coach, David Taylor. "She was laboring. You have to come here like Nadal and have the greatest attitude from the first ball to hit on the grass, thinking, 'I got a short time frame.'"

Was it a hangover?

"No. She's pretty professional and goes about her business well," Taylor said. "I think John McEnroe -- we were all sitting on the grass the other day -- he's a bit of a fan of Sam's. He hasn't got over losing the French final, and maybe it's something you never get over. I think you just learn from it, and if Sam gets another chance, maybe she'll be better for it."

• The World Cup in South Africa has mostly been a huge success.

Even though he's more than 5,000 miles away, busy playing doubles, Wesley Moodie couldn't be more proud.

"My parents and wife are with me now," said Moodie, a native of Durban. "The extended family and friends are there, having a great time and feeling very patriotic and proud of South Africa."

Moodie, who teamed with Stephen Huss to win the Wimbledon doubles title in 2005, caught South Africa's 2-1 victory over France on Tuesday.

South Africa, not given much of a chance when the tournament began, only failed to advance on goal difference.

"I think I missed the first 20 minutes," he said. "I was on my phone. It was very exciting. I actually don't want too much football, but I was on the edge of my seat shouting. I thought we had it done for a while."

• Talent-wise, Xavier Malisse is up there.

The Belgian is finally back in form heading into his clash against Sam Querrey in the third round Saturday. Malisse reached the quarterfinals at the AEGON Championships -- Querrey took him out -- and backed it up with a semifinal appearance at the UNICEF Open.

His ranking of 63rd is almost a two-year high.

"I've put in a lot of work and practice," Malisse said after practice. "Hard work pays off. Once you get confidence and win a couple of matches, it can help quickly. I've always liked the grass. It's a good surface for me. It's the best tennis I've played for a long, long time."

Malisse, who beat the likes of Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Greg Rusedski and Richard Krajicek en route to the Wimbledon semis in 2002, is looking to get back.

"It'll be a big match for me because to get to the last 16 is always a nice thing," Malisse said. "I'm really looking forward to it. It would be nice if I can get a little revenge for Queen's. Sam's a nice guy and playing well. I hope it's going to be a good match."

• For a junior, getting the opportunity to mingle with a pro is invaluable. Imagine Liam Broady's delight when he traded balls with Nadal on Friday.

Broady, a 16-year-old left-hander from northern England, took part in a practice session with Feliciano Lopez before moving on to Nadal. He'd already hit with McEnroe this fortnight.

Broady's management company, IMG, set up the rendezvous.

"I got a message this morning, asking I wanted to hit with Rafa," Broady said. "It was perfect really to wake up and get that message."

Broady got another wake-up call, as it turned out.

"Usually I think in practice I'm a bit unfocused, a bit everywhere, having a laugh," Broady said. "But with him, he laughs before he goes on. But once he goes on court he's a machine. His aggression toward the ball and his work rate are just on a different planet."