Open sea­son

Jim Courier is Down Un­der for our grand slam, but he has other things on his mind

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - COLIN VICK­ERY re­ports

IT is a clear but brisk 14C in Or­lando, Florida, and Jim Courier is equal parts ex­cited and ner­vous.

That is be­cause at the time we con­ducted this in­ter­view, the 44- year- old Amer­i­can ten­nis legend was set to be­come a fa­ther, with wife Su­sanna due to give birth within days.

Courier is a for­mer World No. 1 with four Grand Slam ti­tles to his credit, but those past achieve­ments will pale against the joy of be­ing a fi rst- time dad.

By the time Courier trav­els Down Un­der to com­men­tate at the Aus­tralian Open for SCT, he will have started a whole new phase of his life.

“We’re ex­pect­ing a child any day now,” Courier says. “I imag­ine my feel­ings are ex­actly the same as any other fa­ther- to- be which is ev­ery­thing from ex­cite­ment to trep­i­da­tion – the whole gamut [ of emo­tions].

“It [ be­ing a fa­ther] won’t even com­pare [ to win­ning a Grand Slam].”

Aus­tralia has a spe­cial place in Courier’s heart. It is where he won two of those four Grand Slams.

When Courier de­feated Ste­fan Ed­berg to win the 1992 Aus­tralian Open, he made head­lines by jumping into the murky Yarra River.

Aussie fans warmed to Courier’s laid back charm from the start and that love aff air has con­tin­ued after his re­tire­ment from play­ing.

Courier’s ex­pert com­ments and post- match in­ter­views have been a high­light of SCT’s tele­cast for a decade.

For Courier, the Aus­tralian Open has be­come a fam­ily aff air. “We love Aus­tralia,” Courier says. “Su­sanna was there last year. She brought her mother down. My fa­ther came down last year as well. They had a great time.

“Su­sanna won’t be there this year be­cause we’re ex­pect­ing a child.

“I ex­pect in 2016 we’ll have a brood down in Mel­bourne.”

The Aus­tralian Open is a chance for the world’s top ten­nis play­ers to make a fresh start and Courier can’t wait to see how the tour­na­ment plays out.

“Based on form com­ing out of the end of 2014, No­vak Djokovic has as­serted him­self as the man to beat,” Courier says. “He has played so well in Aus­tralia, so I ex­pect him to be favourite.

“Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro are both com­ing off an in­jury- rid­dled 2014. Will they be back to full speed?

“With Roger Fed­erer it is a case of how long can he keep play­ing at the level we have grown ac­cus­tomed to.

“On the women’s side, Li Na, the de­fend­ing cham­pion, is not com­ing back.

“Serena Wil­liams, will she be able to re­gain the crown? She is al­ways a favourite when she is healthy.

“There are a lot of great sto­ry­lines for us to follow. It is al­ways in­ter­est­ing at the be­gin­ning of the year where ev­ery­one is hope­ful.”

Courier has kept busy since his re­tire­ment in 2000. He cap­tains the USA Davis Cup team and plays in the Pow­erShares Se­ries against for­mer greats in­clud­ing John McEnroe and An­dre Agassi.

Courier’s events company In­sid­e­Out Sport was re­cently ac­quired by Hori­zon Me­dia. He founded the non- profi t Courier’s Kids to support in­ner- city ten­nis pro­grams.

Com­men­tary du­ties for SCT, Bri­tain’s ITV and a range of US TV net­works fi ll in the gaps.

“It beats hav­ing a real job as far as I can tell,” Courier laughs. “I have been lucky enough to follow a pas­sion and turn it into a ca­reer.

“Fed­erer is the eas­i­est player to in­ter­view be­cause he’s so talk­a­tive, he’s so open.

“I want to give the play­ers a chance to showcase their per­son­al­i­ties.

“I love to come down to Mel­bourne and talk a lit­tle ten­nis.”

THE AUS­TRALIAN OPEN

STARTS 10AM MON­DAY, SCT

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