In professional sports, “sportsmanship” can be a hard thing to come by. The stakes are high, and that often means emotions are too. Certainly this year’s Aussie Open hasn’t been immune to bad sportsmanship either, what with Stefanos Tsitsipas’ rant on Friday, the Aussie fans cheering a Lucas Pouille double fault last night, or just Yulia Putintseva doing, well… Yulia Putintseva things. So hats off to Elina Svitolina and Serena Williams.
Showing exceptional grace in the aftermath of their third-round victories, Svitolina made sure to check on an exhausted Zhang Shuai while providing one of her drinks and a few friendly words, while Serena was quick to share a few kind words of her own with a visibly upset Dayana Yastremska.
They may be only small gestures in the grand scheme of things, but you can guarantee neither Shuai or Yastremska will forget them any time soon, and nor should we. Serena and Svitolina could’ve easily just shook hands and kept it moving, but instead they took the time to lift the spirit of their fallen opponents, and that’s the definition of winning with class.
Now, if only Serena hadn’t had that, er… other episode at the US Open… Still, I’m calling this progress!
Here’s your three to see on middle Sunday in Melbourne:
Petra Kvitova (CZE)  v Amanda Anisimova (USA) – First on Rod Laver Arena (11:00am start)
Seventeen years old, already in her first major fourth rounder, and facing off against the one top-ten player she knows she can beat, suffice to say that for Amanda Anisimova everything is coming up Milhouse. Indeed, Petra Kvitova might actually be the more concerned party here, as Anisimova absolutely rolled her in a 6-2, 6-4 affair last year in Indian Wells as a 16-year-old, and if the Czech wants to turn the tables, she’ll have to do a much better job getting depth on her own forehand, while trying to hit away from the young American’s massive backhand as much as possible. That said, it might be unfair to expect a similar performance from Anisimova given the sudden weight of expectation placed upon her virtually overnight, but if she does manage to keep her focus, there really isn’t a result that would be surprising.
Frances Tiafoe (USA) v Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)  – Second on Melbourne Arena (Not before 1:00pm)
A match Frances Tiafoe is as desperate to win as Grigor Dimitrov is as desperate not to lose, the stakes alone make this a match worth watching. Seeking a first career major quarterfinal, the stakes a relatively straightforward for the 20-year-old Tiafoe, while Dimitrov needs the victory just to keep his ranking remotely respectable, with none of his other recent major results being better than a third-round exit. With so much to play for, hopefully that brings out the same level of hard-fought tennis we saw last year in their matches in Toronto and at the Laver Cup – if so, you might be forgiven for forgetting the stakes, just enjoy them trying to out-slog each other with two radically different takes on the modern topspin forehand.
Roger Federer (SUI)  v Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)  – First Match, Night Session on Rod Laver (7:00pm start)
Already the stars of one cracking encounter this Aussie summer at the Hopman Cup, what are the odds Roger Federer and Stefanos Tsitsipas can play another one here? Of course, normally you wouldn’t put too much stock in an exhibition, but that 7-6, 7-6 victory for Federer was exceptionally well-played, full of attacking, all-court tennis from both players, with about as many net approaches as you’ll ever see off-grass. It’s not unreasonable to expect more of the same here, and while Federer’s ability to get the occasional good look at a Tsitsipas second-serve proved the difference, the latter should look to keep playing a very high-pressure game, which could just as easily garner a breakthrough before the Swiss dismantles him. Either way, this is one you certainly can’t afford to miss.