An Australia Day sporting smorgasbord

David Lord Columnist

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    The television remote went into overdrive on Australia Day as firstly Venus Williams, then David Warner, Travis Head and Serena Williams filled the daylight hours with sensational world-class performances.

    A quick snack and the already hot remote was in action again last night, with performances from Roger Federer and Mitchell Starc.

    Let’s salute Venus first as the 36-year-old added the women’s tennis longevity record to her trophy shelf.

    By dismantling the hard-hitting Coco Vandeweghe in three sets, Venus has reached a Slam final over a 19-year, three-month period, to own the longevity record for women’s tennis.

    Venus’ first Slam final was the 1997 US Open when she lost to Martina Hingis 6-0 6-4.

    Tomorrow will be her 15th Slam final with seven wins so far, and seven losses.

    Venus Williams of the United States acknowledges the crowd

    While Venus was strutting her stuff, Australian opening batsmen Warner and Head were giving the Pakistan attack plenty of curry in Adelaide, setting an Australian all-time ODI record for any wicket of 284, beating the previous record of 260 held by Warner and Steve Smith.

    Warner’s 179 was his highest ODI score, and with five ODI digs of over 150, he equalled Sachin Tendulkar’s career record.

    Head on his home ground wasn’t going to be left out of the individual record spree, with his 128 a career-first ODI ton, well and truly eclipsing his previous best of four digs in the 50s.

    Then it was time to tune into Serena, demolishing Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2 6-1 to set up a ninth time Slam final confrontation with her big sister.

    Venus hasn’t been in a Slam decider since the 2009 Wimbledon when she lost in straight sets to Serena.

    Serena’s last Slam final was the Wimbledon 2016, beating Angelique Kerber 7-5 6-3.

    As reported, Venus has played in 14 Slam finals for a 7-7 result, Serena in 28 finals for 22-6 as she zeros in on Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24.

    Then it was time for Roger Federer’s clash with compatriot Stan Wawrinka. Fed looked home and hosed as he took the first two sets 7-5 6-3, until Wawrinka left the court for medical treatment.

    He returned with his right knee tightly strapped to find a vastly different Federer. He went on to win the next two sets 6-1 6-4 before Federer snapped out of his lethargy to take the decider 6-3.


    Federer hasn’t been in a Slam final since the 2015 US Open, when he lost in four to Novak Djokovic.

    Overall, Federer has been in 27 Slam finals for a 17-10 result, still the world record holder for men.

    So it’s time to update the extraordinary records of the top four in longevity.

    Showing the way is Ken Rosewall, now 82, who chalked up 21 years and eight months between his first Slam final and his last.

    Venus has taken second spot on 19 years three months, between her first and tomorrow’s decider.

    That leaves Serena with 17 years three months, with Roger Federer next on 13 years and five months – a tribute to not only their extraordinary ability, but their passion and dedication to maintain an elite standard for so long.

    And that leaves paceman Mitchell Starc, recently awarded the Australian Test Player of the Year award.

    Last night he was the ODI destroyer with 4-42 for Australia to beat Pakistan by 57 runs and take the five-game series 4-1.

    And a fitting finale to an Australia Day sporting smorgasbord was David Warner taking out the man of the match, and Man of the Series awards.

    It was a day and night of world-class sport. A special thanks to the television remote inventor.