ESPN’s Gilbert, Shriver Preview Australian Open, Discuss Djokovic Saga

Tennis

ESPN’s Gilbert, Shriver Preview Australian Open, Discuss Djokovic Saga

  • Topics: All Things Djokovic, Osaka’s Chances to Defend, Wide-Open Women’s Field, Keys to Nadal’s Success, Murray Back from the Brink and Peng Shuai
  • ESPN’s Exclusive First Ball to Last Ball Live Coverage Begins Sunday, Jan. 16 

ESPN tennis analysts Brad Gilbert and Pam Shriver spoke with media today, previewing the Australian Open and discussing issues in the sport including the current situation involving Novak Djokovic and the status of his visa to stay in Australia.  ESPN’s exclusive first ball to last ball coverage – all courts, all matches, all days across platforms – begins Sunday, Jan. 16.  Here is the transcript.  

Q- I’m going to go against the grain, not ask about Djoker to start because I know we’ll get to him. Plus I still think it’s a coin flip if he’s even in it, so I don’t see the point of drilling deep. But Osaka is my primary interest. On a kind of mental health emotional level, the last I recall hearing from her was she had basically lost all joy in winning and felt only relief if she didn’t lose. I’ve got that wrong, but I’m sure you remember. And then I understand she withdrew from the tune-up with an abdominal injury. What do you think is realistic for her, assuming she can go on and compete at the Australian Open, from what you know of abdominal injuries and what you sense about her state of enthusiasm for playing again, competing again?  

PAM SHRIVER: Well, first off, we’re talking her favorite surface, a hard court. Any time you can show up at a place where you’ve won a couple times before, I’m talking the Australian Open, on a surface that’s your number one surface by miles, she has to be talked about as a contender in this era of women’s tennis, for sure. Barty is an established No. 1 and she’s playing in her home country, but Osaka certainly has to be in your group.  

I feel like she’s had enough of a pause from that disaster of a loss to Fernandez that started Fernandez’ roll through to the finals when Osaka had the meltdown and just said what you paraphrased, I think she’s had a long enough time to reset, this many months.  

While I don’t think she’s in the same condition that she was when she was winning her two US Opens and even a year ago, she’s not in the same shape, she can, like Serena, I think, over a course of two weeks, she can play her way into better shape.  

Not the same confidence as say a year ago, but I’d give her a chance.  

BRAD GILBERT: A couple things. One, she obviously prefers hard courts tenfold. The stomach issue for a tennis player can be of big concern because there’s not one shot, potentially if she has tweaked it, that you can fudge around having an abdominal injury.  

If she’s okay, 70, 80 percent, it’s like two tournaments. If she can get — we don’t know where she’s going to be in the draw. She’s going to be seeded low. But if she can get through the first week, the courts are apparently playing incredibly quick, which will benefit the way she plays. If she can get through the first week, listen, I’d put her — I’d say there’s 10 to 15 that can win this tournament, but she’s probably in the upper three to four because of the surface and it being quick.  

But that whole first week for her is crucial and just kind of getting that confidence, and she’s had time away, but if she can win three matches in that first week, she could be in position for the second week.  

PAM SHRIVER: Just quickly on what Brad said, remember, when she gets to the quarterfinals, she’s four for four winning, so more than anybody the first week is crucial.  

Q- First question is Novak’s legacy, could this have like a Margaret Court type impact on his legacy? Let’s say he and Rafa finished with the same number of Slams. Are people going to give Rafa a gonod just because he didn’t have these kind of controversies? And the second question is how does Novak sustain life unvaxed on the tour? Is it sustainable? Is it possible? Is it workable? What’s his future if he doesn’t get vaxed?  

BRAD GILBERT: I mean, it’s a good question. Obviously we’re going to find out over the next period of time how this is going to affect him. I mean, it’s not just Novak. I mean, COVID two years on is showing no signs of slowing up, and the question that you’re asking is a very solid question: How are you going to sustain on tour.  

I think there’s going to be numerous countries if Novak chooses or any player chooses to be unvaccinated. I’m not sure how he’s going to get into the States potentially to play Indian Wells, Miami, how is he going to get into Canada. I’m not sure every country, if you’re not — has medical exemptions and an exemption for COVID. There might be some for an irregular heartbeat, but it’s going to be a very difficult proposition to be a full-time player being unvaccinated.  

That can be your choice, but to travel and do things that you enjoyed before COVID, the freedoms that you had, it’s not about having money or not having money; I don’t believe that you will have anywhere near the same luxuries.  

Right now in Melbourne, you can’t get into a restaurant anywhere being unvaccinated. You have to show your vaccination card. It’s the same in a lot of places.  

I think those normal liberties that you had and you expect to have, you won’t have anymore. I think traveling the tour being unvaccinated, maybe you’ll only be able to play a few tournaments in 2022, and maybe by 2023 you won’t be able to play any tournaments.  

PAM SHRIVER: If I can just tag on about his legacy, I think, first off, as Liz Clark mentioned at the beginning, there’s still probably going to be a shoe to drop as some investigations are going on as it relates to Novak’s supposed positive COVID test the middle of December and the events in the days after that that were public events where he shared space with people that he didn’t disclose, he wasn’t wearing a mask, he should have been isolating.  

So I think depending on what happens with the Australian government, if the minister pulls the ultimate card of revoking his visa based on other facts that they’ve now had more time to investigate, that would be a big blow because that would be more of a blow to his integrity.  

Obviously he already has one of the most controversial moments in tennis history when 15 months ago, 16 months ago, didn’t intend to but he let loose with a ball in anger and it hit the linesman in the throat and he was defaulted immediately — well, three, four minutes after a discussion, but it was imminent, from a major. He’s already kind of had enough moments and enough question marks to definitely tarnish his legacy, but certainly nothing will ever tarnish his record, his 20 majors and counting, his weeks at No. 1, that he’s won all of the Masters Series at least once, I think maybe even twice.  

So there’s that part that remains, but he’s not the only athlete that has tarnished legacy with a tremendous all-time great record.  

BRAD GILBERT: Just to tag on, if you’d have asked me six months ago or nine months ago, even at the Open, I thought he was well on his way to smashing the men’s record. I actually thought that he would end up passing Margaret Court. I thought he might be 25 to 27 majors.  

But I think forgetting about his legacy, I do think that if he chooses to be unvaccinated, I think there will be numerous tournaments and other majors he will no longer be able to participate if he chooses to stay unvaccinated.  

PAM SHRIVER: One last thing. I think to compare the Margaret Court situation to this is not cool because I feel like it’s very, very different what we’re dealing with with Margaret Court. I understand it upended her legacy as a tennis player, so I get that part.  

Q- I just mean in terms of polarizing issues that fans are going to take sides. People get entrenched, that’s all. Definitely different.  

PAM SHRIVER: That’s a fair point.  

Q- I have two questions about our Canadian players.First of all, on the men’s side, having just won the ATP Cup, where do you see Denis and Felix carrying that momentum into the first major of the season and maybe taking the final step in a Grand Slam as they both did in the semifinals last year? And then on the women’s side, Fernandez just made kind of a surprise appearance in the final of the US Open. What will be the challenges for her in this next journey that everyone knows where she is?  

BRAD GILBERT: I’ll start with it. Denis and Felix, both incredibly talented, but both of them struggle with week-to-week consistencies. Like Denis will have a good tournament, then he’ll post some poor results. After Wimbledon, he got to the semis last year, the rest of the year he really struggled. Then he comes on strong at ATP Cup.  

I do think he switched coaches, has a new coach now, I saw that Jamie Delgado is working with him. I just think for him it’s about consistency, and it’s the same for Felix.  

The upside is unbelievable, but it’s learning to be — to win matches when you’re at 70 percent, 60 percent. That’s maybe the difference for both of them, making that next step in transition into getting in the Top 5.  

I also think for Felix, it’s crucial this year, and crucial very soon. He needs to win an ATP event. He’s been in so many finals, yet to win one, and I know it’s happened before somebody has won something big, but I think for him this year, I think a big step forward would be to win two, three tournaments, and for one of them to make the tour finals, make Italy.  

I’m going to be really fascinated to see how Fernandez backs up what she did at the Open because I expect that she’s going to move up in the rankings. I have the feeling that her game is going to translate well to a lot of different surfaces, especially in Australia if it plays quick. She takes the ball on.  

I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in the top 10 this year.  

PAM SHRIVER: Just a couple of other observations. First off, great that Felix and Denis are born now — when I say now, that they’re at the age they are now because this is the generation that at least is going to have a lot more chances to win majors in the coming 10 years than what the last 15 years has been like. The men have just — except for the three, plus Murray and Wawrinka, there’s just been a couple of single wins like Del Potro and Cilic. They’re in the right era. I feel like Canada has done a lot of things really well up there to develop multiple talents in a country that prior to the last five, ten years wasn’t known as a tennis nation, but it is now.  

So they’re pushing each other, which is good.  

I happen to think Felix has a little bit more of an upside if the serve can continue to improve. I kind of like his professionalism. I think he has the ability to what Brad says, be more consistent week in and week out. Maybe Shapovalov’s high can be a little bit higher, but I feel like the ups and downs have been a little disturbing for me, too, and not seeing the consistency.  

Leylah Fernandez, I think the fact she didn’t win the US Open is going to help her in 2022. I think what we’re seeing from Raducanu is totally understandable. When I played my first US Open at 16, got to the finals, I won like three matches the next 12 months. I just couldn’t — I had this higher profile, and I wasn’t ready. It was way too soon.  

But Fernandez is older, and I think she’s proven that she can win those big matches, but nobody, hardly anybody in women’s tennis recently has really been able to back up a result with good results right away, so it may still take some time.  

BRAD GILBERT: The We the North got something to look forward to Down Under. They’ve got some young players that are in the mix.  

PAM SHRIVER: And boy, is it more fun to cover when you’ve got home interest in these majors.  

Q- What are you expecting from Osaka? Is her game the one to beat on hard courts? Do you have anything more to add, either of you, or do you think we’ve covered it? 

PAM SHRIVER: I think we’ve pretty much covered it with Liz’s question, but do you have anything more to add?  

BRAD GILBERT: What I said before, I think it’s just so crucial for her, how good she is at the end of these Slams, but it’s getting through that first week, and then hopefully this ab injury is nothing.  

It looked like the matches that I saw that she played, she looked like what had happened in New York. Hopefully it was behind her. So it was much more about her tennis, so that’s why I’m saying that first week for her is really crucial and where she falls in the draw because her seeding has dropped.  

PAM SHRIVER: The other thing I’ll add is she does have a history of a couple of other times doing this where she gets enough matches in — she had hardly played, so I imagine she was sore, and as I mentioned she’s not in quite as good a shape as she was when she was winning her four hard court titles. For her to withdraw either during a tournament or the week before a major, she’s done that before and then won the next major.  

The other thing I’ll say that’s really crucial and kind of ties in, the abdominal injury needs to not take away that service weapon. When she’s playing her best she’s got three big huge weapons, the two ground strokes and the serve. If the serve is setting up the ground strokes, then she’s tough to beat on a hard court. So I’m especially keying on the serve for her to win her fifth.  

BRAD GILBERT: Would you say when she’s on now does she have the biggest serve in the women’s game now?  

PAM SHRIVER: Yeah, she’s generally, when she’s on and hitting it big, it’s in the low 120s.  

Q- About Andy Murray, is it hard to believe this guy was congratulated for a great career and sent off into retirement a few years ago in Australia, compared to how he’s playing now? 

PAM SHRIVER: You and I, I think, covered that match.  

BRAD GILBERT: We covered that match against Bautista Agut. It was late at night, and they put up the montage on the video board, and we were both thinking, he’s only 31. But amazingly, obviously he had the hip procedure, he’s battled some different injuries, and now three years later he’s back in Australia.  

I saw a couple of days ago his big goal if it’s possible is to get to 50 ATP titles. He switched racquets now, got a bigger racquet, I think, so I think he for the first time is starting to believe that maybe this metal hip is okay, and I think that he’s motivated.  

I wasn’t sure that we’d ever see him again after that match in Australia because he sounded like a broken man then that he didn’t think his hip could be fixed. But obviously he’s got a new renewed attitude since these procedures — I think he had a few of them. But he’s feeling a lot better.  

Now it’s about him getting some confidence and winning some of these matches because he’s been playing a lot of tournaments, getting a lot of wild cards. He’s in the quarters now this week of Sydney.  

I think he’s probably starting to think more about goals and winning again as opposed to not being hurt and getting back on the courts.  

PAM SHRIVER: I don’t know if anyone loves the sport more than Andy Murray. To go through what he went through with the pain and tried to play that match against Bautista down two sets to love, then won the next two sets and didn’t have enough in the fifth, and I think a lot of us thought we wouldn’t see him again on the singles court because this is uncharted territory. While one of the Bryan twins had that metal hip part put in, singles, three out of five at majors.  

I was lucky enough this fall I got to call some of these matches like the one against Francis Tiafoe. He brings so much to the court. He brings so much off the court with his sort of humanity and his interest in many topics, whether it’s equality for women or whether it’s for the ATP to step up and show more leadership when there was sexual abuse allegations or stories that went on at ATP tour tournaments and hotels.  

He’s not afraid to speak his mind. I feel like he has become a true leader, sort of like Venus Williams the last 10 years, where not only is his play respected but also his character and his values are very much respected.  

Q- I want to ask some questions about Peng Shuai, and that is I’ve never had the chance to ask either of you directly your feelings about the way the WTA leadership responded, and amid our short attention span world, and Novak is the story, do you see the Australian Open potentially as a place where she might be remembered and questions might still be asked about her well-being and safety?  

PAM SHRIVER: Well, I think if it’s going to come up, I think it’s going to come up from players, individual players in press conferences. I think the Australian Open has their hands full, and they also have branded themselves the last 15 years as the Grand Slam of the Asia Pacific region with really strong ties to China, and the WTA Tour, I just want to say, having been a past president, player on the tour for 19 years, I was able to play on the tour in the late ’70s when many of the original nine who signed that dollar contract to lead the establishment, to have women’s tennis start their own tour, there’s been a lot of brave decisions, whether you’re a Martina Navratilova and defected from your home country, and several of our greats of all time like Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova have been real leaders in the LGBTQ, that whole movement. Natasha Zvereva when she was still part of the Soviet Union that was breaking up, said I’m taking my prize money, leading off — basically told China I’m taking my prize money.  

I don’t know, women’s tennis has a history of being brave, whether as an individual or as an organization, and I think Steve Simon has played this exactly as it should be played, and I think the board made up of tournaments and players have backed him.  

Obviously to have some time because the circuit in China isn’t until after the US Open, and of course it can hurt financially, but how can you not do this when you’re a women’s organization and one of your own is unable to speak freely about sexual abuse allegations.  

I think the WTA has done a great job, and it’s been noticed throughout the world with our leadership.  

BRAD GILBERT: I applaud the WTA’s greatness and braveness because this is something that will gravely hurt them in the pocket because they have so many tournaments there, but what a great move of unity that this will not be allowed. Very disappointing on the ATP side to have not made a decision yet. I feel like they should have done the same, and if all of a sudden things haven’t gotten any better in China, those tournaments should be in Seoul, Korea, or Singapore. Move them somewhere else. Stay in the region, move somewhere else, until there’s resolution.  

But until Peng Shuai is in — somewhere else in Asia, she’s in Switzerland —  

PAM SHRIVER: Malibu, as your neighbor.  

BRAD GILBERT: Somewhere. Pat Cash was here training with one of the girls that he works with, a Chinese player. But no other Chinese player has spoken about the Peng Shuai situation because they probably know if they speak, they might not get to travel.  

This situation is not over by a long shot, and it’s still first and foremost how is Peng Shuai. That’s what we need to know.  

Until she can kind of speak freely, we still don’t know.  

Q- I wanted to ask about Rafa. He won the Melbourne, the tune-up, at the same time he’s short on match play but he looks fit. How do you assess Rafa? He’s been to a bunch of finals. The second question is Barty trying to end the Aussie drought, becoming the first Aussie since Chris O’Neill to win it. Do you think that’s more likely, or do you think as Dave said earlier with first-time champions like when Kenin won or Raducanu that we’ll see that trend, another first-time winner, or is it more likely that Barty will snap the Aussie streak? 

BRAD GILBERT: I’ll start with Rafa. Rafa looked great in Melbourne. This tournament obviously where he’s ranked, too, we’ve got to see where the draw is. In the last half a dozen years, he’s struggled physically at this tournament starting the year on hard courts. Fingers crossed that he has some good health and it’s just about his tennis.  

For him, too, it’s just about him getting his confidence after not playing basically the second half of the year, but there was some really encouraging signs from him getting better in each match in Melbourne and the ATP 250. So I’m sure Rafa fans are a little bit excited and to find out where he’s going to fall in the draw.  

Everything for me about Rafa is his health. If he stays healthy, he will get results because he does everything he can to put himself in the position to continue to succeed at the highest level.  

PAM SHRIVER: While Rafa would never, ever say this, his fans, his main fans would, which is they hope that the home minister of border control decides to pull the plug on Novak’s visa, because that would increase the chances of Rafa finally winning his second Australian Open. It’s kind of hard to believe that 20 majors he’s only been able to win this once, and Brad mentioned, referred to all the many times that physically he hasn’t been able to be at 100 percent in Australia.  

Yeah, I think his draw is important. I think, again, I know I mentioned the serve for Osaka, Rafa has got to have his fair share of free points. I think the serve has to go big kind of like when he’s won the US Open in the past. His serve has been a big weapon.  

I don’t think he’s served that well in Australia in the past, so that puts more pressure on him playing Rafa grinding tennis.  

As far as Ash Barty, I think she’s got a huge chance to win here, and unlike Sam Stosur who had won the US Open and who could not perform with any kind of any form, got so nervous, she doesn’t play in her home country’s Grand Slam. Ash Barty has the last few years won a lot of matches down there. She should have beaten Muchova last year in the quarters. Muchova took one of those illness breaks that kind of threw off Barty, not to use it as an excuse, but I thought she could have won last year, and she showed at Wimbledon the kind of pressure — to win Wimbledon as an Australian is almost as big as winning the Australian Open.  

So I think there’s a pretty good chance she’s playing the best tennis and I love the way she’s serving. At 5’6″ she’s the best server inch for inch on either tour.  

BRAD GILBERT: She might not even be 5’6″. It’s amazing how good she serves. I’ve got the feeling 10 to 15 to win it. I will put her as the favorite, but I’m going to say we are not going to have a first-time winner.  

If it’s not Barty, it’s somebody that’s won a major. I feel like we’re due for somebody — we’ve had quite a few of these players that win majors that it’s kind of affected them maybe before you thought they were going to win and they haven’t been able to back it up. But I’m expecting somebody that’s won a major to win this year’s Aussie Open.  

PAM SHRIVER: I’ll mention one of those players. Halep is playing great.  

BRAD GILBERT: Muguruza, somebody who has won majors. I’m kind of feeling like obviously there’s a lot of unexplained when we haven’t seen the draw, then you can kind of analyze it better. But I hope that we get somebody that’s won a major.  

It’s fun to see unexpected major winners, but every once in a while it’s nice to see some chalk.  

Q- If I could quickly follow up, if Novak does play, what would it mean to the TV audience globallyand also the fan base there in Melbourne? What kind of crowds would we see? And secondly, after the whole US Open default, on ESPN I remember John McEnroe said, certain fan bases are always going to see him as a villain now. Do you think after all this dust settles he’s going to try to clear the air and be transparent, try to win those people over, or do you think he’ll embrace it like I’m a renegade, like an Aaron Rodgers, this is the way I am, take it or leave it? Or do you think he’ll try to — he’s a guy that likes to connect with people. He’s a good communicator. How do you think he’ll approach it?  

PAM SHRIVER: Well, news is that like even the five days he spent in the detention hotel that he connected with some of the people who have been in there for long, long, long time and that Novak perhaps has made some commitments to help them with some legal defense, because let’s face it, the doubles player that was ceremoniously plucked out of the hotel pool and taken to the hotel to be deported, she didn’t have the funds or the wherewithal to get the legal team behind her that Novak did. I think Novak will try.  

I think he’s always been — actually he’s a pretty good humanitarian. He’s done a lot in Serbia. He’s done a lot for charities. He’s just sort of got this other side that has been polarizing.  

I mean, I think he will try to remain, but meantime we’re not quite sure how much he’s going to still need to repair because as we all know, there might be one more big shoe to drop.  

But I think the crowds, if he plays, it’s going to be like — I don’t know, like a home and away stadium all in one stadium because I think there’s going to be a ton of Serbians that are going to try and flood and buy tickets. The Novak crowd is going to try and drown out the boos of the Australian public that aren’t really for a non-vaccinated player depending on the stories they believe around his COVID test.  

So I think it could have one of the most crazy atmospheres in a major stadium, but we could also have a lot of empty seats because Australia for the first time they’re afraid of what’s going on with Omicron and they haven’t suffered through — they’ve kept it away until now, so a lot of people are afraid of going out in a crowd. So there’s a lot of unknowns.  

BRAD GILBERT: First and foremost, of all the tournaments that we go to, I’ve never been to Serbia and seen Novak play in Serbia other than on TV, but in Melbourne, Novak has the biggest fan base I’ve seen at any tournament.  

Later in the tournaments — I think sometimes after a semi and final, we’ve seen as many as 6,000, 7,000 Serbians on hand, singing, wearing country colors, everything. He has a massive following.  

Obviously this has become such a polarizing thing in Australia, whether or not he should play, whether or not he shouldn’t play, and hopefully the crowds will come back next week because in the warm-up tournaments, as Pam said, they were pretty panicked last year if they had a few hundred cases in Australia, and obviously their country was in devastating lock-downs for 18 months. They’re now having over 100,000 cases a day.  

Hopefully they will be able to come and get the crowds, but I don’t know how — I know how Novak’s fans will react to him, but I don’t know how the Australian fans and public will react to Novak if he’s allowed to play.  

PAM SHRIVER: But I can tell you as a network and covering it, we certainly hope that he’s in the draw because the story will lead the sports pages and will be a news story, not just a sports story.  

Q- What are your thoughts on the tournaments? Want to make some picks? 

BRAD GILBERT: I need to see the draw first. No picks until I see the draw.  

PAM SHRIVER: I’ll go with Barty on the women’s side even before seeing the draw, and on the men’s side we’ve got to see if Novak is in or not. I think the draw means more in a three-out-of-five-set format, and the women’s side has been unpredictable but I think Barty has got a chance.  

We’re entering 2022 and we’re entering a historic time in tennis with crazy things going on that leads the sports pages. I still say the fact that we’re entering a year with three men at 20 majors, the big questions for the year will be will Roger be able to get back physically, will Serena be able to get back physically, will Rafa maintain his health for the entire year, and what will Andy Murray’s hip allow in his comeback.  

I feel like the storylines entering the year are as historic in importance as any year we’ve ever had, and we enter it with this crazy situation with Novak, and I agree with Brad, how much will vaccine mandates that you must be vaccinated in countries, how much will that possibly derail his Grand Slam total.  

Q- Do you two want to make a pick? Will he play? 

PAM SHRIVER: If he’s allowed to, he will.  

BRAD GILBERT: He wants to play. Obviously he wants to play. If he didn’t want to play, he’d have gone home. But now if nothing changes, he will be playing on — I’m assuming his first match will be at night, whether it’s Monday night or Tuesday night.  

PAM SHRIVER: I would think they would give him — as the No. 1 player in he’s in, they will give him one extra day to prepare I would think. I bet he’s the Tuesday half.  

BRAD GILBERT: It usually goes by halves. He’ll be at the top of the draw being No. 1 seed, so he’ll be playing Tuesday night, but the only way that he’s not going to be playing is if something happens in the next 24, 48, 72 hours that they reverse the decision.  

Q- That’s what I was getting at. What do you think the government will say about him? 

PAM SHRIVER: Well, I thought — it’s been like a roller coaster with this whole thing, and I thought two days ago it looked like, okay, he’s going to play. But then I have some friends in — because I was married to an Australian and have a lot of friends down there, and now I feel like the government, based on more information they’re trying to uncover around the mid-December events and whether or not he — whether his agent checked off — you know what, if you lie on your visa, if you give not accurate information on a visa, you are responsible for your own visa. Okay, you’re an athlete and you delegate a lot. He’s No. 1 in the world, so someone else does it and he blames the agent, but let me tell you, at any point this governor minister should say, okay, I’ve had it, we’ve done our polls, we’ve got an election coming up in a few months, and we’re going to go this way. A lot of it could end up just being what the polls say. Talk about out of control of Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia, Novak; it’s in the hands of politics and like a cabinet member in their government and the prime minister.  

BRAD GILBERT: You know as well as I do and more because you were married to an Aussie, I’ve been going to Australia for 40 years, and let me tell you, from the first time that I went, they’ve had more forms and stuff that if you don’t cross your T’s and dot your I’s on a visa there, you could have problems. Once I was a player there, I forgot to get a visa for working visa. I showed up — the first time I showed up in Australia with no working visa, and it was like, you can’t play here without a working visa. I just didn’t know that you could come — I thought I could play the tournament on the tourist’s visa. So they’ve always been strict in Australia.  

Sometimes people fudge on forms, but like if you fudge on or give misinformation on a visa form, you can have problems, especially in Australia.  

PAM SHRIVER: If you forget you have a piece of fruit in your luggage and you walk through and the dogs sniff it out when you’re waiting for your baggage, you can be deported. They take it seriously.  

BRAD GILBERT: Remember when we’d get off —  

PAM SHRIVER: The fruit flies.  

BRAD GILBERT: They’d spray us down like we were mosquitoes. 

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Dave Nagle

As I write this on 11-11-21, it's now 35 years for me at ESPN, the only real job I’ve ever had. I joined merely to help with the America’s Cup for three months at all of $5.50 per hour. I like to say I simply kept showing up. I’ve worked on almost every sport, plus answered viewer calls and letters (people used to write!), given tours, written the company newsletter and once drove NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon to the local airport. My travels have been varied…I’ve been to Martinsville, Darlington, Indy and Super Bowls; the America’s Cup (all 3) in San Diego and College GameDay in the sport’s meccas such as Eugene, Auburn, Lubbock, Stillwater and more; the NBA Finals, Wimbledon (16 times and counting) and the “other Bristol,” the one with a race track in Tennessee. These days, my main areas are tennis, UFC, boxing, ratings, and corporate communications documents, including more than 30 of the Year in Review press releases.
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