MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Some players throw rackets or smash them. Others kick their chairs or scream obscenities when they get upset during a match.
Italian veteran Flavia Pennetta bites the net.
The 28th-seeded Pennetta had been beating her higher-ranked German opponent, Angelique Kerber, so convincingly in their fourth-round match at the Australian Open on Sunday that when she failed to break Kerber early in the second set, she took out her frustrations by leaning over the net and chomping on the tape.
Fortunately for Pennetta — or her dentist, perhaps — she didn't have the need to leave her teeth imprints on anything else. The Italian recovered after dropping the second set to defeat Kerber 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 and reach her first-ever quarterfinal at the Australian Open.
Pennetta, who turns 32 next month, is having the kind of late-career revival that reinforces the idea that 30 is the new 20 in women's tennis.
Since returning from a wrist injury last February that caused her ranking to drop as low as No. 166, the Italian has reached her first Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open and now her maiden quarterfinal at Melbourne Park.
"Well, I think when you're old, you're starting to have different goals and try to enjoy a little bit more the life, no?" she said.
Pennetta's opponent in the quarterfinals is another thirty-something: two-time finalist Li Na, who beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-0 in the fourth round on Sunday.
The Chinese star was quick to point out in her post-match interview, however, that she's actually younger than Pennetta. By a day.