One of the under-looked perks of tennis stardom is that you’re often being handed marsupials. Rafael Nadal got to hold this koala at the start of the Brisbane International. His grin and the bear’s claws appear to be saying very different things.
Even though Nadal admitted to feeling jet lagged, he went on to beat Alexander Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-3 for his first win of the new year. It’s been a decade since Nadal bothered to play a lead-up tournament before the Australian Open, but a lackluster 2016 saw him sink to No. 9 in the rankings, so he’s probably looking to hug an animal, rack up some ATP points and adjust to the time zone well before the main event starts in mid-January. So far he’s been moving and hitting well—this serve right into Dolgopolov’s body jammed him expertly and had him looking as uncomfortable as the koala above.
Still, of all the koalas held by tennis players, none have looked as morose as the husky fellow Andy Murray embraced a year ago in Perth at the Hopman Cup. Its name is Sunshine.