Ivan Lendl still a physical specimen at 52

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -Pardon the interruption, Andy, but your strength and conditioning coach has some news about another member of your team, Ivan Lendl.

At the end of Andy Murray's news conference Saturday at the Australian Open, Jez Green interjected some news that won't surprise many in the tennis world - that eight-time Grand Slam champion Lendl, known as one of the fittest players on tour in the 1980s and early 90 - hasn't changed much as a 52-year-old.

Green said he made the mistake of telling Lendl, who has coached Murray since January last year, about his prowess on a stair-climber exercise device.

"That led to a challenge between Ivan and myself," Green said. "I stand before you today not just to inform you that I lost the challenge, but also to acknowledge Ivan is a far superior physical specimen than myself, all this despite a near 13-year age gap."

Green promised to train harder and said that he'll challenge Lendl, who is also an excellent golfer and once played off a scratch handicap, to a rematch.

Good luck with that. As Murray says, and countless Lendl contemporaries recall, the former No. 1 has always been very competitive.

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MYSTERY HANDLE: Coming soon to Twittersville: Maria Sharapova. With more than nine million "fans" on Facebook, Sharapova made it part of her New Year's resolutions to increase her social media duties, and that includes plans to open a Twitter account.

Asked at an Australian Open pre-tournament news conference exactly when that would be, or what Twitter handle she would use, she was coy: "It's a surprise."

"I was getting a little lazy in the last few years, certainly the last six months I wanted to step it up," Sharapova said. "I actually really enjoy doing it. I like to write. I'm actually thinking of taking pictures for my fans to be able to see what's going on in my life a little bit."

Promoting her new candy company, Sugarpova, is no doubt part of the expanded social media effort, but she says she mostly does it for her fans.

"I think I have over nine million - I don't quite really believe that - I think Max (Eisenbud, her agent) is probably just pressing the button all the time, all the different computers, all his different devices," she said, smiling.

"When people write me letters, they mention their only kind of connection that's more personal is through my social media. That's when I realized it's so important to me."

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OFFICIAL RACKET, STRING ETC.: The ATP Tour has announced a five-year deal with equipment manufacturer Tecnifibre that will involve the Paris-based company provide the official racket, string, bag and accessories for the tour, as well as become an official sponsor for the world tour finals. The partnership will also see the launch of a new "On the Road to the ATP World Tour" program, a promotional initiative targeting young players and fans.

Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia will become a program ambassador, serving as a mentor to four selected junior team players - Omar Jasika of Australia, Greg Barrere of France, American Devin Britton and Dino Marcan of Croatia.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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