Melbourne in January might not be quite as romantic as Paris in the spring, but Maria Sharapova is clearly enjoying the benefits of her new relationship with fellow professional Grigor Dimitrov.
Sharapova has been the most dominant player in either draw, continuing her romp to the quarter-finals yesterday (Sunday) with a 6-1, 6-0 demolition of Kirsten Flipkens. After four rounds, she has dropped the meagre total of five games, and four of those were against the estimable Venus Williams.
After each of her victories, the world No2 has gone through the ritual of signing the nearest TV camera - except that she has signed "Sugarpova", the name of her range of branded sweets, which come in 12 different varieties like "Sassy" or "Quirky".
When she came into the interview room yesterday, she was asked to come up with a new name that would sum up the experience of her first week in Melbourne. After rejecting a suggestion of "Happypova", she put her head in her hands, let out a saucy giggle and said: "I would call it 'Steamy', but for different reasons."
There was another giggle as she pointed to her agent, Max Eisenbud, who was sitting at the back of the room. "You know what I'm talking about, Max." Eisenbud did not deny that the steam in question relates to Dimitrov, a tall, dark and handsome Bulgarian who has long been seen as the next big thing in tennis. He is certainly the next big thing in Sharapova's life, though Dimitrov's own supporters might question whether he is saving enough of his energy for the tennis court.
He went out of the singles event on the first day of this tournament to Julien Benneteau of France, although he is still alive in the doubles with his playing partner, Marcos Baghdatis. There is extra intrigue involved here because Dimitrov was repeatedly pictured last year with Serena Williams, Sharapova's chief competition for the Australian Open title and a woman with whom she shares a frosty rivalry.
He is renowned enough as a Lothario for there to be an advert on YouTube for Wilson, his racket manufacturer, in which he delivers his best chat-up line to camera. It might be some corny old rubbish about God dropping one of his angels, but Dimitrov's sheer style makes up for any lack of content. Sharapova was probably expecting to face fifth seed Angelique Kerber in the next round but the German was knocked out yesterday in the nearest thing we have seen to a shock in the women's draw. Kerber went down to Ekaterina Makarova, a Russian left-hander who seems to peak early in the year. In 2012, Makarova sent Serena Williams home from Melbourne Park, then did comparatively little for the rest of the season.
Sharapova should not have too much trouble in that quarter-final, as long as she remains loved up and "steamy". In fact, the top four women look as if they might be starting to open a gap over the rest of the field, rather as the 'Big Four' men have in recent years.
Between them, Sharapova, Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska have yet to suffer a defeat in 2013, although Azarenka did pull out of a scheduled meeting with Williams in Brisbane on the somewhat suspect grounds of a bad pedicure, which she said had left her with an infected toe.
At the moment, it looks as if Sharapova will play Radwanska, who was deftness itself in disposing of a resurgent Ana Ivanovic by a 6-2, 6-4 scoreline, in one semi-final. As of last night, Williams was on course to meet defending champion and world No?1 Azarenka - the only one of the quartet to have dropped a set at this stage of the tournament - in the other.