Category Archives: nadal

Where did we lose our Sporting heroes?

I have always been a fan of sport. I don’t care about nationalities in general. So I would want Sampras to win over ┬áLeander Paes any day. I am not saying I don’t want India to win, just that I don’t mind it being beaten by a better team. After all,the very spirit of sports is just that, isn’t it? to celebrate the spirit of unity, of excellence, of passion and above all a toast to humanity? Sports like entertainment is an escape from reality. So when Sachin bats, a nation holds its breath. Just that we have held it too long, its time we left it all out in a gigantic fart!
Cricket is a game played by a handful of nations and indeed India’s insistence of celebrating it as its biggest offering to the world of sports would forever be an impediment in getting any kind of recognition in the international arena with regards to sports. We are good at it but its time we took a pause and looked around us. Sachin is a great player no doubt, but also take a bow- to Sania Mirza who broke into women’s tennis, to Saina Nehwal’s achievements,to Vishy Anand for inspiring a generation of youngsters after him, to Vijender ,to Mary Kom and to P.T Usha who undoubtedly lays claim to one of the most stupendous achievements by an Asian.Hell, even the Chineese and the Japaneese have not been able to penetrate the track and field glamour events at the Olympics!
The game of cricket is today a tamasha, what with the entire stink of IPL bogging it down. Its played through out the year only because people watch it with feeding on media generated frenzy.Even the most popular sport on this planet is not oversold like this game. That defies logic? only because cricket has not been sold but abused badly. Yet we wonder why India produces so few medals in the Olympics. Funny isn’t it?


There are sporting icons that transcend imagination, that plant the seeds of a rebellion and who rewrite history by their deeds rather than their records. Think Cassius Clay who embraced Islam, protested against discrimination and famously threw his medals into the gutter,think Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens defying Hitler,recall Bobby Fischer who broke the Soviet hegemony in the world of Chess,
take a bow to Serena and Venus ,to Seles and then you want to talk of pressure then think of Murray,the man who played on top of a 70-year-old pressure cooker, to Nadal who knew the clock was ticking even before he played his first Grand slam, to Kabaeva and Comaneci and to Messi who fought hormone indefeciency all his life and to Senna who died on the track fighting ironically for higher standards of safety. Know beauty when the Argentinian and Brazilians most out of the slums play their magic brand of football, remember Zidane before his headbutt and hell of Maradona and his struggle ,even Hansie Cronje who came out and said the truth.

Countless times we have debated on Sachin’s contribution to India’s successes and the fact that we are still debating is the answer to that question. Lara is not the greatest because he doesn’t have a 100 hundreds. Point taken.And then the issue of pressure. Who doesn’t face it? We then add to a good measure a billion people as if the athlete from Romania feels less pressurized because their population is lesser! Ask Phelps when he chased those records what pressure is (he didn’t take a year to do it, the poor bloke did it the first time) or ask the Chinese athletes who fear failing to win a gold at the Olympics.They all face it. Or ask Messi when he stands on the spot to take the kick and Casillas when he desperately wishes to save it(By sheer numbers there is more pressure here!).
Great men decide their own retirement I hear. They also come and go as they wish. It’s the freedom that comes with greatness,they can also be a member of parliament even while playing, its alright to forget discipline after all we take pride in spitting on the roads. Sab chalta hai Yahan! So ,its ok to not expect sporting discipline and professionalism. So, Zidane scored in his last match, Sampras lifted a grand slam in his last and every great athlete can still conjure the magic more often than their peers. The point is they leave when they cannot do it everyday at their will.
I am not saying cricket or Sachin is not great.Its not his fault that he has not suffered tribulations like others but only saying that take a look around.Give talent its due.Celebrate sport not biasness and prejudices.Dont aSK a person to shut and leave because they dare point a finger at Sachin, learn to be tolerant. Afterall we as nation are fast forgetting that a bit of common sense and lots of tolerance!Its time we celebrated our heroes.


Its Del Potro’s time to grab

The just concluded US Open is memorable in many ways. It had Kim Clistjers come back from a 2 year break to win the US Open,Melanie Oudin revived the Great American dream while the British saw theirs sink for yet another time,a host of top players including Serena,Fed and Rafa burst at the umpire with Serena making it the highlight of her this year’s campaign.The greatest and most visibly outrageous one is Del Potro’s win.

Federer was in such imperious form , it was a treat to watch him.Against Soderling he was shoddy but Djokovic’s match was brilliant.I did not think Del Potro could win him. But win he did with that big serve and stinging forehand. The way Del Potro treated Nadal was almost funny. Nadal was just out played and unless he finds a different technique Del Potro will be the same as he himself is to Federer.Ironically the topspin that troubles Fed so much is rendered ineffective against Del Potro’s height. I am not convinced by Fed’s greatness he just got lucky in the past two slams -no Nadal. Unless he wins Nadal and reverses their head to head record he cannot and should not be the all time greatest player.But undoubtedly he is the most consistent athlete ever in any modern competitive sporting era. And that is something that will never be replicated probably.

Kim won, good for her a tremendous achievement indeed.But really women’s tennis sucks these days. we have to wait for the crop of young players to grow up.there was a time some 8 years back when the Williamses entered when women’s tennis was exciting and highly competitive and they are the only ones who retain that spirit even now. And clearly the rankings are so much of a mockery now that no one takes it seriously except probably Safina.

Lastly, Del Potro is exciting but lets wait and watch lest he goes the Safin way. Really in all this Safin has been forgotten. He is an example of so much talent gone waste. This guy had the game to whip Sampras,Had it in him to beat Federer(he did that too mind you) but he was destiny’s prodigal son really.Such a regrettable act. Why? is the only thing I think when i see him play. If only he had lent some wee bit of that talent to his more balanced sister she could have managed to lay her hands on a grandslam trophy .

Serena’s little outburst is really passable.Come on cut the female some slack. she was losing a match and generally does not go about abusing umpires. I think past record(not in that day’s match alone) should be taken into consideration while handing out penalties in matches of importance like a grandslam semi final on a match point.

Melaine Oudin really is a talent. I like the way she plays and think she has the game to go great places.She requires consistency,self belief and some tweaking.

A memorable open of upsets, really.

A Touch of Nerve-Roger Federer

My last post on Federer and Nadal touched quite a few nerves.Some one accused me of being biased against Roger,another stated that Nadal plays like a cow and looks like one and a lot of others merely stated well, they dont want to comment.All these guys are Federer fans believing as so many millions across the globe that their idol is perhaps the greatest of all time.Replying to those comments, yes I am biased against Federer in a way and No..Nadal does not play nor look like a cow from any visible angle .His butt picking habit not withstanding he is one of the hottest tennis stars I know. Though now of course he may come third in that current list after Djokovic and Verdasco.
The reason why I write this post is because I realised that my blog stats soared with the last one but on a more serious tone its because I felt that the last post was incomplete. main1990
so why am I biased against Federer? I started as a federer fan when the Swiss began his career,it was fine until the moment people started hailing him as better than Sampras.That for me was sacrilege.When I heard that, I wondered if it was true and even spent anxious moments . After Sampras had retired I had not seen the sport for 2 years.

Federer was lucky in the sense that he had Agassi in his twilight,Safin all imploded,Roddick not so talented and Hewitt – I am yet to figure out what happened, as his prime opponents.For all their ability these guys do not hold a candle to the kind of opponents that Sampras faced,taking into account of course that Andre was past his best when Federer began to ascend .Sampras is the greatest because he dominated with such imperial authority the most competitive era in men’s tennis.
I still wonder why the media switches its claims so easily.Agassi had called Sampras the best when he lost to him, he later bestowed it on Federer when he lost to him,the same goes for Henman and a host of others who extolled Roger and are now questioning if he will ever win Nadal again.Even Sampras when asked to name his potential successor at the time of his retirement had said it would take the game of Safin and the mental strength of hewitt to dominate as he did.He did not name Roger Federer then.
I am not trying to belittle Federer, I am a fan of the sport and any fan worth his salt will know that Federer is gifted with the most talented all court game that ever was.Better than Nadal? Definitely yes.Better than Sampras? Also a yes.I am only suggesting that he is not the best player at the moment nor is he the best in history.By player here , I mean his ability to win.Talent need not translate into success always.Ask Uncle Toni.
Nothing is wrong with Federer’s game, its the same. There is no perceptible change to it before and after the arrival of a man called Nadal.If Federer could be called GOAT then he must be now too.His game is the same.The only hitch is that Federer is all elegant and grace when he is not challenged,when he is, it falls apart.He has made the same uncharacteristic errors against not only Nadal but also against Murray and Djokovic.
He reminds me of the other supremely talented Swiss ,Martina Hingis.It was painful seeing her come apart against the powerful ground strokes of the Williams,Capritati and Davenport.Her game was Swiss perfection too except her serve that is.But elegance and talent did not withstand the power and athleticism of the Williams.
If you are to go on and call Federer GOAT then it would put us in a quandary with Nadal .What would you call this guy who so thoroughly dominates Federer?
Federer lacks perhaps the one important weapon in his arsenal-the Champion’s Mind.Genius can be outdone by hardwork and dedication.For being focused single mindedly on a goal is genius in itself.Thats why the day Federer stops thinking of everything else apart from winning Nadal, he will do it not once but quite a few times.

Rafa Roars to subdue Federer

01aust3_spanSport seldom witnesses a telling moment as the one we saw today when Federer broke down.Those tears told in short the agonizing moments of frustration,despair and then a sense of loss that this rivalry has meant for federer. They also told what we knew and some feared all along that the story of their rivalry has evolved into one of not equal strengths but one of Federer chasing and Nadal denying every time.
What probably hurt Federer the most was the fact that he was thwarted by an opponent who has stood between him and history with such stubborness and in that greatness time and again that he has been rendered helpless.Nadal was not even hundred percent fit. The last of Federer’s bastion fell today to make it official that the Swiss is now second best to Nadal on every surface and in every aspect of their rivalry.Today when Federer broke down I thought that Roger may never win Nadal if the spaniard is hundred percent fit in a match of high stakes because Federer has lost the mental battle long ago.Its easy to see why.01aust2_1901
Nadal is the nightmarish colossus on Federer’s once upon a time sweet run.I have always insisted that Federer was lucky to win so many grand slams because he lacked intense rivalry.Sampras is the greatest not because he dominated its because the who’s who he dominated.Time and again people have seen Nadal as an obstacle on Federer’s path and have continued to write how Federer has to wait a bit more to fend off this challenge.The truth is far from that.Nadal has such a deadlock on Federer that their rivalry itself is to be questioned.They play great matches yes but Federer invariably ends up losing .You dont call that rivalry exactly do you? Its not Nadal who is the fly that Federer has to swat its exactly the other way round.
Today, Djokovic,Murray,Giles all believe they can beat Roger on a given day and not without reason. If Djokovic shows half the determination that Nadal has I dont see Federer winning him at this point either.It would not be right now of all times if Federer is called arguably the GOAT, for if Federer can be called that ,then what would you call Nadal?
We are always fascinated with fairy tales perhaps the reason why we rushed headlong to call Federer GOAT and perhaps the same reason why that people are wondering if its Nadal who will beat Sampras.But GOATs are not scattered across the field in every era.Nadal and Federer are indeed tennis greats and whether Nadal will break Pete’s record is only something that time will tell when the spaniard is past 25, exactly the point of time in Federer’s career when he began to unravel.Grandslams are not easier to win when you are hitting 26 and your opponent is just out of his teens, we saw that with Sampras and are now seeing it with Federer. So,lets wait and watch.

Its not that Federer cant beat Nadal,he very well can but it has to do with accepting the fact that Nadal is the better of the two currently.When he does that then he can chase to beat him with a thirst that sportsmen often display.With Nadal you can only win if you want the slam more than him and have the ability and belief to do so.
Federer has become increasingly bitter over the last year .He has mocked his fellow players,refused to give credit, time and again praised himself for winning over players like Roddick and called himself great.This paints a picture of where Roger is right now.I would rather have federer cry,shout and show a thirst openly than do it surreptiously.This man did not begin his career as Mr.Uber Cool, he was in his earlier days a vibrant personality charged with racquet abuse.Federer will perhaps beat Nadal when he removes these false layers off him and single mindedly pursues not records but Nadal.Its not past him.
6de85113-fcf6-431e-8455-f3d2bd80bbfcnewsaporg_t350For all the accusations of Nadal being defensive , sports is not about how beautifully you play and shake your locks ,its about how well you withstand the grind to win.Its something i have learnt the hard way everytime i saw argentina lose to say,germany or Barca lose over the years.Nadal has also tremendously improved with an ability to switch to an offensive play when required. This man from Mallorca has the heart of a lion, a child and that of gold all rolled into one.He has shown a sense of determination and persistence that will rewrite those very terms’ meanings. As long as his body holds he roars and stands the best. Its a passion unmatched and thats why its time to say Vamos Rafa!