January 2009 - Posts
Roger Federer may have rebooted himself and his chances of Grand Slam No. 14 on the centrecourt at Melbourne on 27th January 2009. It seemed that he took less time to dispatch his opponent before once can say Juan Martin del Potro. The vanquished couldn't even win as many games as the words in his name. But one is not raving about Federer's domination in this match but figuring out what this kind of a performance can mean to Federer and his chances of equalling pistol Pete's record.
After the scare that Federer got in the round of 16 against Tomas Berdych, he needed some reassurance. Actually he needed lots of it. In that match Federer had looked tentative, full of self doubt and surprisingly conservative in his shot making. The service returns were floating back asking to be smashed, the ground stroked measured. Percentage tennis seemed to be the mantra for Federer in that match. All the bravado that he had been doling out looked to be wearing thin even to Federer himself. The cracks in the supreme self confidence finally seemed to be converting into a chasm. From Nadal, his weakness had added Murray, then a few others in top 10.. The fate of defeat that many of his opponents used to accept with a blank, tired shrug was becoming a thing of past. His vulnerability was like blood scented by many in the jungle.
Federer gave a virtuoso display of grace and power in the qf match. Dropping only 2 games in a match shows the extent of his dominance. Del Potro himself didn't have the best of starts and Federer never gave a chance or time to recover. But this performance maybe extrapolating a tad too much too early. Roddick played some very good tennis to dispose off Djokovic (the guy has retired as many times in a Grand Slam as Imran retired from cricket) in another Quarter Final and will meet Federer in the SF. Roddick actually beat Federer in their previous face-offat Miami after trying in vain some 11 times earlier. This would have given Roddick the confidence to face Federer this time around. Though one feels Federer himself may be happier facing Roddick than Djokovic. But the man to beat in this tournament has been Rafael Nadal. Nadal has been playing some outstanding Tennis and his last 2 matches against Haas and Gonzales would stand witness to his amazing physical fitness, his speed and his shot making ability. So many times did both Haas and Gonzales think that they had their man where they wanted him.. Nadal actually could play attacking shots with some impossible angles on the run.
Nadal still hasn't played his QF match as one writes this. And there's Tsonga facing him in the SF (if one goes on rankings and current form, which is always very dicey).
All in all Federer may have got back into some kind of form (as per his defintion) after today's demolition job. He is going to need it for sure if No 14 has to happen this Australian summer.
One was bound to see the meaning of the word 'upbringing' after reading/ listening to Andrew Symonds's following comments: http://media.dailytelegraph.com.au/multimedia/mediaplayer/index.html?id=1179
One dictionary defines it as "helping someone grow up to be an accepted member of the community". Thats what his parents tried in vain (or were they succesful to make him an accepted part of the Australian cricket community?). But as some Oz thinker(!!!) will correctly point out, the unconscionable IPL did it to him. How they hate the blasted Lalit Modi.
Men's Tennis which for the last few years has been an epitome of universal brotherhood and gentlemanly behaviour seems to be fraying at the edges. Some murmurs about 'its not tennis' replacing 'its not cricket' for ungentlemanly behaviour have been doing rounds for a while. With the Fed, Nadal and the Djokovics of the world being pretty nice to one another on court and more importantly off it, it was getting too sweet and as many of us know, diabetes is a killer.
One wonders whether the location has some thing to do with it. But it has all started at the Australian Open, where mental disintegration has been a part and parcel of modern sport. It all started with Andy Murray beating Fed in their last 3 meetings and the bookies actually naming him as a joint favorite with the Fed ahead of Nadal and Djokovic. Now Fed would have none of this and in a rare show of irritaion (can't find a subtler word), the Swiss Master said "
"He's playing well and finished strongly last year. But I'm surprised that the bookies say that. He's never won a slam ... it's surprising to hear."
"Andy's shown for a year that's he's knocking on the door. He's a good all-round player, has good tactics and he's full of confidence. But winning a slam is a different animal. Not many guys have been able to win them over the last few years. Rafa and I have taken a lot of them. It doesn't happen that easily but he has a chance like many other players."
Now Murray with his new found confidence has actually thrown the gauntlet by retorting that he is not afraid of Federer any more. "The more you play against him the less fearful you are, you're not scared to win the match. If you're young and you play against the top guys, once you get close to winning you get nervous. Now when I play him I don't get nervous and if I play my best tennis I can beat him,"
When was the last time some one said THAT about Federer? Global warming is indded happening.. Watch out for those temperatures rising at the Australian Open.
With tears in his eyes and a lump in his throat, Ricky Ponting declared :
"I don't think there's any doubt about that [he is Australia's greatest opener]. You can even look back through the history books of the game and try and see if there's ever been a better opening batsman in the game, let alone Australia."
Uncle JRod's blog has named three on the list for Australia's greatest ever opener - Trumper, Brown and Ponsford. Greenidge, Haynes, Gavaskar from the previous era jump to one's mind without even bothering to go in the eariler era.
Either Ricky is an angootha chaap as they call illiterates in India or else he has exclusively read cricket history books written Peter Lalor, Mike Coward ( http://dopaisekatamasha.blogspot.com/2009/01/write-on.html) and company.
It's said that silence speaks a thousand words. My silence on Matt Hayden is my ode to him :)
Good luck mate!!
so this is what Graham Ford did last year (actually it was 2007 but age does strange things to people :) )
and this is what he is saying now.. how much should one trust him?
It was a good day, it was a bad day. It was January 7, 2009. Though it had started off as an ordinary day with little to indicate the stunning events that were to follow. It was a day of mortals turning super men, it was a day of falling angels and all categories of men in between the two extremes. It was a day to remember, it was a day to forget. It was a day of some terrible decision making and some terrible decision makers. It was a day of painful truths; some physical; some ethical. It was a day for making statements. Some forceful, some forced.
The moment Dale Steyn was dismissed and the Australians began celebrating their victory, there emerged from the shadows of the SCG stands, a man with a mission. A man who refused to lose. Graeme Smith might have had a broken finger and a sore elbow but he also possessed a stout heart. He walked out in the middle to partner Ntini, who himself had shown admirable gumption in sticking around. Smith's heroic gesture was a captain's message to his team. The captain never abandoned his ship. He went down with it. It was a message to the opponents. South Africa was not willing to give an inch even in a dead rubber. They would scrap all the way down. They would use all their reserves and more.
In the same match, the opposite number had acted the dual role of the plaintiff and the judge, a throwback to the good old Sydney 2008 days. Some crucial decisions went against the South Africans and the final match result also was painfully similar to 2008. But in Sydney it was not surprisingly the opposition captains who walked away with all the glory. Kumble for his steely but calm reaction in 2008 and Smith for his show of defiance in 2009.
The same day Kevin Pietersen resigned from the England captaincy (or was he asked to go?) following his not so private tiff with Peter Moores. A man who had emerged as a statesman for his efforts to make his team tour India after the tragic events in Mumbai, was suddenly finding himself standing alone sans the team. What had happened in a month to alienate himself from the team members who were solidly behind his decision to tour India? One should know of the reasons in a few months in his next biography.
The shock though was reserved for another statement.
The leader of one of the largest software companies in the country, one which had received the Golden Peacock award (for excellence in corporate governance) a few months back, was admitting to commiting a massive fraud on an ongoing basis for many quarters. A company that was started, built and nurtured by him was being taken down by the same man. A company of 53,000+ employees was left rudderless.
On January7th 2009, a captain, in physical pain, in batting for his 10 team mates ended up making a nation proud. On January 7th 2009, a captain, a leader of 53,000 people, pulled down a proud nation by a couple of notches. It was a good day, it was a bad day.